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The pleasure derived from tasting Yquem is difficult to describe.
It offers a myriad of well-balanced, complex flavours that generate even more harmonies over time. The impression that remains is reminiscent of a quote from Frédéric Dard "the silence that follows a piece by Mozart, in which the listener remains suffused with the music". This reflects the fact that Château d'Yquem stays on the palate for a remarkable long time, providing a unique, prolonged pleasure. There is a lovely expression in French to describe Yquem's tremendously long aftertaste: il fait la queue du paon, which means that it spreads out like a peacock's tail.
It is always difficult to describe wine-tasting experiences with any precision. The senses of sight, smell, taste and touch are all stimulated virtually at the same time. While gifted tasters can identify some of the aromas and flavours in a glass of Yquem in an effort to define its complexity, they never really succeed in communicating its essence or explaining its mystery. Mere analysis, whether chemical or organoleptic, is not sufficient to account for Yquem's greatness. Yquem tells a unique story... It starts with the bouquet. Although not always very outgoing in young vintages, it is marked by fruit (apricot, mandarin, and occasionally tropical fruit) and oak (vanilla and toasty aromas). Older vintages, on the other hand, have an extraordinarily complex fragrance as soon as the bottle is opened, with hints of dried fruit (dried apricot, prune, stewed fruit, and marmalade), spice (cinnamon, saffron, and liquorice), and even flowers (lime blossom, etc.). The first impression of Château d'Yquem on the palate is always very silky, and often sumptuous. It then fills out, "coating the palate". This fine wine has a strong, but never overbearing character, with great elegance and poise. It always maintains a balance between sugar and acidity (sweetness and freshness). A touch of bitterness can also contribute to the overall harmony. Château d'Yquem's aftertaste is legendary, and it tells another story, which lasts and lasts…
Certain connoisseurs consider it outrageous to drink a young Yquem and believe that opening such a monumental wine before its thirtieth birthday is tantamount to a sacrilege. Others, on the contrary, think that Yquem can be enjoyed at all stages in its life.
Chateau d`Yquem is often described as the greatest sweet wine in the world. After centuries of family ownership, Yquem was was bought by Louis Vuitton-Moët-Hennessy in 1999. Its former owner and director Alexandre de Lur-Saluce remains in charge. Yquem is located on the highest hill in Sauternes and enjoys the best growing conditions in the whole appellation. The 110-hectare vineyard is planted with 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Only fully botrytized fruit is picked by the 150 highly skilled pickers and yields are so low that each vine produces only one glass of wine. Yquem is fermented in oak barrels (100% new) and is left in barriques to mature for up to 36 months. Intensely opulent when young, Yquem develops an extraordinary complexity and exotic richness when fully mature, with the best vintages lasting for over 50 years. Château d'Yquem is classified as a 1er Cru Classé supérieur.
1955 Château d'Yquem (Sauternes)
For me the Château d´Yquem is the most consistent wine producer of the world. The combination of the continuity provided by the Lur-Saluces family, who have owned the Château since 1785 and the geographical position, which gives it a unique micro-climate, are key factors to the continuing standard for quality winemaking that many would like to duplicate, but few can afford.
Another key factor is the uncompromisingly low yields produced- only 9 hectolitres per hectare – the equivalent of one glass of wine per vine. It hardly ever makes a faint wine and this glorious 1955 gives us a great reason to belive that.
Good-looking château bottling. Fully mature, but still very youthful and fresh. It has a deep golden, slightly brownish colour. Lovely honeyed nose. This is a well-designed, rich and very ripe Yquem, and not too sweet. Very good acidity and balance. This wine should be drunk alone as a desert, or with fresh foie gras. Not the most concentrated and richest Yquem, but a profound drink now and in the near future.
In Bordeaux the 1955 began with unstable weather conditions just before summer, but turned into an extremely favourable season by the end of the year. A beautiful, sunny and warm—if not hot—period prevailed throughout August and September, until the just the right amount of much-needed rain came along. The crop turned out to be of the highest quality. However, because the vintage was overshadowed by the 1953, it offering wines with a good price-quality ratio that can still be enjoyed today. Ripe grapes and autumn rain guaranteed an excellent year for Sauternes wines. The wines of this vintage vary widely in quality, and many are dominated by tannins. Only the finest wines, such as the Lafleur, Cheval Blanc and Mouton-Rothschild, offer balance and richness.