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.
For many the 1964 vintage conjures up images of a truly unique year. It was that in Burgundy, but not Bordeaux, even though the French minister of agriculture declared it to be the vintage of the century in Bordeaux. He made his declaration before the autumn rains began to fall. The vintage was, at any rate, a very good one, quite reminiscent of the 1962, whose large crops produced excellent wines.
The mild, wet winter was followed by a warm spring. The ideal conditions enjoyed during the germination period stayed dry and hot throughout the summer. The grapes ripened beautifully all the way until 8 October, when three weeks of extremely heavy rains pushed into Bordeaux, causing the greatest damage in Médoc, primarily at Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. Some of the region’s producers had managed to bring their entire harvests in before the rains. One of these fortunate ones was Château Latour. One of the less fortunate was Château Lynch-Bages, which finally brought its harvest in on 24 October. This vintage, however, favoured the right bank’s Merlot-driven wines, which ripened well before the rains. There are very few drinkable wines at this time. Once again, the Cheval Blanc and Pétrus rise above the other, also in price. An interesting development in 1964 was Mouiex’s acquisition of shares in Pétrus.