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  • Country ranking ?

    575
  • Producer ranking ?

    33
  • Decanting time

    3h
  • When to drink

    now to 2040

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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The Story

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.

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Wine Information

A vintage that reflects a beautiful hot, dry summer that stopped short of anything excessive. Lasting from 17/9 to 10/10, the harvest was very intense – picking took place every day during that time, except on weekends. The weather was outstanding, the grapes were ideal, and this is an extraordinary, amazingly successful vintage – an archetypal great Yquem with tremendous balance, power, and finesse.

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Vintage 1990

An early, even flowering, a warm but unspectacular summer and an exceptionally hot period during the end of August and the first half of September. It was this heat that made it possible for the record harvest to not only to fully ripen, but also to concentrate the fruit.  The harvest started on September 14 and was finished before heavy rains commenced on October 2. Another reason for the success of the vintage was that most châteaux had invested in their cellars and were able to work such a large and hot harvest. It was now possible to control the fermentation temperatures better than in earlier hot vintages, such as 1947. The grapes produced wines with such high natural alcohol that chaptalization became unnecessary. They showed deep colour, high and unusually soft tannin levels and a better acidity than first thought, as well as great fruit concentration. The media hype was great, particularly thanks to the advent of new wine magazines - this was the vintage that cemented Robert Parker’s reputation. The prices rose rapidly and have not looked back since. I remember all Premier Crus (including Pétrus) being offered to end consumers for around 50 euros en-primeur in 1983.

The scene when the 1990 vintage came along was quite different. There was a surplus of very good to great wine on the market – for the first time there was talk of three great vintages following one another. This lead to most châteaux lowering their prices by about 20 per cent compared to their 1989 prices, even though the quality was outstanding. There had been a steady increase in prices during the 1980s, but they were now more or less back to the opening prices of the 1982s. It was again a record harvest, but because most châteaux had by now introduced a ‘second wine’ and due to the fact they were more selective with regards to quality, there was actually less wine being bottled as ‘Grand Vin’ than in 1982.

We have been following both these vintages from a comparatively early age, as they were both precocious and easy to drink from the start. The top wines from both vintages are spectacular, but the overall quality is much higher in 1990. Here the wines were equally successful on both sides of the river, and even minor châteaux produced something special. We have always found most 1982s from the right bank to be too alcoholic and lacking in structure; indeed many are now ageing rapidly.

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Average Bottle Price

2017 2015 2014 2012 2010 2005
302€ +1.0% 299€ -19.4% 371€ +1.4% 366€ -7.1% 394€ +41.7% 278€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Latest Pro-tasting notes

31 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Full, Amber and Bright

ending

Long, Lingering and Spicy

flavors

Apricot, Vanilla, Waxy, Toasty, Honey and Coffee

nose

Refined, Complex, Rich and Intense

recommend

Yes

taste

Average in Acidity, Concentrated, Well-structured, Perfectly balanced, Youthful, Medium-bodied, Firm, Round, Harmonious and Sweet

Verdict

Well-rounded and Sophisticated

Written Notes

We started with the classic quartet of 1990, 1989, 1988 and 1986. The 1990 Chateau d’Yquem had aromas of seawater, salt, honey, beeswax and candlewax in its nutty and creamy nose. It became more reticent with time in the glass, but its palate stayed honeyed, and it was ‘more textured’ than some of the others in the flight. Orange kisses blew gently over its finish. Interestingly enough, it seemed almost shut down after the 1989, but this was certainly a great Yquem with decades of potential (96).
  • 96p

Deep rich brass colour. Big, unctuous and mellow with a lovely greenish tang of refreshment. Wonderful freshness on the finish keeps this potential monster from being monstrous. This was a relatively short vintage, the last in a trio of great Sauternes vintages. RS 120g/l.

  • 95p

Golden. Apricots, rich, pineapples, vanilla, some caramel and burnt sugar. Fresh acidity, intense, layered, creamy, nuanced, detailed, rich, intense, spices, playful, superb balance, smoother and purer palate without the burnt caramel notes from the nose, superb. Drink over the next fifty years or so. My freshest bottle to date. 97

  • 97p

‘Particular as a sunny and warm vintage. Not so much botrytis. Half ripe half botrytis. An older style. Aged for 3 years in barrel’.
Golden yellow tending bright orange with biscuit and toast bottle age. Seems initially less sweet – indeed there’s much of the ’05 in character here, complete with a little aldehyde. Banana, mandarin, preserved lemon. Really concentrated, sweet fruit. Like treacle, but it’s not sweet – just powerful fruit. Another wine that is more table wine than dessert style. Big and powerful finish. High quality and ultra-powerful but I see this as less classic. 18.5/20. 94/100.

  • 94p
Tasted both from normal and magnum bottle. There was no significant difference between those two bottles regarding aroma, richness and taste. Light golden. Refined and deep in the nose with magnificently defined botrytis, sophisticated and refined on the palate with delicious sweetness, heather/rasp honey and lasting aftertaste. This wine is incredibly well put together and has incredibly promising future. Tasted again in September 2010 (normal bottle) with same impression.
  • 97p
A clear, deep yellow colour. The nose offers intensive honey notes with a reductive elegance. The apricot and marmalade fruitiness will open in time. Stylish and layered. A sweet, freshly acidic and concentrated palate. Just now entering its prime drinkability, and will withstand another 10-20 years of bottle maturation. Decanted immediately before serving. Lasts 30 minutes in the glass. Decanted 2.5 hours. Lasts for several hours in the glass.
  • 94p
Intense, golden yellow colour. Very concentrated nose is intense, honeyed, and complex. Sweet palate with vivid acidity, intense fruitiness – apricot and orange peel marmelade, vanilla, honey and lovely toastiness. Very intense and long lingering finish. Superb wine!
  • 94p
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Information

Origin

Sauternes, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Excellent

Value For Money

Good

Investment potential

Very Good

Fake factory

None

Glass time

2h

Highlights

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