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Coming in with 139 degrees residual sugar and a pH of 4.75, this is an Yquem that is unequivocally top of the pile in 2008. A light straw color with green tints in the glass. The bouquet is just wonderful, very perfumed with aromas of apricot, acacia honey and white flowers. A degree less clarity than the 2007, but perhaps more nuanced, more honeyed. The palate is a little more viscous than the 2007, lacquers the mouth with honey, apricot and orange zest. Very harmonious, the finish vibrant and edgy, real tension and energy in this Yquem. Very focused on the finish - not the "peacocks" tail of flavors that one finds on truly great vintages. But there is a surreal level of elegance and poise - an understated Yquem that should age effortlessly and returning to the glass it graces you with hints of almond and a dash of spice. In 2008, the king is king. P.S. RMP rated this blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon (94-96)
Score: 95/97Neal Martin, RobertParker.com (182), April 2009
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.
A year of capricious weather, with alternating hot and cold, including frost in April that did no great harm, but reduced the potential crop. A cold, dry period arrived in September, causing slow ripening in Sémillon conducive to great aromatic purity. The end result is a subtle combination of richness and a rare vivaciousness.
Château d’Yquem’s first harvest took place three hundred years earlier, in 1593, when Jacques de Sauvage purchased the estate from the crown. When Francoise de Sauvage and Louis Amade Lur-Saluces, king Louis XV’s godson, married in 1785, Yquem became part of the property of the historic and traditional Lur-Saluces family. At the same time, the vineyard received approval and protection from the French royalty. Today, the vineyard comprises 457 acres, which is approximately the same as two hundred years ago. The man who ran the winery for thirty years, Alexandre de Lur-Saluces, now retired, says that his winemaking philosophy goes back centuries:
The most important thing is to respect nature, just the way my grandfather and his predecessors did hundreds of years ago. We cannot produce great wines without the help of Mother Nature. Every harvest is, in a way, an individual adventure with its individual surprises. We wish to extend this thinking to respecting the people who love the wine that comes from our vineyards, and the people who work on the fields. Our wines will stay the same in the future as they were a century ago. The tools have changed, but not our way of making wine.”