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Tasted at the château, the 2005 Château d’Yquem delivers a similar performance as last year. Lucid in colour, the bouquet is detailed with very pure honey, vanilla and almond scents, still a little new oak to be fully assimilated but demonstrating superb focus. The palate is virtually identical to last year’s bottle : exquisite balance and perfectly judged acidity, but perhaps just gaining a little richness and viscosity over the last 12 months. There is an appealing completeness to this Yquem and whilst would not place it amongst the likes of 2001 or 2009, it comfortably sits just behind.
97/100 – Neal Martin
Utterly great Yquem ! My wine of the vintage – and the Decanter team’s top-scoring wine of 2014. A laser beam of acidity (3,6 pH) and lemony botrytis lifts ans extends very pure aromas and sweet flavours (134g/l residual sugar) of tangerine, vanilla, pineapple and minerals. Less rich than the 2001 and ’09, but purer and fresher. I wonder if 25% Sauvignon Blanc isn’t just 5% too much ?
97/100 - Decanter, Ian d’Agata
A crazy combination of botrytis, dried fruits and freshness. It’s not the sweetness Yquem bit it has an extraordinary depth of fruit and freshness. It goes on for minutes. Spicy and intense. A stunning young wine. A brightness and fabulous depth of fruit.
97-98/100 - James Suckling
The 2014 Château d'Yquem Sauternes is utterly beguiling, with acacia, jasmine and honeysuckle notes leading the way, followed by refined peach, tangerine and yellow apple fruit flavors. The racy finish is long, long, long with a lemon chiffon note lingering delicately. With its racy profile, it's in the mold of the '01 and '11, but perhaps just a hair shy of concentration when compared to those two spectacular Yquem vintages. Thirty percent of the blend was made from earlier-picked fruit that was very, very fresh, picked at the end of the first week of September," said Lurton. "Then the later pickings we selected the different generations of botrytis fruit, as we got a little rain and a little sun alternating during that perfect Indian summer. We could combine the two sides—fresh and rich—but the hallmark of the
vintage is its freshness.
96-99/100 - Wine Spectator
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.
In 2014, the three weather sequences during the harvest were ideal for noble rot: light rain to induce Botrytis growth, followed by two or three weeks of stable, hot, dry weather, promoting rapid concentration of the sugars by evaporation. The picking waves simply followed these three periods of Botrytis development. In this way, the 22 mm rainfall of 25-28 August was followed by 19 dry days, leading to a very early first wave of picking, from 5 to 17 September, bringing in ¼ of the harvest with unusually high acidity. Another rainfall episode triggered further Botrytis development, followed by three hot, dry weeks before a second wave of picking from 25 September to 8 October, once again representing ¼ of the harvest, with superb concentration and lively acidity. The 3rd period of rain was a little longer, from 8 to 16 October, but was once again followed by 16 days of hot, dry weather. The 3rd and 4th waves of picking, between 20 and 30 October, rounded out the aromatic palette and texture of the vintage, with the full-bodied richness of the late-ripening terroirs.
The long harvest, over a nine week period, captured all the diversity of a growing season where flowering and veraison were also spread out. This year, the early start specific to Yquem, with 25 % of the grapes harvested before 15 September, provided unusually fine acidity. This gives an attractive edge to a blend which reflects the full complexity of this vintage, combining a modern approach with freshness and concentration, in the same vein as 2011.
The palate is very poised with the acidity nigh on perfect. Occasionally an Yquem only reveals its components parts at this early juncture, necessitates conjecture. However the 2014 has a sense of harmony and completeness already, as if the élevage is merely there to usher it on to its finished state. There is undeniably great depth here, perhaps less conspicuous than other vintages because of that silver thread of acidity: notes of lemon sherbet, orange zest, shaved ginger and again, a few "flakes' of white chocolate. It is extremely long with tenderness rather than power on the finish. It's not quite up there in the rarefied heights of say, the 2001 or 2009, but it is what we call in the trade, "the business."
Bordeaux Vintage 2014 - is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
Timed usually ath the end of March and beginning of April the Primeur Week in Bordeaux is always an exciting moment as it allows a first view on the latest vintage. The huge number of wines available for tasting is impressing and one week seems almost to short. Therefore the Union de Grand Crus offers a well organised blind tasting for the press on every morning during the week. On the precendt weekend the Grand Cercle des vins de Bordeaux holds blind tastings of over 200 samples. These impressions are complemented by tastings at various Châteaux and tastings organized by the Bordeaux trade. Therefore some oft he wines can be tasted twice or even more often during this week to doublecheck on quality and style.
An interesting fact is the weather situation. Meterologic low pressure means that wines may close down, meanwhile meterologic high pressure presents the wines in a more open and flavourful style. This year the wheather was quite bad during the first days of the tasting week but ameliorated a lot in the second half of the week. This had an influence on the tasting notes in general which has to be considered. Another effect has been the late harvest in 2014, which shortened the time period between harvest and Primeur tastings for up to a month. A month less time for maturation has effects on the tasting results which is another aspect to consider, always keeping in mind that each tasting result remains a snap-shot and is not an absolute and final judgement.
2014 had an early start with budbreak around 10 days ahead of the 10 years average. End of May flowering started on the early terroirs in heterogeneous conditions, whereas the later varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon and Franc as well as later terroirs took advantage of a warm and sunny period beginning of June. July and August where quite cool and humid and in the second half of August the vintners prepared themselves for a vintage even worse than 2013 but at the end of August everything changed. A spledid indian summer througout September and October saved the quality. Harvest started for the white grapes started three days later than in 2012 but two weeks later than 2011. For the red grapes the harvest startet with Merlot at the end of September and ended with the Cabernets in the second half of October. The cool climate during summer provides a higher acidity, the indian summer is responsible for the right ripening.
The dry white wines are on a very good quality level showing crisp acidity and ripe flavours. The noble sweet white wines also take advantage of the higher acidity balancing the opulent sweetness. Therefore this vintage seems more on the elegant side. The presentation of red wines depends very much on the grape varietes and terroirs. Overall the red wines are on a higher quality level than the three previous vintages. Saint-Emilion is excellent on the plateau calcaire and shows in general very good wines.
In Pomerol the centre of the plateau was in advantage over the surrounding areas. Fronsac was a very positive surprise for 2014. In the Médoc the southern part proved to be more heterogenous than the northern part, where especially Saint-Estèphe was homogenous and excellent. South of Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan presented a very homogenous picture of a very good quality level with outstanding wines from Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.
One last observation: This vintage digests oak in a great way. The oak is even not obvious in wines with a 100% new oak barrels for maturation. Now there are roughtly twelve month to follow for the maturation of the 2014s untill the bottling in 2016. A lot can happen in this period. Let us see how the wines will present themselves after bottling, it will be a very interesting tasting again. 2014 is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
by Markus del Monego MW
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