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With an annual production of 10,000 bottles a year, Y (pronounced "ee-grek" in French) is a rare wine. It is made from the same outstanding terroir and the same vines as Château d'Yquem. Although work in the vineyard is every bit as meticulous, the grapes are picked and the wine made in a different way.
Y was formerly made at the end of the harvest, with the last bunches left on the vines. These grapes, affected to varying degrees by Botrytis cinerea, but never with more than 15% potential alcohol, resulted in a very unusual wine. This explains why it has always been produced in small quantities and on an irregular basis since 1959. Y changed starting in 1996, but without compromising its unique character, to be more in tune with the times by displaying the qualities of freshness and crispness – essential for a modern great white wine. It was decided in 2004 to make Y every year. It is thus by deliberate choice that we now harvest certain plots of Sauvignon Blanc at the beginning of the vintage, making sure to pick perfectly ripe bunches. These are completed by Sémillon grapes picked just at that fleeting stage when the grapes have reached maximum ripeness, botrytis has just appeared, and the skins have turned a pinkish colour. This is the precise moment when this grape variety's tannins are soft enough for the aromatic potential of the best plots of clay soil to come through.
The wine receives close attention all during fermentation: light, precise pressing as well as temperature-controlled must racking and alcoholic fermentation in a new aesthetically pleasing, state-of-the-art vat room set aside just for this wine. The end of fermentation and ageing on the lees take place in barrels. Only one third of these are new, and the lees are regularly stirred (bâtonnage) for ten months.
The harvest lasted from September to November, enabling us to pick grapes resulting in a Y that is one of the finest "old generation" wines. It reflects the superb quality of grapes in this vintage famous for red wines. 1966 Y is marvellously elegant, balanced, and round. A pure delight!
1966 is an outstanding year in Bordeaux for very classic and delicate wines. However, the year started out as anything but promising. The major rainfall that started at the end of June continued into July, but the hot start to August dried the soil and the weather gradually improved toward autumn, until it was nearly perfect for the harvest.
These wines share a truly classic, graceful and high-quality character so typical of Bordeaux wines, thus making them elegant and well balanced. Today many of these are still good. If carefully stored, many of the best wines may still mature, but the following rule of thumb should be observed: drink or sell them off immediately. In our opinion, this is one of the finest vintages that can be purchased today. Nearly all the AOC wines are still in excellent condition, and the top examples, such as the Palmer, Latour, Haut-Brion, Lafleur and Pétrus, are excellent. There is a wide selection of nicely priced First, Second and Third growth wines on the market. For example, the Cos d’Estournel, Calon-Ségur and Lynch-Bages offer an exceptional price-quality ratio. As a rule, a one hour decanting is sufficient.
Price trends for this vintage no longer show any significant upward movement – the increase in price over the past ten years has been around 55%. The rise in price will continue alongside the maturation of top wines perhaps until 2010, when any wines still surviving should be removed from the cellar and sold or drunk immediately.