Chateau d'Yquem 'Y' Ygrec 2014

WA93, WS93
Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon

The 2014 Ygrec is a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon with seven grams per liter of residual sugar. It has an attractive nose with scents of nettle, dandelion, gooseberry and grass clippings, the Semillon taking a back seat to the Sauvignon Blanc at the moment. The palate is very well balanced with the 20% new oak nicely integrated (the remainder is matured in two-year-old Yquem barrels). It is very refined with lovely passion fruit and kumquat notes towards the second half where finally the Semillon makes its presence felt, with touches of brioche and lemongrass developing in the glass. What a gorgeous Ygrec. - WA93

This has a gorgeous whiff of toast, with alluring shortbread, lemon curd and white peach flavors. The long, creamy finish lets echoes of clementine and honeysuckle drift through. Rounded and creamy overall, but plenty long. A beauty. Drink now through 2020. - WS93

The Winery

Château d'Yquem is a property in the Sauternes district of Bordeaux, making what is arguably the world's most famous dessert wine. It was the only Sauternes château rated as Premier Cru Supérieur in the official Classification of 1855, and is priced accordingly. Yquem can show stonefruit, mandarin, toast and vanilla when young and develops rich complexity with age. In top vintages it can be cellared for 50 years or more.

The Yquem estate, owned by the King of England in the Middle Ages, has produced late-harvest wine since at least the late 1500s. The 113-hectare (290-acre) vineyard is situated on the highest hill in Sauternes. The soils here are perfect for the production of sweet wine – a warm, dry topsoil of pebbles and course gravel lies over a clay subsoil that retains generous water reserves, aiding with the development of noble rot, and there are around 60 miles (100km) of drains to prevent waterlogging. At any one time around 12ha (30 acres) of vineyard are either fallow or have young vines not suitable for production.

The Yquem vineyard is planted to around 75 percent Semillon and 25 percent Sauvignon Blanc. A team of around 150 expert pickers are used each vintage and make multiple passes through the vineyard to ensure that only fully botrytized fruit is harvested. Yields are very low – about 900 liters per hectare, or around one glass per vine.

In the winery, the grapes are pressed three or four times, with increasing pressures yielding lower volumes but higher sugar levels. Yquem is fermented in new oak barrels for maximum control over small lots. The cellar team have an ideal target of 13.5 percent abv for a wine with 120 to 150 grams per liter of residual sugar, though the alcohol content can vary either way by about 1 percent depending on sugar levels.

Individual batches organized by day of picking are aged separately for six to eight months, after which the first selection and a preliminary blend is made. Following around 20 further months of aging the barrels are then re-tasted and the best lots make the final wine. On average around 65,000 bottles are produced each year, though in poor vintages the entire crop is sold off anonymously in bulk (this happened nine times in the 20th Century).

Yquem also makes a dry Bordeaux Blanc called Y (pronounced "ee-grek" in French). This is made primarily from Sauvignon Blanc picked at the start of the harvest, with smaller amounts of Semillon with a little bit of botrytis.

The estate was under the ownership or the Lur-Saluces family from 1785 until 1999, when it was sold to LVMH. - Information from Wine Searcher

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