Text: Ivy Tsany
Talking about sweet wine, one of the most famous regions is Sauternes. Chateau d’Yquem is, then, no doubt the king of Sauternes as it is the only one winery classified as Premier Cru Supérieur back in 1855 classification of Sauternes and Barsac.
Made with Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Semillon offers body, honey characters while Sauvignon Blanc offers elegant acidity and fruitiness. Since only botrytis affected grapes can be used for making this sacred nectar, the berries must be handpicked. Don’t doubt the harsh selection of grapes at d’Yquem! The annual production limit is 2500L/hectare at Sauternes while d’Yquem has an average production of 1000L/hectare only. It is said that 8 bunches of grapes make up only one glass of d’Yquem and 7 vines make up only one bottle. If the weather of the vintage is not ideal for the grapes and botrytis, no d’Yquem shall be made for that vintage, e.g. 1992 & 2012. Except the strict vineyard management, vinification process is also very controlled. The sticky is fermented in 100% new French oak, then age for an average of 30 years.
I was lucky enough to try some of the recent and back vintages of d’Yquem. When young, it is vibrant and fresh, with aromas and flavours of apricot, citrus, white flowers and hint of mineral. When aged, more honey and matured characters like dried fruits, toast and ginger can be found.
Though 2010 was not an excellent vintage of Sauternes, it is still quite a nice and long-live one, just like other vintages of d’Yquem. It is just started to get ready. With the sugar level of around 140g/L, I am sure the ageing will go awesome in the new future! (provided that it is stored properly!)