Château d’Yquem explored
Château d’Yquem is considered the best and most well-known sweet wine in the world. It is located 15 miles to the south of the city of Bordeaux and the picturesque Château occupies the highest point in Sauternes. The vineyard is planted solely with Sémillon (80%) and Sauvignon Blanc (20%) grapes. Only fully botrytized grapes are used and it takes an entire vine to produce just one single glass of wine.
Château d’Yquem was purchased by one of the biggest luxury goods brands, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey (LVMH) in 1996. LVMH is one of the biggest recipients of the recent economic boom in China and their umbrella of companies include Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Krug Champagne. These are power brands in China and the combined marketing mite of LVMH and China’s growing appetite for sweet wines leads IGW to predict a boom that could rival the one of Lafite for Chateau d’Yquem in the coming years
In 2006, a single lot of Château d’Yquem containing every vintage produced from 1860 until 2003 was sold for US$1.5 million, one of the highest price wine lots ever purchased. In 2010 the ‘Liquid Gold Collection’ of 128 bottles and 40 magnums of Château d’Yquem sold at Christies, Hong Kong for US$ 1,032,336, a record for a single lot in Asia.
At the end of 2010 China lifted its import ban on sweet wines and Sauternes that contain over 250mg/l of sulphur. This ban was originally put in place to prevent substandard fruit juices from entering the Chinese market; however, it prevented d’Yquem, the top ranked wine of the 1855 classification, benefiting from the growing Chinese demand of its Bordeaux peers.
High scoring vintages such as 1990, 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2007 will probably see early growth, nevertheless, it is worth considering past trends. For example, it was the 1982 and 2000 vintages that led the early bull run for Lafite Rothschild both doubling in value quickly. However, with China more focused on brand than critics scores it was Lafite’s off-vintages such as 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2007 that saw the biggest returns. With many vintages of Yquem available at around £2,000 a case there are definitely bargains to be had. This iconic wine made to exacting standards will continue to increase in demand and is set to move from Europe’s favourite to the world’s favourite wine.