This morning we are delighted to release the newest vintage of the greatest sweet wine on the planet, Chateau d’Yquem 2016. The 2016 vintage in Bordeaux is a future legend among the reds. As one might expect, Sauternes experienced similar conditions, which aside from a deluge or two, saw extremely dry, hot conditions, which marked the leading Sauternes Estates with extremely low grey rot and of course botrytis. In a word, we found the 2016s decadent, with an opulence of fruit, ripe fruit flavours and enough freshness to provide ample backbone. In 2016, Chateau d’Yquem has been awarded 98-99 points from James Suckilng who says ‘What a sexy and moreish wine that makes you want to drink the whole bottle…Another great wine.’ Antonio Galloni awards it 94-97 points, saying ‘The 2016 d’Yquem is a magical wine’. Finally, Neal Martin awarded it 95-97 points at the Wine Advocate, who describes it as ‘[opening] gradually with light honeyed aromas, white flowers, apple blossom and just a touch of honeysuckle, although it does not possess the bravura personality of the astounding 2015′. In 2016, Chateau d’Yquem towers above the other Sauternes wines, its pedigree clear and bright as the wine. The release price today is £1,584 per case of six, with the price as expected moving in lock-step with the reds.
Chateau d’Yquem is considered the best and most well-known sweet wine in the world. It was the only wine classified as Premier Cru Superieur in the 1855 Classification and the only Grand Cru Sauternes, therefore, unlike the five First Growths it has no rival in its class. It is located 15 miles to the south of the city of Bordeaux and the picturesque Chateau occupies the highest point in Sauternes. The vineyard is planted solely with Semillon (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 acquired by Jacques de Sauvage in the late 16th century from the French monarchy and remained in the same family by marriage for nearly 200 years. In 1968 Comte Alexandre de Lur-Saluces took over the running of the Chateau and was responsible for a great deal of modernisation and rebuilding of the cellars. After a bitter family feud, Eugene de Lur-Saluces sold his 47% share of d’Yquem to the luxury goods company, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy. Chateau d’Yquem was Thomas Jefferson’s favourite French white wine; records show he ordered 250 bottles for himself and more for George Washington.
Often described as the supreme sweet wine, d’Yquem is unequalled by its fellow Sauternes and has a unique voluptuous and silky feel. The wine when young has a nose of apricots, mandarin and oak. With ageing, a variety of complex flavours are produced as soon as the bottle is opened with a sweetness that is perfectly balanced by its acidity.
In 2006, a single lot of Chateau d’Yquem containing every vintage produced from 1860 until 2003 was sold for US$1.5 million, one of the highest priced wine lots ever purchased. In late 2010, China lifted its importation ban on Sauternes and sweet wines (imposed due to sulphur levels being above 250mg/l) and since then its popularity has soared. In 2010, the ‘Liquid Gold Collection’ of 128 bottles and 40 magnums of Chateau d’Yquem sold at Christies, Hong Kong for US$1,032,336, a record for a single lot in Asia. 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 wines.
Buying on release also provides the opportunity to bottle the wine in different formats, from bottles (1x75cl or 3x75cl or 6x75cl) and half bottles (3×37.5cl or 6×37.5cl or 12×37.5cl), to magnums (1x150cl), double magnums (1x300cl) and imperials (1x600cl), a truly impressive ornament.
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