On the Trail

A Visit from Yquem

Alex Schroeder

Last week Jean-Phillipe le Moine, the marketing director for Château d'Yquem, stopped by our Northern California locations to pour a surreal six-vintage tasting of the chateau’s incredible dessert wine from Sauternes, as well as their dry 2015 Y (pronounced ee-greck in French).  The Y is impressive in its own right, a blend of sauvignon blanc and late-picked partially-botrytized semillon. The grapefruit and orange flavors are vibrant and intense with a velvety phenolic texture from the ripe semillon. The wine has expertly-balanced acidity without any bitterness. It was perfectly crafted and has great ageablity.  

However, the dessert wines promptly stole the show. We tasted the 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006 and 2005, in that order.  Because they are made from individually picked berries that are dried out and concentrated by the botrytis fungus, the wines are intensely aromatic and complex. The 2011 had fresher flavors of orange peel, honeycomb, orange blossom and pineapple, with a viscous texture and great acidity to hone it in. The 2009 was very powerful!  Notes of baked pastry, honeycomb, white cherry and cream melded perfectly with the higher sugar content and acidity for a very complex and cerebral experience. The 2006 was the opposite, with higher acidity and slightly lower sugar levels. The fruit was fresher and more vegetal with tropical notes like mango and pineapple with just a hint of spice. Finally, the 2005 was starting to show what a beautifully-made aged Sauternes is capable of: dried apricots, preserved peaches and bold tropical notes were intense with a thick, round texture and notes of saffron spice and coriander starting to develop. It had incredible complexity and intensity, and a finish that wouldn’t stop. 

They say that after-dinner wines are falling out of fashion, which is a shame.  From the first whiff of that intensely aromatic, deep gold elixir to the last drop, Yquem is providing wine-lovers everywhere with surreal, other-worldly drinking experiences. It's a luxury that's well worth the price of admission.

-Alex Schroeder