Another tasting thanks to Sommeliers, Negociants, Stokehouse and D’yquem’s Sandrine Garbay (oenologist) and Jean-Phillipe Lemoine (Marketing).
D’yquem is its own legend, and not a wine I can readily afford, and seldom try. I have vivid memories of the 1989 tasted in May 2013, and the 1975 tasted in June 2014. This hints at their longevity. The property in Sauternes is large, planted with Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Its elevation means it is prone to morning fogs, and then botrytis. Yields are very, very low. There is a mix of soli types and typically there are 4-5 different picks over a 4-7 week time-frame. This means there are often 25 batches to base blending decisions on. Fermentation is with indigenous yeasts, and in 100% new, fine-grained, medium-toast barrel- Seguin Moreau and Taransaud are mainstays .No malo. Lots of declassification of batches (and some years no d’yquem is released – such as 2012). Light racking. Light fining, light filtering.
The sweet wines below had an “airiness” in common, a texture that was subtle, and extreme persistence. Enormous concentration and the oak contributes to complexity without being obvious. And with enough acidity to avoid any semblance of flabbiness. Richness without fatness. Thematically, consider Chateau d’yquem to be a first growth, and its pricing doesn’t seem so extravagant. But money is still a factor for most people. Easy to like, hard to describe, as their class is thoroughly embedded.
The “dry” wine “Y” (formerly Y’grec) is now made from early picked Sauvignon Blanc, with some just-botrytised Semillon added. These are also very age-worthy, but can go into a dull phase after 3-4 years and remain there for a few years, before re-emerging. (this pattern is similar to Mosel wines)
(only 1 pick, 75% Sauvignon blanc, 25% Semillon, 7 g/l rs). Very pale, pungent notes of pear, apple, botrytis spices and some attractive bubble-gum. Stone, grass, nettles also on the palate, finished with crisp acidity. Angular and attractive, but will be better with time
Drink 2020- 2030, score 92+
(2 picks, 9 g/l rs) Some more colour, with a less voluminous bouquet, in the apple and honey style, It has a round, soft palate with more grip and warmth than the 2013. Would be very comfortable with many different foods
Drink now-2025, score 94
(70% Semillon, 30% sauvignon blanc, 13.2%, 150 g/l rs). Very pale, baked apple, peach-skin, and all comes together on the sweeter-than expected palate, Airy, and just at the start of its life.
Drink 2020-2040, score 96+
(13.9%, 140 g/l rs) Described by Sandrine as a “classical year, easy”. 5 picks. Quinces, almost some mint and exotics. Feathered, fine texture, chewy and elegant, ultra-refined. Fresh, concentrated and relaxed. At a lovely stage already, but absolutely plenty of time and improvement ahead
Drink now-2035, score 97+
(125 g/l rs). Described as a textbook year. 5 picks. Some VA showing om top of,tangerines and scorched barley sugar but there is faint bitterness and some warmth too. But density makes this still pretty, and still fresh.
Drink now – 2025, score 94