Château d’Yquem is a Premier Cru Supérieur (Fr: “Superior First Growth”) wine from the Sauternes, Gironde region in the southern part of the Bordeaux vineyards known as Graves. In the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, Château d’Yquem was the only Sauternes given this rating, indicating its perceived superiority and higher prices over all other wines of its type. Yquem’s success stems largely from the site’s susceptibility to attack by “noble rot” (Botrytis cinerea).
Wines from Château d’Yquem are characterised by their complexity, concentration and sweetness. A relatively high acidity helps to balance the wine’s sweetness. Another characteristic for which Château d’Yquem wines are known is their longevity. With proper care, a bottle will keep for a century or more. During this time, the fruity overtones will gradually fade and integrate with more complex secondary and tertiary flavours.
Since 1959 (though not every year), Château d’Yquem has also produced a dry white wine called Ygrec (Fr: the letter “Y”), made from an equal blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon blanc.
Ramon Felipe Eyquem had made a fortune as a herring and wine merchant and had bought the estate in 1477 from Guilhem Duboys, seigneur de Juillac. Pierre Eyquem, Seigneur of Montaigne, had been the mayor of Bordeaux. His son Michel Eyquem de Montaigne died in 1592. Château d’Yquem was acquired by Jacques de Sauvage in December 1593. De Sauvage acquired the property from the French monarchy by exchanging other lands that he owned for what was then referred to as the ‘House of Yquem’. The site has been home to a vineyard since at least 1711 when the estate became fully owned by Léon de Sauvage d’Yquem. In 1785 it passed to the Lur-Saluces family when Françoise-Joséphine de Sauvage d’Yquem married Count Louis-Amédée de Lur-Saluces, a godson of Louis XV and Lady Victoire de France. Monsieur Lur-Saluces died three years later, and his wife subsequently focused her energy on sustaining and improving the estate.
While Minister Plenipotentiary to France, Thomas Jefferson visited the château and later wrote, “Sauterne. This is the best white wine of France and the best of it is made by Monsieur de Lur-Saluces.” Jefferson ordered 250 bottles of the 1784 vintage for himself, and additional bottles for George Washington. However, at that time the technique of allowing noble rot to infect grapes had not yet been discovered, so the wine Jefferson was drinking was a different sweet wine.
The 1811 Château d’Yquem, a comet vintage, has exhibited what wine experts like Robert Parker have described as exceptional longevity with Parker scoring the wine a perfect 100 points when tasted in 1996.
Antique Wine – Chateau Yquem 1811 – SIP WIne Bar Bali Restaurant World’s most expensive wine sold July 27 – A 200 year old white wine, which is still drinkable, is sold in London for 75,000 pounds (123,000 U.S. dollars) – a world record for a bottle of wine sold commercially. French private collector Christian Vanneque holds the bottle of 1811 Chateau D’Yquem he bought for $123,000.
This is certainly a bottle of wine to save for a very special occasion. The precious bottle of 1811 Château d’Yquem today became the world’s most valuable bottle of white wine, after it was sold for £75,000. The rare vintage set a new Guinness World Record, after The Antique Wine Company sold the bottle to the wine connoisseur and private collector Christian Vanneque.
Christian Vannequé (20 August 1949 – 9 January 2015) was a sommelier and restaurateur.
In 1967 he began at the three star Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris as an assistant cellar man. He rose to become the restaurant’s head sommelier, at 20 years old the youngest head sommelier in France. He served as an expert wine taster at the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. He also participated in The Judgment of Paris 30th Anniversary on the 30th anniversary of the Paris event.
In later years, Vannequé opened restaurants of his own in France, the United States, and Bali.
On July 26, 2011, Vannequé set a record for the highest price paid for a bottle of white wine. He purchased a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem, vintage 1811, for £75,000 (US$123,000.00) from The Antique Wine Company. He stated he purchased it for his own pleasure, and intended to open it at a dinner party in August 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his career.
CHRISTIAN VANNEQUE ON WINE CULTURE in Indonesia – SIP Wine Bar
After the 1968 death of the Marquis Bernard de Lur-Saluces, the château was run by Comte Alexandre de Lur-Saluces, a minority (7%) owner. The Comte inherited a typical annual production of 66,000 bottles a year. After the 1973 oil crisis, demand fell and prices plummeted. The price of a bottle of d’Yquem dropped to 35 francs; prices began to rise only in the 1980s.
Under the Comte’s leadership, “tractors replaced horses, collapsing cellars were renovated, and unused acreage was planted”, with production in good years reaching 100,000 bottles and sales about $10 million.
Following a bitter family feud and the decision of Eugene de Lur-Saluces (Alexandre’s other brother) to sell part of his 47% share of the business, on 28 November 1996, the French luxury goods giant LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton bought 55% of Château d’Yquem from the family of the Comte Alexandre de Lur-Saluces for about $100 million. The Comte, after first challenging the sale in court for over two years, was kept as the manager of the estate.
On 17 May 2004, the Comte retired and was replaced by the current managing director of Château Cheval Blanc, Pierre Lurton. The Comte had been known for being particularly dedicated towards maintaining quality, going so far as to reject an entire batch of the wine if he did not like the results of a randomised testing.
In 2006, a 135-year vertical (containing every vintage from 1860 to 2003) was sold by The Antique Wine Company in London for $1.5 million, one of the highest prices ever paid for a single lot of wine. Also that year, Dior and Château d’Yquem together created a skin care product made from the sap of the Yquem vines.
In July 2011, an 1811 bottle of Château d’Yquem sold for £75,000 ($117,000) at the Ritz in London to a private collector, Christian Vanneque, to become the most expensive bottle of white wine ever sold.
The vineyard has 126 hectares (310 acres) in the Sauternes appellation, though only 100 hectares (250 acres) are in production at any time. Each year, vines from two to three hectares are grubbed up and left fallow for a year. Since grapes from newly planted vines are not worthy of the chateau name for five to seven years, about 20 hectares are held in reserve each year. The vines consist of 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon blanc, though the latter’s vigour implies the proportions are more nearly equal in the final wine.
Harvesting is carefully timed, and on average six tries through the vineyard are undertaken each year to ensure that only the botrytized grapes are selected. The yield averages nine hectolitres per hectare (2.5 acres), compared to the usual twelve to twenty hectolitres per hectare in Sauternes. The grapes are pressed three times and transferred to oak barrels for maturation over a period of about three years.
On average, 65,000 bottles are produced each year. In a poor vintage, the entire crop is deemed unworthy of bearing the Château’s name and sold anonymously; this happened nine times in the 20th century: 1910, 1915, 1930, 1951, 1952, 1964, 1972, 1974, and 1992 and in the 21st century one time: 2012.
Vintages We’d Love to Buy
chateau yquem 1847
chateau yquem 1928
chateau yquem 1976
chateau yquem 1990
chateau yquem 1995
chateau yquem 1996
chateau yquem 1998
chateau yquem 1999
chateau yquem 2001
chateau yquem 2005