Famous for being famous applies to wine as well as to people. Some wines are expensive simply because they cost a lot of money. Other wines sell for a lot of money because they are worth it. The truth that few people will admit to is, most expensive wines are over priced for their quality
Why won’t most tasters admit expensive wines are over priced? Perhaps they paid a lot of money and they do not want to look foolish. I have lost track of how many times a special bottle was opened and I know that wine was dead. It had ceased to exist like the parrot in the Monty Python skit.
Most of the time, wines sell for ridiculous prices because they have a reputation. But every now and then, you run across an expensive wine that not only delivers, but it’s even better than you hoped for. That is exactly what happened last week.
Chateau d’Yquem is the most expensive Bordeaux wine from Sauternes. In part, this has to do with reputation. Even Thomas Jefferson, our third president and first Bordeaux wine loving president was passionate about Chateau d’Yquem. in great vintages! Yquem is in a class by itself. In average vintages, while Yquem might be the finest wine of Sauternes, it’s not worth the money. In the best years, at least until the 2005 vintage, this sublime wine was worth the money. Today, it’s priced above what it should sell for as a young wine in today’s market.
Last week I tasted what could simply be called “Heaven In A Glass”!
100 points – Tasted Sep 5, 2010
1975 Chateau d’Yquem – With the color of pure, honey, the aromatics can seemingly be experienced from across the room with its pungent aromatics! Apricots, oranges, flowers, roasted pineapples, caramel, grilled nuts all drenched in Acacia honey. Thick, concentrated, rich, lush and opulent fruit coats your mouth, teeth and gums. But its the perfect balance that becomes evident with the lift of acidity that makes this one of the best dessert wines ever produced. The long, honey coated, tropical fruit filled, seamless finish lasts over 60 seconds! This stunning wine is flawless. Perhaps the 2001 will be better. And in 25 years, when that wine begins to enter maturity, we’ll find out, But for today, I cannot think of a vintage of Chateau d’Yquem that offers better drinking.
In fact, I cannot think of a better dessert wine. But I suppose that’s a topic for another day. Or is it? Your commments are welcome.
We’ll be opening my long held bottle of 1975 Château d’Yquem at a special dinner at the best restaurant in our small Midwestern city of Madison, Wisconsin: L’Etoile. Not sure what all Chef Itaru will put together with this fabulous Sauternes in mind, but I’ve already enjoyed the other two bottles of it that I obtained, and had a very hard time disciplining myself to wait and wait and wait. Recently saw it on a wine list in Paris for a stunning €7,000 and decided that it is time to drink it, lest some accident happen. I’ll make a note to share my fellow diners’ opinions, and mine, after we drink it with a fabulous meal. It is, indeed, a truly fantastic wine from a fantastic vintage. I’ve had quite a few 1975 and 1976 Sauternes, I daresay, from Yquem each of the First Growths. It is marvelous wine, and more suited to enjoying with a meal than people think. It isn’t a dessert wine, I think that thinking of it that way is a real disservice to nature, the wine itself, and those who make it. But so long as it does not enjoy the popularity non-sweet wines enjoy, perhaps the prices will be more reasonable than they might otherwise be.
I acquired recently 85 cases of mixed wines from Napa and Sonoma. I am was pleasantly surprised to find 8-10 cases of 1975 Sauternes in the lot. Chateau Clinems, Rieussecand the great Chateau d’yqui. I opened the Rieussec first (first come …) It was fantastic, all the tasting notes are on the money, honey, butterscotch, roasted almond, apricot, a hint of peach. I am now a lover of this wine. I can’t wait to open one of the splits of d’yquim this week end.
The point about other expensive wines disappointing is a very valid one. Even in the off vintages you mention Yquem can enthrall and there are now a whole series of other top Sauternes running Yquem very close for quality year in, year out. The secret is the preservative powers of sugar which really do prevent and/or delay some of the more off putting effects of aging – old Sauternes or Barsac in my experience rarely disappoints and nearly always fascinates. Also a slight quibble – Yquem and Sauternes are so much more than dessert wines and if I could change anything it would be peoples perceptions that they should only be drunk at the end of a meal.
Steve…. I am a big fan of Sauternes. Sadly, not enough people are drinking them. I wish you could get the Bordeaux wine makers to serve more Sauternes with meals. If you ever have time to submit an article or post or Sauternes, please do so, as many people value your opinion. Please feel free to post on our wine talk forums.
If you can you should try the 1976 as well. In my opinion just as spectacular but in a different way, less alcohol and a little more forward than the 75. But both are great mature Yquems and worth every penny.
Thanks for posting. I really like the 76 Chateau d’Yquem as well. For my palate, the 75 is a more complete wine. The fruit is fresher and expresses more sweetness. But I have not had the 76 for a few years. Maybe the next bottle will change my mind.
This is the best wine ever. I feel really lucky that I was able to share some last night (12/15/10) with some wonderful friends.
As you can see from my review, I agree with you 100%! 1975 Cateau d’Yquem is one of the best sweet wines I have ever tasted. I am glad you were able to enjoy it
The 1975 is an awesome wine, but you should try one of the older vintages of Yquem to see how great this wine can be. Get a group of 12 friends to go in on a bottle of the 1929, 1945 or 1959. They will show you that the 1975 will get even better over the next 20 years!