1997 Château d'Yquem Sauternes Wine Tasting Note


1997 Château d'Yquem  (Sauternes) 96

This is one of the better buys for Chateau d'Yquem these days. What a beautiful expression of sweet wine. The nose pops with sweet, ripe and overripe pineapple, apricots, spice, coconut, creme de caramel, candied orange rind and butterscotch. Rich, sweet, lusciously textured waves of honey-coated tropical fruits on the mid-palate, that come along with the right shot of acidity make this an effortless sweet treat to drink. This is fabulous today and it is only going to get better from here for the next 2-3 or 4 decades!

1957 Views   Tasted

On a rapid path to full maturity, the wine delivers a beautiful, purity of ripe, and over ripe tropical fruit, honey, floral and spice notes, all wrapped up in an elegant, silky, opulently, textured bundle.

5153 Views   Tasted 96

The nose is complex, with time, buttered popcorn, caramel, butterscotch, candied orange, honey, pineapple and apricot scents emerge. Fresh, sweet, concentrated, vibrant, long and not at all heavy or cloying, this is still quite young, yet, with its all its attributes, it's a treat to drink today. Patient consumers will be happy in 10, 20, 30 or or more years I'm quite sure. This was the perfect end to a great Thanksgiving dinner.

4755 Views   Tasted 96

Opened for International Sweet Wine day, this was a stunner. White peaches, flowers, apricot and pineapples were slathered in honey and vanilla. The wine is rich, concentrated, full bodied and luscious, with sweetness, viscosity and freshness. Still young, this is great now and it's only going to get better with 5, 10, 20 or 30 years of age, depending on how you like it.

5779 Views   Tasted 96

Another fabulous tasting experience. It's a treat to sample the balancing act between the layers of perfectly ripe, honeyed tropical fruits and the acidity that keeps everything lively and fresh. Still young, you can pop a cork today for its youthful exuberance, or wait a few decades for the caramel, butterscotch and spicy notes to appear.

5142 Views   Tasted 96

Drinking d'Yquem never gets old. The beautiful, perfectly ripe tropical fruit drenched in honey, vanilla and spicy tones, coupled with racy acidity keeps the wine fresh and exciting. Still young, the wine has barely moved, except in texture. But you do not have to wait for decades to experience this wine. It's great today and will be even better if, or when your grandchildren open it. That is... if you can keep your hands off it.

5760 Views   Tasted 96

If you want Chateau d'Yquem in your cellar and you do not want to spend the money for the 2001, run, do not walk and buy this wine. It's a very good example of what makes Yquem great! With the perfect level of acidity to create freshness and lift, the extremely ripe pineapple, apricot, tropical fruit, floral, vanilla, nut and spice aromas are worth the price of admission. On the palate, the elegant wine is not heavy, it's about balance, purity and sweetness, coupled with lift. If you like your Sauternes young, and most people do, pop a cork! If you prefer waiting, there is no hurry on this winner.

6862 Views   Tasted 96

Medium rich with honeyed, tropical fruit notes and vanilla. This is a very well made Yquem, perfectly balancing acidity and sweetness. But, it lacks the concentration, depth and level of botrytis found in the best years. For my palate, this is probably what a vintage like 70 or 71 tasted like young.

4079 Views   Tasted 95
Yquem Wine Tasting Notes, Ratings

When to Drink Chateau d'Yquem, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time

Chateau d'Yquem can be enjoyed on the young side with no decanting. Of course the wine is sweet, but there is so much, incredible, racy acidity, the wine always feels fresh, and never cloying, which makes it quite fun to enjoy young. With Chateau d'Yquem and frankly, all Sauternes, temperature is more important than decanting.

Chateau d'Yquem is delicious on release. But d'Yquem does not reach full maturity for 35-50 years, or even longer in the best vintages! That is when the magic happens! But that is unrealistic for 99% of the world's wine drinkers. So, enjoy it at any special occasion that calls for it.

Serving Chateau d'Yquem with Wine and Food Pairings

Chateau d'Yquem is best served at 14 degrees Celsius, 57 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. The wine will naturally, slowly warm in the glass, while it develops more aromatic complexities and fleshes out.

Chateau d'Yquem can be served with seafood dishes, especially shellfish, lobster, crab and oysters on the half shell. Foie gras is a perfect pairing with its natural sweet, salty and savory characteristics. Chateau d'Yquem can also be paired with roasted chicken, veal and pork dishes that are either spicy, or prepared with a touch of sweetness.

Spicy Asian cuisine, raw fish, like sushi or sashimi, and cheese, both hard and soft also make great pairings with Chateau d'Yquem.

Chateau d'Yquem Dry White Wine

Chateau d'Yquem also produces a dry, white Bordeaux wine called "Y," which is pronounced (Ygrec). The wine is only made in select vintages. The first vintage for the production of dry, white wine at Chateau d'Yquem took place in 1959.

To make the dry white Bordeaux wine of d'Yquem, the fruit the estate uses does not only come from declassified grapes. Most of the berries are picked before the harvesting of the grapes for the production of Chateau d'Yquem has started.

When harvesting for Ygrec, the vines and grapes are chosen prior to harvest. However, while one bunch of Sauvignon Blanc on the vine is designated for Ygrec, the remaining bunch can be used for d'Yquem, if the necessary amount of noble rot develops.

For the Semillon used in Ygrec, the grapes are harvested just prior to the full development of noble rot.

Close to 80% of the parcels used to produce their dry white wine can change from vintage to vintage.

The blend of "Y" is normally close to 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon. Interestingly, this is almost the complete opposite of the grape blend that is placed in Chateau d'Yquem! Since 2000, it become more common to see vintages of "Y," than in previous years.

This is due to an increase in the production. However starting with 2005, Ygrec has been made in every vintage. Today, slightly less than 1,000 cases are produced of "Y" each year.

To produce the dry white Bordeaux wine from d'Yquem, the wine is vinified in stainless steel vats. In fact, in 2012, the estate added several new, gleaming, stainless steels for the vinification. There is no malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in 50% new, French oak barrels for an average of 10 months.

During its aging time, the wine is aged on its lees. This marks a major change in the wine, as previously, the wine was aged for up to 18 months in barrel before bottling.

Starting with the 2011 vintage, the chateau completely redesigned the label for "Y". The dry white wine of Yquem, "Y" is sold as a Bordeaux Superieur Blanc. Chateau d'Yquem does not produce a second wine. Instead, they declassify the unwanted grapes or wine.

While the estate strives to make a vintage of Chateau d'Yquem every year, that is not always possible. Chateau d'Yquem ended up declassifying the entire harvest and did not make wine in the following vintages, 1910, 1915, 1930, 1951, 1952, 1964, 1972, 1974, 1992 and 2012.

Even with as many as thirteen separate passes in the vineyards, as the grapes were not up to their high standard to produce a wine worthy of Chateau d'Yquem, they did not produce any wine in those years.

So, what does Chateau d'Yquem do with the declassified wine? In the past, declassified grapes that were not used in the production of their dry, white wine "Y", were sold off in bulk and used to produce a generic, Sauternes wine.

Today, declassified grapes are also used to produce a special blend of declassified d'Yquem that is only available to employees through internal sales at the property. The wine is not meant to be sold as a commercial product. The wine is classed as a generic AOC Sauternes wine.