Celebrated for producing the world’s most famous – and most expensive - sweet wine, Château d’Yquem, located in the Sauternes region, dates back to the 16th century, and is the only property in Sauternes which was classified as Premier Cru Superieur at the Bordeaux Classification of 1855. Sémillon grapes dominate the estate at 75%, followed by 25% of Sauvignon Blanc, and both are impacted by the introduction of what had long been Bordeaux’s best kept secret: Noble Rot. Incorporating a process that includes using Botrytis Cinerea mold to concentrate the sweetness of the fruit, d’Yquem raises the natural sugar content that is so essential to the wine. Balanced by acidity and able to successfully age for decades, this regal wine – so regal that a crown graces its label – delivers an incomparable, creamy opulence like no other.
Château d’Yquem was owned by the King of England in the Middle Ages, and has produced this signature late-harvest wine since the 16th century. Its nearly 115 hectares rest on Sauternes’ highest elevations, and feature warm, dry topsoil consisting of gravel and pebbles over a clay foundation. This moist subsoil assists the noble rot process, as does the area’s maritime climate, but approximately 100 kilometers of drains help in preventing waterlogging. Because of the labor and cost intensive noble rot process, yields are relatively low, averaging at 900 liters per hectare. Around 65,000 bottles are produced per annum, although this number is vulnerable to the very elements which define its product: climate and mold. An overabundance of either or both can literally eliminate production during any harvest.
While the sweet, honeyed d’Yquem is king, the Château also produces a second wine called simply “Y.” Made primarily from Sauvignon Blanc, it features a hint of botrytized Sémillon, creating a crisp, dry counterpart to d’Yquem’s treasured sweet wine.
Château d’Yquem is unique in its long-standing family ownership. The Lur-Saluces family retained the property for over two hundred years – from 1785 to 1999 – until they sold it to the French luxury groups conglomerate, LVMH.