For centuries Y'quem has been unchallenged as the finest example of Sauternes and the most famous sweet wine in the world. The estate's history dates to 1593, and since 1855, Yquem has existed literally in a class of its own -- the only wine from Sauternes and Barsac labeled a Premier Cru Supérieur. In the Lur Saluces family for centuries, it was purchased by LVMH in 1999, ending a three century stewardship and the end of an era.
The vineyard at Yquem covers 126 hectares, of which only 100 are in production at any time. Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc vines produce tiny yields, which are harvested in a number of labor-intensive passes through the vineyard. Wine is then cellared for three years in new oak barrels. The result is a dramatically rich Sauternes of dizzying complexity and extravagant depth, capable of aging effortlessly for decades, even centuries. In fact, the most expensive bottle of white wine ever sold was a bottle of 1811 Château d'Yquem. It went for a cool $117,000 at the Ritz in London in 2011.