In 1784, Thomas Jefferson visited Sauternes. Upon his return to Monticello, Jefferson wrote, “This is the best white wine of France and the best of it is made by Monsieur de Lur-Saluces.” As our first Secretary of State, Jefferson ordered 250 bottles of the 1784 Château d’Yquem for himself — and a few more for President Washington.
Though today’s missive might read better if we were to tell you that the wine Jefferson tasted in 1784 was much like the Yquem of today, of course that’s not the case. The techniques for encouraging the formation of pourriture noble (or “noble rot”) had yet to be invented — techniques that would enable the golden-honey purity of the most age-worthy wine and most priceless white on the planet.
When we entered the courtyard in June, it had been nearly 20 years since we last visited Château d’Yquem. The vineyards of the château now comprise 310 acres, vines that are not so much tended as nurtured. The call to harvest at Château d’Yquem is the most carefully calibrated in Bordeaux. On average, the vineyard crew passes through and selectively picks each row six times before the harvest is complete. Yields are minuscule — just 9 hectoliters per hectare, roughly one-fifth that of the First Growths of Pauillac, Lafite Rothschild, and Latour. Grapes, caked with pourriture noble, are gently pressed three times before being transferred to oak barrels, where the wine is left to age for three years before bottling.
The 2011 Château d’Yquem is one of the most extraordinary, highly rated, and sought-after bottles ever to come off the estate, a golden elixir that will age gracefully over the next century. Tasted out of half bottles at Michelin-star Restaurant St. James on June 6th: Brilliant, silver-gold in hue, the nose alone is well worth the price of admission, featuring mouthwatering aromas of bitter honey, beeswax, honeysuckle, and fresh vanilla. Extravagant on entry, exquisite in its focus and pristine delineation, weighty and dense, 2011 was a highly botrytized vintage, making for luscious flavors of wild honey, dried apricot, orange peel, and ripe citrus — finishing with tremendous poise and persistence, arguing gracefully for 25-75 years of cellar slumber!
99 points from Wine Spectator. 180 half bottles have been secured by WineAccess directly from the cellars outside of Bordeaux. Offered at $215/bottle. Shipping included on 2.
Bright gold color, fragrant, floral, honey nose. Intensity to match the richness on the opening. Expansive, mouthfilling texture, with enough acidity to balance the residual sugar. Melon, anise and citrus hints appeared. Long finish.
DRINK 2020 thru 2060
exceptional a dream come true
Christmas Eve with Fois Gras...superb
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