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Château d'Yquem

World famous winery in the area Sauterne (Graves, Bordeaux). In the Bordeaux Classification in 1855 the château was the only one to be awarded the “Premieur Cru Classé Supérieur” rating, making it the highest classified winery in the Bordelais. The castle overlooks the surrounding vineyards of Sauternes on a 75 meter high mountain. In 1993 the 400th anniversary was celebrated. During the English rule in Bordeaux between 1152 and 1453 it was in the possession of the English crown and then belonged to the French King Charles VII (1403-1461). A Jacques de Sauvage leased it in 1593 (which is the year it was founded), and it was bought by his descendants in 1711.

In 1785, the Comte Louis-Amédée de Lur-Saluces married the young François-Josephine, the last heiress of the Sauvage d'Yquem family, who brought in the castle and winery as a dowry (hence the name). For the next two hundred years it remained family-owned and was converted into an AG in the 1990s. The group has owned 64% of the shares since 1999 LVMH, Comte Alexandre de Lur-Saluces as the last descendant still has shares and was also the general director for many years. In 2004 there was a separation due to differences with the owner, his successor was Pierre Lurton,

The then President of the United States, then acting as US Ambassador to France, later Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) visited the estate in 1787 and after tasting had 30 bottles sent to America to his friend George Washington (1732-1799). The noble family developed the very complex and costly wine production, no other good uses so much effort. Whoever was actually the first in Sauternes, the one very sweet There are different versions of wine made. Jefferson knew that Dessert wine Certainly not in its current form, but it was still created in the style of the "Y" at the time (see below).

Legend has it that a descendant of the family returned late from a trip to Russia in 1847 and only went through Botrytis shrunken, rotten grapes. He therefore ordered a "late harvest". Another variant says that the German owner of the Château La Tour Blanche had experimented with the production of sweet wine. In any case, the first vintage of the d'Yquem as we know it today was the 1847. The Russian Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolajewitsch (1827-1892) tasted the wine in 1859 and brought it to Russia, where it became an absolute fashion drink under "Yquem".

Château d’Yquem

Today's vineyard area of 106 hectares on sandy gravel and clay soil is planted with 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. The quality criteria are extremely strict, so there was no production at all in 1964, 1972, 1974 and 1992. The production is extremely complex. Every year about three hectares of vineyards are cleared and only after three years fallow created again. There will be none pesticides It is used and fertilized only every three to four years with horse manure. In summer, the leaves of the grape zone are removed, exposing the berries to maximum sunlight. The vintage usually begins in mid-October and often extends into December due to the extensive practice.

The grapes are carefully hand-picked by around 120 harvest helpers (specialists) in at least six to eleven Tris, that is, crops harvested (as in 1972, the 11 Tris were spread over 71 days, but there was still no Château d'Yquem). Often only a few noble rot berries are picked from a grape. The harvest is extremely limited (maximum 9 hl / ha) and only delivers a fraction of a normal white vintage. Only one glass of wine is obtained from a vine (approximately one bottle for normal wine), which results in approximately 1,000 bottles per hectare. Only about 80,000 bottles of the sweet Château d'Yquem (and 20,000 of the dry white wine "Y") are produced annually. The individual daily harvest quantities (journée) are fermented individually. It is done three times Press the mash and the must these three processes are mixed.

The fermentation takes place at 20 ° Celsius and lasts two to six weeks. Then the wine contains 13 to 14% vol alcohol and 80 to 120 g / l residual sugar, It is poured into 100% new barrique barrels without clarification, only two thirds of which are filled. There is tapping and decanting every three months, and the barrels are never completely filled. The total shrinkage is 20%, so replenishment takes place every two weeks. There is a repeated one beautiful (basically without protein), but none filtration, After an expansion of at least three and a half to four years, the assemblage takes place, 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc being used as a rule. Each individual barrel is checked and, depending on the quality of the year, a part (at least 10%) is excreted and sold in the barrel. The lavishly sweet taste of the wine is incomparable, it smells strongly of honey, its color changes to pale gold over the years.

A Château d'Yquem usually only reaches maturity after six to seven years at the earliest, but the really big ones vintages last forever. One of the most famous vintages is the legendary 1811, It was also called "Napoleon wine" (or "comet wine") because of the French emperor Napoleon (1769-1821) was at the peak of his fame. In July 2011, the Antique Wine Company in London a bottle of this year for £ 75,000 to the well-known former sommelier Christian Vanneque sold. This was with the legendary in 1976 Paris Wine Tasting been there. The authenticity of the bottle was checked after careful examination of bottles label and capsule confirmed by the Château itself. With this high retail price, this wine is the one most expensive white wine in the world,

The outstanding vintages are 1784, 1811, 1814, 1825, 1847, 1921, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1959, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1994. Many of them are not yet at their peak. The well-known Swiss taster René, who evaluates according to the 20-point system Gabriel awarded 21 points for the 1937 vintage and described it as "over wine". Incidentally, in 1998 one of the famous German wine collectors Hardy took place in Munich Rodenstock (1941-2018) organized legendary tastings and described in a book with 125 different, sometimes very old, Château d'Yquem vintages. Since 1959 a dry white wine has been produced from grapes that are not noble rot, half of Sémillon and half of Sauvignon Blanc, which bears the idiosyncratic name "Y" (French Ygrec = Ypsilon). This is similar in taste and alcohol content, but has only a very fine hint of sweetness (and is much cheaper). But it won't second wine produced.

Picture: © Benjamin Zingg - Switzerland

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