Owners LVMH took the decision to delay the release of the 2019 Yquem until spring 2022. It was tasted with winemaker Sandrine Garbay in London. After the summer drought when Sauternes received just 2.5mm of rain until 26 July, that day saw a 112mm deluge that replenished underground reserves and gave ripening the push it needed. Dry and warm conditions prevailed throughout September when there was no sign of botrytis infection. That was finally provoked by 38mm of rain between 21 and 25 of September, followed by warm clement weather. After minor picking of Sauvignon Blanc on 7 of October, the main harvest began in earnest on 10 October. Pickers worked over the following five days, including Sunday. Time was of the essence because, as forecasts predicted, the weather suddenly changed on 14 of October with 40mm or rain. After that, the picking teams skirted between showers between 17 and 22 of October, though by now the fruit had begun to deteriorate. Therefore, the key aspect of this Yquem is the extremely tight picking window. The final blend contains 138g/L residual sugar, which is slightly less than the previous vintage, with 5.5g/L total acidity and 14.4% alcohol. Tasting the 2019, I noticed that it has a slightly paler hue compared to recent vintages (though I never read too much into the colour of young Sauternes.) For certain, it has a highly-aromatic bouquet that is beguiling in purity, enticing aromas of honeysuckle and saffron, soon joined by camomile, white flowers and orange blossom. It has wonderful delineation and gains intensity with aeration. The palate is supremely well-balanced with fine bead of acidity. Very harmonious and armed with just the right amount of viscosity, this Yquem is surprisingly understated at first but gains presence, offering irresistible flavours of layers of honey, lemongrass, lemon thyme and orange pith. Yquem is so tempting in its youth, but I feel that this vintage will repay those with the nous to cellar for at least a decade.
Pale lemon-gold in color, the 2019 Château d’Yquem springs forth with confident, alluring scents of lime blossoms, mandarin peel, and candied lemon slices over a core of fresh pineapple, white peaches, and crushed stones, plus a hint of shaved ginger. The palate absolutely pops with vibrant citrus flavors accented by tropical fruits and peachy nuances, supported by an achingly velvety texture and seamless freshness, finishing with long-lasting mineral and floral fireworks. An irresistible fat-cheeked baby with that Mona Lisa smile at the moment, give it 6-8 years in the cellar to begin to reveal its opulent personality, and then drink it over the next 30-35 years+. The blend is 55% Semillon and 45% Sauvignon Blanc with 138 g/L of residual sugar and a pH of 3.9. The alcohol weighs in at 14.4. 2028-2060
Clear push and pull between acidity and lusciousness from the first moments. A higher percentage of Sauvignon Blanc than in a typical year, showing in sculpted gunsmoke and white truffle on the opening beats. Fresher flavours continue with lemongrass and lime zest, broadening out into luscious mango, grilled caramel, pineapple and brioche, and a welcome edge of bitterness on the finish with mandarin peel and oyster shell salinity. As has so often been the case in recent years, the team at Yquem needed to hold their nerve, as a dry September meant the noble rot took its time to get underway, with harvest finally taking place from around October 10 though to early November. 138g/l residual sugar, 10hl/h yield. Organic conversion began in August 2019, with certification expected 2022. Winemaker Sandrine Garbay.