On Tuesday 28th November, we concluded our 2023 Estate Nights series with an incredible dinner alongside Chateau d’Yquem. Tasting six decades of this famed Sauternes throughout the evening demonstrated the wine’s versatility and broke any stereotype that Yquem is only an after-dinner drink. Surrounded by the grandeur of the China Tang restaurant at The Dorchester, this was an evening to remember.

“Yquem is the most elegant way to travel through time.”
– Lorenzo Pasquini, Estate Manager

Upon arrival…

Following aperitifs in the China Tang bar, we made our way through to an intimate private dining room, adorned with intricate wooden panelling, where we were to uncover the seemingly endless versatility of Chateau d’Yquem. Lorenzo Pasquini, Estate Manager at Yquem, introduced us to our first two wines: Y de Yquem 2017 and Chateau d’Yquem 2020. Y (pronounced in the French for the letter, ‘Ygrec’) de Yquem was brilliantly described by Lorenzo as being a Bordeaux white “with a shadow of Yquem” – the slight botrytised sweetness showing through ever-so gently. Alongside the youthful Chateau d’Yquem 2020, the flavour profiles of these wines combined perfectly with our delicious first course of Stuffed Crab Shell.

Travelling back through the years, we were treated next to Chateau d’Yquem 2009. With just over an extra decade of age on the 2020, the intensity and depth of flavours started making themselves known. Paired with the classic Peking Duck, everyone was more than eager to go back for seconds. Next followed a plethora of mouth-watering dishes, including China Tang’s iconic Sir David’s Hot and Sour Soup, Golden King Prawns with Salted Egg Yolk, Stir-fried Beef in Black Pepper, Chicken with Spices and Cantonese Fried Rice. We jumped back again for our next tasting of the Chateau d’Yquem 1990; opulence in a glass and an emergence of delicately dried fruits. Next came one of the stars of the evening, Chateau d’Yquem 1984. To the surprise of many at the table, this wine was an absolute beauty. As the vintage itself is consdiered particularly poor in Bordeaux, we exchanged looks of amazement across the table at how well these bottles of Yquem were drinking. An incredible display of nutty caramel and dried Clementines, it was a wonderful segway to our final wine of the night. 1976 is an iconic year in the world of wines for many reasons. Perhaps most memorably is that is was the year of the Judgement of Paris, the famed wine tasting in which several ‘nouveau’ Californian wines trumped the classic French offerings. However, Lorenzo explained to us that for Yquem, 1976 was one of the great vintages of the last century. And this clearly came across in our glasses. An almost brick-red coloured liquid was poured out the bottles. With further ageing, Yquem will turn brown and ultimately black when even older, becoming unrecognisable from its younger counterparts. What was truly incredible about the older vintages we tasted this evening is the acidity which holds these wines together. Developing over the decades in bottle adds a magic to Chateau d’Yquem that is found in few other places in the world.

'KING OF SAUTERNES'

About Yquem

Chateau d’Yquem is simply iconic. Known for producing one of the world’s greatest sweet wines, Yquem’s fine history dates back to the late 16th Century when Jacques de Sauvage acquired the estate from the French monarchy. It remained in the same family through marriage for nearly 200 years. Yquem garnered many accolades and appreciation from famous names throughout history, including Thomas Jefferson – Yquem was his favourite French white wine and records show that he ordered 250 bottles for himself, and more for George Washington! In 1968, Yquem was taken over by Comte Alexandre de Lur-Saluces, to whom much of the estate’s modernisation is credited. In 1999, Chateau d’Yquem was sold to the luxury goods company Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy however former owner and director Alexandre remains in charge.

The estate itself is situated on the highest point in the commune of Sauternes and  has wonderful views over the surrounding countryside. Yquem’s 110 hectares of vineyards are planted to 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes are only harvested when they are fully botrytized; it is this ‘noble rot’ that produces such elegant sweet wines. Expert pickers are so selective during the harvest that yields are so low that one vine only produces one glass of Yquem. The wines are aged in 100% new oak barrels, resulting in a product that is unequalled by fellow Sauternes. When young, the wine has a nose of apricots, mandarin and oak. However they age extraordinarily and the complex flavours are harmonised with the wine’s sweetness and balanced acidity. It is no surprise that the estate is ranked as Premier Cru Classé supérieur.

Available Wines

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