Château d'Yquem


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375 ml (Demi or Half)


Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc




94 Points - Wine Spectator 92 Points - Robert Parker


13.00% alc vol Sugar g/l: 130
Type: Dessert Cellaring Potential: 50 years+
Origin: Bordeaux Appellation: Sauternes

Tasting Notes:

The 1999 was particularly impressive for the vintage. It was superbly focused and beautiful on the nose, with sugared lemons, tropical fruit and maple syrup character. Full-bodied and thick, yet very fine, it was extremely sweet and long.





Great wines are not born just anywhere, by accident. A unique set of climatic and geological conditions combine to form a rare equilibrium. This is undoubtedly the case at Yquem, which epitomises all that is best about the singular winegrowing environment in Sauternes. Château d'Yquem's topsoil is warm and dry, accumulating heat thanks to smooth flat pebbles and coarse gravel. The clay subsoil contains good water reserves and there are numerous springs on the estate. Drainage pipes were installed some time ago to prevent waterlogging (100 km of drains since the 19th century). Yquem's large size made it possible to plant 113 hectares of vines on a very representative sampling of the rich tapestry of the Sauternes region's soil types. This extraordinary variety of soils is a key factor in the quality and complexity of Château d’Yquem.

Grape growing at Château d'Yquem remains very traditional. Fertiliser is exclusively organic and used sparingly. Furthermore, only 20 hectares are fertilised a year. This compost maintains the soil's natural equilibrium while keeping it from becoming too rich or fertile, as this would prevent the vines from producing wines of character. Chemical weed killers are never used. The soil undergoes regular cycles of manual work: earthing up twice a year, unearthing twice a year, and countless other vineyard operations. The vines are severely pruned in early winter to limit yields and encourage maximum ripeness. The Sémillon is spur pruned (two to three renewal spurs with two buds), whereas the more vigorous Sauvignon Blanc is 90% spur pruned and 10% Single Guyot pruned. Château d'Yquem's twenty female vineyard workers are each assigned specific plots, so they become familiar with virtually each vine. Among other duties, they are responsible for green pruning operations such as bud pruning as well as tying up and removing side shoots. The final touch before the vintage is leaf thinning on the eastern side of some 700,000 vines so the grapes dry more quickly in the morning while continuing to protect the western side most exposed to rain.

It takes no more than one hour for grapes picked at Château d'Yquem to arrive at the cellar. Pressing takes into account the texture and fragility of the fruit. The grapes are pressed three or four times at Yquem. As opposed to other white wines, the sugar content and quality increase with each pressing. The first pressing in a pneumatic winepress produces 75% of the total juice, with about 19° potential alcohol. The second yields 15% of the total juice, with about 21° potential alcohol, while the third can reach up to 25°. The hard cake of pomace is then broken up, destemmed, and put through a low-capacity vertical press. If the harvest is very small, we use these same vertical presses exclusively, without recourse to pneumatic presses. Wines from the various pressings are blended before barrel fermentation. Unusually in Sauternes, fermentation at Yquem takes place in barrel to maintain maximum control over this most delicate and mysterious part of winemaking. Only new barrels are used each year. These are made with the finest stave oak from forests in the eastern part of central France. Each individual barrel is closely monitored, and the château's in-house laboratory carries out regular analyses. The most active musts finish fermenting in just two weeks. However, others can take up to six weeks. Fermentation stops naturally in all instances. The alcohol content at Château d'Yquem varies from 12.5° to 14.5° according to the sugar content of the must. The ideal figure is 13.5° with 120 to 150 g/l of residual sugar.

Wine made from grapes picked on the same day is aged separately for six to eight months. A preliminary blend is made from selected batches in the spring following the harvest. After taste tests and laboratory analyses, wines not up to the château's strict standards are set aside. The barrels that have been retained are then moved to the ageing cellar where they will stay for twenty months. Every barrel is topped up twice a week. This consists of adding wine to fill up the airspace created by evaporation at the top of the barrel. Furthermore, every barrel is racked fifteen times to remove heavy lees. Light sediment in suspension is removed by a process called fining. The rigorous selection process continues in the cellar. Towards the end of barrel ageing, a rigorous selection takes place at blind tastings. This will determine the final blend of Château d’Yquem.

Food pairing

A perfectly ripe peach, lightly sugared with a serving of Roquefort.

Dessert Hard Cheese Soft Cheese Chocolate
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