The Dessert of Presidents — Pourriture Noble of Yquem
In 1477, wine and herring merchant Ramon Felipe Eyquem bought an estate in the southern part of Bordeaux. It would take another two centuries for the first vines to be planted around what the world has come to know as Château d’Yquem.
Thomas Jefferson visited the château in 1784, while he served as Minister Plenipotentiary to France. Shortly after that visit, the author of our Declaration of Independence wrote, “This is the best white wine of France and the best of it is made by Monsieur de Lur-Saluces.” Jefferson ordered 250 bottles of the 1784 Château d’Yquem for himself — and a few more for President George Washington.
The wine our Founding Fathers enjoyed bore little resemblance to the Château d’Yquem of today, as the techniques for encouraging the formation of pourriture noble (or “noble rot”) had yet to be invented — techniques that would make for the most age-worthy and priceless white wine in the world.
Seven decades after Jefferson’s visit, the Bordeaux Classification of 1855 conferred a unique honor to Yquem, naming it the only Premier Cru SUPÉRIEUR (or “First GREAT Growth”) while others like Margaux, Haut-Brion, Lafite, and Lafite Rothschild were designated Premier Cru.
Today, the vineyards of Château d’Yquem comprise 310 acres. Perhaps more than at any estate in the world, the vines of d’Yquem are not so much tended as nurtured, eking out a tiny crop each year of botrytised Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. The call to harvest at Château d’Yquem is the most carefully calibrated in Bordeaux. On average, the vineyard crew passes through the vines six times before a row is completely harvested, eyeballing every cluster before picking. Yields are minuscule — well under a ton per acre, roughly one-fifth that of Château Lafite Rothschild. 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 2010 Château d’Yquem is a dazzling elixir of liquid gold. Vivid yellow with golden hues. It is a mesmerizing and unctuous wine that offers a tantalizing bouquet of dried apricot, sweet nectarine, peach preserves, orange blossoms of honeysuckle. “Very fresh, rich and sweet on entry, then extremely light on its feet,” gushed Antonio Galloni’s Vinous. “Stunningly rich,” with “great power to go with its acidity and sweetness,” raved Wine Enthusiast. James Suckling was spellbound, calling the 2010 d’Yquem “incredibly fresh and lively” and a “perfectly manicured wine” that has “everything in the right place.”
96-98 points. Elsewhere $450/bottle. Today just $299 — best price in the USA. 240 bottles — each 375 mL bottle drawn directly from Château d’Yquem’s hallowed cellars. Shipping included on all orders.