Chateau d'Yquem is located in the Sauternes region in
the southern part of Bordeaux.
Bordeaux is a famous wine producing region in Southwestern France.
457 acres of vineyards.
In the Sauternes
and Barsac Classification of 1855, Chateau d'Yquem
was the only property given the highest rating of Premier Cru
Supérieur. This rating gives an indication of the noble
status given to this property. It is the 'first' of all the
sweet wines of Bordeaux.
The vineyards are planted mostly to the Semillion
grape variety. The particular combination of this grape in the
Sauternes region, usually allows for the development of 'Noble
Rot' (Botrytis Cinera) on the berries as harvest approaches.
This mold does not ruin the grape but instead causes the loss
of much of the water content in the berry. The result is a raisin-like
berry with extreme concentration of the natural sugars and flavors.
The loss of the water in the grape means that the yeild of wine
is amazingly small. On average, only one glass of wine is produced
from each vine in the vineyards of d'Yquem. In order to harvest
only the grapes that have achieved the maximum concentration
levels, the harvest at Chateau d'Yquem can last for weeks and
involves several passes by up to 150 harvesters. The harvesters
pick individual berries rather than the normal process of harvesting
entire bunches. This method of harvesting is extremely expensive
and only the top chateaux in the region are able to afford it.
Chateau d'Yquem was established in December of 1593 when Jacques
de Sauvage exchanged other properties that he owned for the
'House of Yquem'. Sauvage acquired Yquem from the French monarchy.
during the reign of Louis XVI, Francoise Josephine de Sauvage
(the "Lady of Yquem") married Louis Amedee de Lur
Saluces. He was the godson of Louis XV and Lady Victoire de
France. Monsieur Lur Saluces died just 3 years later but his
wife focused her energies on improving and caring for the Chateau
and the surrounding estate. Her efforts established the real
basis for the estate that we know today. The size of Chateau
d'Yquem was the same in 1788 as it is today.
the efforts of successive generations of the Lur Saluces family,
the property gained in quality and prestige. It is a very remarkable
story considering that the estate managed to stay intact and
with such a tremendous reputation from the time of Louis XVI
to Napoleon III and through the French Revolution. Of particular
note were the efforts of Romain-Bertrand (grandson of the "Lady
of Yquem") and his grandson Bertrand. It was mostly through
their direction that Chateau d'Yquem became the commercial property
that it is today.
War I, the Chateau was used as a militrary hospital. Lists of
the soldiers treated there are available at d'Yquem today.
a bitter split in the Lur Saluces family in the late 1990's,
Chateau d'Yquem was purchased by a subsidiary of the LVMH group
(Louis Vitton - Moet - Hennesy). Count A. de Lur Saluces still
works with the property and maintains the levels of quality
that have set this estate above all others in the region.
The wines are intensly concentrated and sweet with high levels
of acidity to balance out the sweetness. While the wines are
delicious when young, the true nature of the wines of d'Yquem
are only shown when the wines have decades of bottle age. These
wines become complex, luscious and honeyed after 15 to 20 years
and can last for a century or longer if properly stored.
There are a wide variety of approaches to matching food
with this wine and much of the decision depends on the age of
the wine. A classic match is to serve d'Yquem with Fois Gras.
Other pairings would be to serve as a dessert along with dishes
that feature apricots, pears or peaches.