2003 Château d'Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux

2003 Château d'Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux

Product: 20038004787
Prices start from £2,567.00 per case Buying options
2003 Château d'Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux

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Available by the case In Bond. Pricing excludes duty and VAT, which must be paid separately before delivery. Storage charges apply.
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Description

Château d'Yquem reported 2003 as the hottest year since 1896, the previous hottest being the 1976, which provided a superb wine with excellent botrytis, which is now showing at its best. Château d'Yquem concludes their report: "This unusual vintage will no doubt remain a benchmark for many years to come. An extraordinary summer, "total" botrytis and the sacrifice of part of the estate made it possible to harvest grapes with optimum fruit and concentration thanks to unusually clean amortisation.

Berry Bros. & Rudd

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Critics reviews

Neal Martin, Vinous93/100

Tasted from an ex-château bottle in London.

The 2003 Yquem was a homogenous harvest picked over a single trie between 17 and 26 September. It has a rich and opulent nose, crème brûlée, marmalade, and a melted candle wax aroma. The palate has more to offer than the nose: fine acidity, less closed than the aromatics, and touches of orange rind and mandarin developing with time. This is very commendable, given that I do not consider it a great Sauternes vintage.

Drink 2022 - 2040

Neal Martin, Vinous.com (April 2022)

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Jancis Robinson MW20/20

Mid-amber. Vanilla cream, white chocolate, butter, and orange zest. Succulent and clean on the finish. Reverberant acidity. Simply stunning. Could this be bettered? It's hard to imagine how. 

Drink 2008 - 2053

Richard Hemming MW, JancisRobinson.com (February 2020)

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Wine Advocate96/100

Alcohol is 13.5% this year, while the residual sugar is a whopping 147 grams per litre, nicely balanced by a total acidity of 4.2 grams per litre H2SO4.

The average June 2003 temperature at Yquem was the warmest ever recorded since they installed their first weather station in 1896, and things were only starting to heat up. This notoriously hot vintage produced some delightful Bordeaux surprises, Yquem being one of them. As readers can guess, obtaining the necessary sugar levels was not the problem this year. If it was a question of sugar alone, berries could have been harvested in August. But come September, the wait was on for the botrytis.

Fortunately, a little rain beginning on the 5th of September kick-started proceedings, and with the help of continued warm temperatures, the noble rot took off like a rocket! After this, frenetic harvesting and strict selection ensued. Harvest was over in a record nine days, resulting in a super rich, concentrated and fully botrytized expression that beautifully does justice to the vintage and Yquem.

Medium lemon-gold coloured, the 2003 d'Yquem seems to be emerging from a slumber, awakening with gloriously expressive notes of ginger ale, pineapple upside-down cake, toasted hazelnuts, star anise, cinnamon stick and preserved mandarin peel, plus hints of lemon butter, crushed rocks, musk perfume and chalk dust. Full-bodied, super concentrated and decadently unctuous, the palate exudes waves of preserved tropical fruits and citrus sparks charged with energetic freshness, finishing epically long and wonderfully spicy.

Drink 2019 - 2049

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (August 2019)

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James Suckling98/100

A massive Yquem, this has a dense palate that is almost chewy like a red. It is full and very sweet, with notes of dried apricot, pineapple, and papaya on the palate. It is long, with a vanilla-coconut tart finish. What a wine—voluptuous, sexy, and luscious. 147 grams of RS.

Pull the cork after 2015

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (April 2012)

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About this WINE

Château d’Yquem

Château d’Yquem

Château d’Yquem is the leading estate in the Sauternes appellation on the Left Bank of Bordeaux. It has long been reputed for making one of the world’s great sweet wines. In the 1855 classification of Bordeaux wines, Yquem was given the lofty title of Premier Cru Supérieur – the sole property at that level. It sits comfortably among the First Growths of the Médoc and their equivalents on the Right Bank regarding its quality and prestige among wine collectors.

The estate has a noble history dating back to the 1590s. By 1711, it was owned by the Sauvage family, French aristocrats whose descendants would remain at the helm for almost three centuries. Yquem is now part of the Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy (LVMH) group, owned by Bernard Arnault, one of France’s wealthiest people.

Yquem is located in the heart of Sauternes, at the commune’s highest point and surrounded by many of the appellation’s other leading estates. The vineyard is planted to a majority of Sémillon, supported by Sauvignon Blanc. There are 113 hectares of vines, though only 100 hectares are used in any one vintage.

To make a bottle of Yquem depends on developing botrytis cinerea, the so-called “noble rot”, in the vineyard. Harvest involves up to 200 workers, passing through the vineyard up to 10 times to pick only those berries that have been infected with noble rot. This doesn’t happen uniformly, and it doesn’t happen every year. In some years, no Yquem is produced at all – as in 1964 or, most recently, 2012. Of this approach, President Pierre Lurton says: “It’s important to take a lot of risk. If you don’t take a risk, you don’t make Yquem.”

Today, Yquem is led by Pierre Lurton, its longtime President, along with Estate Manager Lorenzo Pasquini. The Cellar Master is Toni El Khawand, following the departure of Sandrine Garbay in 2022.

In addition to the sweet Sauternes produced here, there is also a dry white wine, Y (pronounced “ee-greck”).

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Sauternes

Sauternes

Sauternes is where arguably the world's finest sweet white wines are produced. The Sauternes appellation actually consists of five communes: Barsac, Preignac, Bommes, Fargues and Sauternes itself. Barsac is also an appellation in its own right.

Sauternes literally has an atmosphere different from any of the other major communes. At the southern tip of the Graves,close to the Garonne, not only is the land hillier and decidedly more bucolic but it also enjoys a specific mesoclimate of evening autumn mists which linger until well into the following day, unless burnt off by warm sunshine.

The mists are caused by the cool, spring-fed waters of the Ciron River meeting the warmer tidal Garonne, and the result is an ideal environment for the growth of the mould botrytis cinerea. When its arrival is felicitous, it feeds on the water in the ripe grapes, dehydrating them and leaving sweet, shriveled fruit.

Other regions in Bordeaux (ie Cadillac, Loupiac) produce wines in a similar style from the same method, but none achieve the profundity and complexity of Sauternes.

Recommended Châteaux : Ch. D'Yquem, Ch. Climens (Barsac), Ch. Suduiraut, Ch. Rieussec,  Sigalas- Rabaud, Ch. Coutet (Barsac), Ch. de Fargues, Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Ch. Doisy-Védrines (Barsac), Chateau Partarrieu, La Tour Blanche

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Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon

Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon

The blend used for White Graves and Sauternes and rarely encountered outside France. In the great dry whites of Graves, Sauvignon Blanc tends to predominate in the blend, although properties such as Smith Haut Lafite use 100% Sauvignon Blanc while others such as Laville Haut Brion have as much as 60% Sémillon in their final blends. Sauvignon Blanc wines can lose their freshness and fruit after a couple of years in bottle - if blended with Sémillon, then the latter bolsters the wine when the initial fruit from the Sauvignon fades. Ultimately Sauvignon Blanc gives the wine its aroma and raciness while Sémillon gives it backbone and longevity.

In Sauternes, Sémillon is dominant, with Sauvignon Blanc playing a supporting role - it is generally harvested about 10 days before Sémillon and the botrytis concentrates its sweetness and dampens Sauvignon Blanc`s naturally pungent aroma. It contributes acidity, zip and freshness to Sauternes and is an important component of the blend.

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