This week go behind the trace of the jewel of the Bordeaux vineyards: the ChateauYquem.
I had the chance to get to know Sandrine GARBAY, the master of the liquid jewelry of Sauternes.
Before introducing you to this passion of Sauternes, let me tell you a little history of the Château d’Yquem.
The oldest part of the Castle was built in the 15th century and the building was enlarged in the 16th and 17th century. More recently, in 1987 an underground cellar was built.
The first traces of a vineyard planted on the lands of Yquem, date back to the 11th century. At the time the wine that was produced (in small scale) was a sweet white wine with the appellation of “wine from Langon.”
Hard to imagine today, but originally this jewelry from Bordeaux was simply a fortified manor farm, with the main function of agriculture and animal husbandry.
It was not until the mid 16th century when it became an actual winery.
Initially the area was owned by the family of the Dukes of Aquitaine, who ceded it during the 16th century to the crown of France. The monarch of the time entrusted the management of the domain to the family of Sauvage, a Lord that was already established in the area.
In 1711, the royal treasury, then undermined by costly wars of Louis XIV, agreed the sale of the Chateau d’Yquem to the family of Sauvage.
Only three generations later the property passed to the Lur Saluces through marriage in 1785 by Françoise Josephine de Sauvage d’Yquem to the Count Louis-Amédée de Lur Saluces.
The property will remain in the heritage of the family of Lur Saluces until 1999, when Louis Vuitton (LVMH) became the largest shareholder of Castle (the remaining shares still owned by the family).
In 2004, the management of the property was transferred from Alexandre de Lur Saluces to Pierre Lurton.
Regarding Sandrine Garbay, she returned to Chateau d’Yquem in 1994 as the winemaker responsible for quality.
Although her parents, as a good people from Bordeaux who respect their tradition, are great lovers of wine, his passion for the world of Vine and Wine came relatively late. It was only after school when she decided to start studying biology / chemistry. Wanting to apply her knowledge to a product that is created in harmony with nature is how she arrived in the wine field.
How does she see her profession?
As an interesting job, plenty of choice (must be versatile, knowing all the processing steps of the fruit wine) and very challenging (by creating a unique product every year)
What is looked for this product every year?
A harmonious wine on the palate, very elegant. A Sauternes that is distinguished by its texture, its volume but also for the fullness in the mouth.
Which is the criteria for an Yquem wine?
First and foremost a wine of unparalleled purity, perfect structure on the palate and good minerality.
It extends over 180 hectares of which 113ha in Sauternes but 105ha in production
Two wines: Chateau Yquem (Sauternes, 1er Grand Cru Classé Supérieur) composed of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon, “Y“ (Bordeaux Blanc) assembled with 2/3 with Sauvignon and 1/3 Semillon
Soil: plots generally consist largely of clay, a few are gravelly clay (very qualitative)
Ageing: 2 years in new barrels for Sauternes, 10 months of barrel a year (previously used for Sauternes) for Bordeaux Blanc
Side project, renovation of all the property, but “closer in time” are the renovation projects of the winery, the reception hall of the harvest and the fermentation cellar forthe first year.
For doesn’t fail to tradition, a little story on the Chateau Yquem:
Some years ago a Spanish restaurant and request a phone talk with cellar master: “Hello, here we got your contact through a friend. We have many old vintages in our cellars, one bottle 1804 vintage that we have inadvertently chipped at the neck, what can we do? “
The answer was simple, “Come tothe property and see what we can do.“
The next day the restaurant owner, his butler and another employee arrived at the property. The bottle was gouttée (discussed after ), the nectar being authenticated container (bottle) was changed by the same bottle and recapped.
Well I guess just like me when I told this story, one question came to your mind:
“BUT WINE THAT IS THAT OLD, IS IT STILL DRINKABLE? “
Answer: Deep brown / caramel (color amber rum). On the palate it develops aromas of plum, roasted coffee. A well-balanced wine, focused and always very fresh …. J Even after 208 years this wine is a delight for the tastebuds.
Now going for the tasting …. :
Chateau Yquem 1997 – 1er Grand Cru classé Supérieur de Sauternes:
Pretty amber color. A complex nose with aromas of apricot, spice, fig, and menthol. On the palate it reveals a very silky texture, combined with aromas of apricot, figs …. all this is enhanced by a fine acidity and medium finish. A “favorite wine“
Chateau Yquem 2011 – 1er Grand Cru classé Supérieur de Sauternes:
The first nose is very fruity, with notes of grapefruit, apricot, peach or lemon. Great freshness brought by floral notes (lily). In the mouth this nectar expresses a well rounded, and aromas of rhubarb, peach, plum, orange marmalade or apricot, mango and sweet pineapple. A “favorite wine“
Nose with notes of pink grapefruit, lemon. On the palate this wine is incredibly lightweight, smooth, round. It expresses sweet notes of passion fruit, and pineapple. It is a wine that perfectly reflects the state of Semillon picked up in light of maturity. A “favorite wine“