Château d'Yquem, A Mystery?
"More than four centuries of history are summed up in the words "Château d'Yquem Lur-Saluces" found on every bottle of Yquem. Wine lovers from around the world who come to visit the estate often ask about the secret of this great wine. My initial, slightly provocative reply is that there can be no answer, that the truth is shrouded in mystery, and that we are dealing with one of nature's enigmas. However, there are several logical explanations to offer. One of them is undoubtedly the winemaking passion shares by the family who owned the Château for twelve generations. Another is the unique terroir and carefully matched premium grape varieties.
Furthermore, Château d'Yquem's time-honoured vineyard management and winemaking practices have and important role to play. Last, but not least, there is the amazing alchemy brought about by Botrytis Cinerea the remarkable fungus that, here in Sauterned - and here alone - paradoxically transforms decay into gold. Above and beyond these reasons, Château d'Yquem must actually be smelled, tasted, and appreciated to understand its magic. In doing so, one realises that this wine is - and will always remain - a mystery.
Perhaps this is the best way of summing up the spirit of d'Yquem..." Count Alexandre de Lur Saluces (November 2002)
The Unique Terroir and Vineyard
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 water-logging (100km 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 Sauterne region's soil types.
This extraordinary variety of soils is a key factor in the quality and complexity of Château d'Yquem.
Château d'Yquem has 113 hectares of vines, of which only one hundred produce grapes in a given vintage. There are just two grape varieties: Semillon (80%), which produces a rich sappy wine with body and structure, and Sauvignon Blanc (20%), an early-ripening but less reliable producer, which contributes aromas and finesse.
The vines are tended with the greatest of care. Workers perpetuate a tradition of painstaking work under the watchful eye of the vineyard manager.