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Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes 2011
A lovely, creamy, tropical style, with mango, papaya and guava notes lending a caressing feel, while singed almond and warm piecrust accents blossom through the lush finish. Just when you think that's all there is, toasted coconut, fig, orange blossom and persimmon details kick in, lending length and dimension. The finish is ridiculously long. Best from 2020 through 2060.
Luminous golden yellow. Cool, pure aromas of white peach, honeyed mango, guava nectar, white flowers and saffron are complicated by elements of crushed stone and spicy lemony botrytis. Suave and intensely flavored, with mineral-spiced apple, mango, passion fruit and grapefruit flavors offering outstanding purity, precision, and depth. The brisk but harmonious acidity gives this great Sauternes a penetrating quality and provides a powerful spine to the very deep flavors, making it seem less opulent than it really is. This Yquem has the depth of the 2007 but boasts even greater purity and focus. Finishes bright and extremely long, with repeating suggestions of white flowers and lemony botrytis. Though it lacks the depth of the 2001 or the opulence of the 2009 at a similar stage of development, this is one of my favorite young Yquems ever: it will age spectacularly well.
Crazy minerality to this, with lots of dried mango, pineapple and papaya on the nose. Botrytis-spice and nutmeg undertones. Full body, very sweet, with superb depth of fruit and richness. It goes on for minutes. Turns dense and concentrated on the palate. Speechless. Better in 2019.
Rich, with intense flavors of botrytis, lemon and Seville orange peel. This wine has both freshness and sweetness, with a light touch.
Barrel Sample: 95-97
Tasted blind at the Sauternes 2011 horizontal tasting. The Château Yquem 2011 has a complex bouquet, one that is very well defined with hints of petrol infusing the rich honeyed fruit, later melted wax and fresh peach coming through. The palate is well balanced with a strong viscous entry. There is plenty of residual sugar here and I would have preferred a little more acidic bite to offset that rich, decadent finish (this is despite their correct policy of blending non-botrytized berries in order to increase acidity.) Powerful, burly even, I would give this several years in the cellar to allow this Yquem to mellow and enter its stride.
Count Alexandre de Lur Saluces has followed in his Uncle Betrand's footsteps since 1968. Highly motivated to perfect this prestigious product while respecting tradition, he is determined to offer maximum quality. All those who love this inimitable wine, from Jefferson to Pamela Harriman, former U.S. Ambassador, by way of great Duke Constantine, have approved this philosophy from vintage to vintage.
Yquem is the result of painstaking efforts by everyone who works on the estate. However, nature is the major factor in making the most of the rare soil of Yquem.
An underappreciated wine-producing country currently undergoing a renaissance...
An underappreciated wine-producing country currently undergoing a renaissance, South Africa has a surprisingly long and rich history considering its status as part of the “New World” of wine. In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century. Today, however, it is increasingly responsible for high-quality wines that are helping to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot, but the Benguela current from Antarctica provides the brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening. Similarly, cooler high-elevation vineyard sites offer climatic diversity.
South Africa’s wine regions are divided into region, then smaller districts, and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for earthy, gamey reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following behind.
Responsible for some of the world’s highest quality white wines...
Responsible for some of the world’s highest quality white wines, Chenin Blanc doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. Unquestionably at its best in its birthplace of the Loire Valley, Chenin Blanc can do it all—from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still or sparkling. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Chenin Blanc is also widely planted in South Africa, where it is occasionally labeled as “Steen,” and to a lesser extent in California.
In the Glass
Chenin Blanc ranges from austere to richly sweet, with aromas of McIntosh apple, honey, beeswax, jasmine, hay, and quince. When grown in warmer regions, Chenin Blanc develops richer, tropical-fruit flavors, such as pineapple and melon, as well as ripe stone fruit. Often these wines carry some residual sugar.
Cool-climate Chenin Blanc has the structure, austerity, and chalky acidity to work with antipasti or unadorned seafood, such as oysters and shellfish. Off-dry styles work well with the sweet-and-sour nature of Thai and Vietnamese food.
There are several appellations throughout the Loire Valley devoted to producing different styles of Chenin Blanc. Vouvray, Saumur, Anjou, and Savennieres are known for excellent dry and off-dry wines; Vouvray, along with Montlouis, Bonnezeaux, and Quarts de Chaume, produces glorious late-picked sweet wines whose high sugar levels are offset by Chenin Blanc’s hallmark acidity. Sparkling Crèmant de Loire, Saumur, and Vouvray provide delightfully affordable and flavorful alternatives to Champagne.