Yquem has been in a class of its own since the 18th century and was put on a pedestal in the 1855 classification as the only premier cru supérieur in Sauternes. It is undisputedly the finest dessert wine in France; some will say the world.
The property dates back to the 15th century, and was even owned by the King of England during the Middle Ages, but perhaps the most significant owners in its long history have been the Lur Saluces family, who acquired the estate in the 18th century.
It passed through various generations, most recently Alexandre de Lur Saluces, who ran Yquem for 35 years from 1968, although by this point the family were no longer majority shareholders. Since 1999, the property has been owned by the luxury goods group LVMH (Louise Vuitton Moët Hennessy), and they spare no effort to see that it maintains its reputation.
In 2004 they appointed Pierre Lurton, of the famous Lurton family of winemakers, as director of the château. He has been at the helm ever since, using his family's knowhow to ensure Yquem exhibits vitality as well as great depth and precision which was always a characteristic of the great long-living vintages of the past.
The situation on a marvellous well-drained hill is partly the reason for its fame, but infinite care in the 113 hectares of different vineyard plots make the most of this: in accordance with practices established at Yquem in the 19th century, every vintage the pickers go over each plot up to six times, ensuring they only pick each grape at the optimum moment. Each vine produces only one glass of wine.
The blend is an 80/20 split between semillon and sauvignon respectively, and once fermentation is complete, the wine ages for 30 months in 100% new oak.This château's iconic reputation has been fully merited in nearly every vintage of the last century, and each vintage can easily age for between 5 and 50 years, in many cases far longer.
In certain years, and only when conditions are right, Yquem also produces a superb dry white called 'Y'. A 50/50 blend of semillon and sauvignon, it is aged on its lees for at least a year in barrels, of which a third are new. Y is a wine of magnificent balance and is a remarkable illustration of the potential of Yquem's grapes even before they have been affected by noble rot.