When I was a kid we used to hear “Y because we love you” on black and white television, unless you were among the very fortunate to have a color television set at home. I just had a chance to taste, drink and take home a bottle of a wine that almost sounds like it is from another children’s television show, the first was The Magical World of Disney and the title of this article sounds like it should be from Sesame Street. I was with my Bride and we stopped by our wine shop for what I thought was a short visit and we ended up with a private tasting of a still rather unknown white wine that carries the Appellation Bordeaux Controlee, which would not be all that remarkable, except that this wine is Chateau d’Yquem “Y” Ygrec Bordeaux 2017 and not Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes that was famous and still has representation in the wine cellar of Thomas Jefferson.
Chateau d’Yquem is by far the most famous dessert wine in the world and has definitely made the Sauternes district of Bordeaux prime real estate. In the Classification of 1855 of the Medoc, it was the only estate to be rated as Premier Cru Supereiur and it still is, and while most say it will be great for a good fifty years, there are others that feel that it is the longest-lived wine and may be eternal. The Yquem estate was owned by the King of England in the Middle Ages and has been producing late-harvest wines since at least the late 1500’s. It is a two-hundred-ninety-acre vineyard situated on the highest hill in Sauternes. Possibly the ideal setting to produce sweet wine; a warm, dry topsoil of pebbles and course gravel over a subsoil of clay that retains water reserves which aids the development of “noble rot” and the property has about sixty miles of drains to prevent waterlogging. There is also normally about thirty acres of vineyard that is either fallow or with vines to young for the production of this noble wine. The vineyard is seventy-five percent Semillon and the balance is Sauvignon Blanc. There is a fine art to the winemaker’s craft and nothing is overlooked, including the almost continual hand harvesting of only the perfect grapes at each inspection to ensure that only fully botrytized fruit is selected or about one glass of wine per vine. There have been nine vintages that were never produced in the last century, because the wine did not meet the specifications required. The estate was under the Lur-Saluces family from 1785 to 1999 when it was sold to the luxury brand LVMH.
Y or Ygrec is a rather rare wine for the estate as they produce about ten-thousand bottles each year. It was originally made at the end of the harvest with the last bunches of grapes since 1959 and in 1966 the selection of the grapes changed and the wine is basically Sauvignon Blanc picked at the beginning of the harvest and a small amount of Semillon with Botrytis and in 2004 the brand was to be produced every vintage. They now have a state-of-the-art vat room just to make this wine and the aging on the lees take place in the barrels, one-third of which are new and the lees are regularly stirred for ten months. I thought I enjoyed White Bordeaux, but this was on a level, that I had never encountered before, it was so elegant with such finesse that I could barely contain myself, it was that awesome, almost ethereal in the finish. This is a white wine that is considered by many to cellar for twenty years. If I thought it was wonderful, the look on my Bride’s face and in her eyes was scary as I started computing how expensive this wine would be, if she decided that this was her go-to wine and even though it is shipped in its own fancy wooden six-pack enclosed by cardboard for shipping, I was afraid that I would have to quit my retirement. Oh, by the way, if you are curious the “Y” is pronounced “ee-grek” in French.