Chateau d’Yquem is often held up as the greatest white wine in the world
Chateau d’Yquem is often held up as the greatest white wine in the world and indeed it holds the record for the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold when an example from the 1811 vintage was sold for £75,000 in 2011. This certainly makes it the longest-lived white wine in the world too. But the recent release of the 2011 vintage highlights the fact that in comparison to the other great wines of the world Yquem is still relatively inexpensive. There were murmurings of discontent from some of the UK merchants when the wine was released recently for Euros 3,000 per case but it seems to me that it is obvious that LVMH (the ultimate owners of Yquem) are trying to position Yquem as an alternative to a First Growth. 2011 Lafite was released at £5,500 whilst Mouton released at £3,500 (the other 3 were in between).
In many ways Yquem is the First Growth of Sauternes ait sits in splendid isolation in its own classification. If you like it is in a Premier League all on its own so always wins but when it enters the Champions League it struggles ! This is no fault intrinsically of its own but I suspect it is a victim of fashion. The most expensive white wine in the world currently is Le Montrachet from Domaine Leflaive whose 2010 vintage sells (if you can get hold of it) for close to £60,000. This is a dry, white, exquisite Burgundy produced in minute quantities (only 675 bottles annually) that is highly sought after. Yquem produce 100 times that quantity. It is often served in half bottles and as a dessert wine served in smaller glasses usually towards the end of a meal. Personally I love sweet wines and always look for an excuse to serve them but in my experience sadly this is not reciprocated by enough friends or family. Too many people associate sweet wine with those horrible German confections of the 1980’s and these days most people’ palates have tended towards dry whites or reds with all food. The only country that seems to be bucking the trend is China where it is said that sophisticated women prefer Yquem to dry, acidic, bubbly champagne. No doubt LVMH are hoping that this trend continues throughout Asia and the other BRIC nations.