Château d’Yquem’s 2018 vintage down by 40%

The 2018 vintage from Château d’Yquem in Sauternes will see fewer wines out in the market upon release, as the estate reports a 40% drop in production compared to an average vintage.

The 2016 vintage of d’Yquem was released in Hong Kong

The drop was revealed by the estate’s marketing director Jean-Philippe Lemoine in Hong Kong, and was largely the result of a devastating hailstorm in July that struck the south-western part of Sauternes.

Additionally, coulure during flowering in April, and mildew from May to July, also affected the crop, he explained.

The ensuing harvest that started in late September to mid-November, turned out to be the longest on record, lasting a total of 78 days, he revealed, as noble rot or botrytis did not kick in until late in September following a long and dry growing season.

Despite the smaller volume, Lemoine insisted that the 2018 vintage produced “a very beautiful crop”, whose growing conditions harked back to the recent 2016 vintage, which also saw a hot and dry summer.

The 2016 vintage, just released by the Sauternes estate in Hong Kong with local importer Wine’s Link, was praised by the director as a “great vintage” despite the late arrival of botrytis.

“The 2016 is a great vintage for Yquem but it was a little complicated because after a hot and very very dry summer (perfect for the red wine) [there was] no rain until mid-September. The botrytisation of the grapes was slow because the temperatures fell early in October. With this slow botrytisation we have aromas that are not usually so intense, such as mango, passion fruit and flowers,” he explains.

The golden liquid from the estate, the largest and most known Sauternes estate around the world, boasts unusual longevity that’s been said to be immortal by Jancis Robinson MW, advising many to cellar the wine for decades before opening it.

Jean-Philippe Lemoine (third from left) was in Hong Kong to unveil the 2016 vintage of Yquem with local importer Wine’s Link

The export director, however, urged that the wine can be drunk young, dispelling one of the misconceptions of the famous Sauternes.

“Very young wines are sublime, with aromas of fresh, crunchy, juicy fruit such as mango, pineapple, apricot, grapefruit, passion fruit. With age the wines are different with aromas of dry fruits such as cinnamon, vanilla but also with the perception of acid more intense than sweetness; therefore completely different tasting experiences,” he said.

“Do not be afraid to open a bottle of Yquem, because if you do not finish, there’s no problem to keep it in your fridge with a cork for 10 days. The wine will be perfect,” he adds.

Another misconception with Sauternes in Asia, as in the rest of the world, Lemoine says, is its preconceived pairing choice of foie gras or dessert, which limits its versatility.

“Yquem is possible to pair with ALL type of foods,” he said. “You cannot be disappointed with Yquem.”

Asia currently accounts for 35% of Yquem’s global distribution, with key markets in Hong-Kong, mainland China, South Korea, Japan and Singapore.

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