Château d'Yquem 1999
A year of capricious weather, with alternating hot and cold, including frost in April that did no great harm, but reduced the potential crop. A cold, dry period arrived in September, causing slow ripening in Sémillon conducive to great aromatic purity. The end result is a subtle combination of richness and a rare vivaciousness.
The impression that remains is reminiscent of a quote from Frédéric Dard "the silence that follows a piece by Mozart, in which the listener remains suffused with the music". This reflects the fact that Château d'Yquem stays on the palate for a remarkable long time, providing a unique, prolonged pleasure. There is a lovely expression in French to describe Yquem's tremendously long aftertaste: il fait la queue du paon, which means that it spreads out like a peacock's tail.
It is always difficult to describe wine-tasting experiences with any precision. The senses of sight, smell, taste and touch are all stimulated virtually at the same time. While gifted tasters can identify some of the aromas and flavours in a glass of Yquem in an effort to define its complexity, they never really succeed in communicating its essence or explaining its mystery. Mere analysis, whether chemical or organoleptic, is not sufficient to account for Yquem's greatness. Yquem tells a unique story... It starts with the bouquet. Although not always very outgoing in young vintages, it is marked by fruit (apricot, mandarin, and occasionally tropical fruit) and oak (vanilla and toasty aromas). Older vintages, on the other hand, have an extraordinarily complex fragrance as soon as the bottle is opened, with hints of dried fruit (dried apricot, prune, stewed fruit, and marmalade), spice (cinnamon, saffron, and liquorice), and even flowers (lime blossom, etc.). The first impression of Château d'Yquem on the palate is always very silky, and often sumptuous. It then fills out, "coating the palate". This fine wine has a strong, but never overbearing character, with great elegance and poise. It always maintains a balance between sugar and acidity (sweetness and freshness). A touch of bitterness can also contribute to the overall harmony. Château d'Yquem's aftertaste is legendary, and it tells another story, which lasts and lasts
Certain connoisseurs consider it outrageous to drink a young Yquem and believe that opening such a monumental wine before its thirtieth birthday is tantamount to a sacrilege. Others, on the contrary, think that Yquem can be enjoyed at all stages in its life.
Château d'Yquem's microclimate is in the heart of a 20 km strip of land along both sides of the Garonne Valley where all of Bordeaux's sweet and semi-sweet white wine appellations (Sainte Croix du Mont, Loupiac, Cérons, Cadillac, and Barsac) are located.
The fact that all of Sauternes' great growths (eleven first growths and twelve seconds) are located around Château d'Yquem the only Premier Cru Supérieur tends to bear out Yquem's ideal location. The magic phenomenon of botrytisation is nevertheless fragile and subject to numerous meteorological factors. If the weather is too dry, noble rot is stymied. And if it rains too much, the grapes stop becoming concentrated. Furthermore, other types of fungus are waiting in the wings to take advantage of botrytis' weaknesses to take its place and ruin the grapes irredeemably... Accepting such risks inevitably leads to very low yields at Yquem and sometimes even calls for abandoning the entire crop.