Owners LVMH took the decision to delay the release of the 2019 Yquem until spring 2022. It was tasted with winemaker Sandrine Garbay in London. After the summer drought when Sauternes received just 2.5mm of rain until 26 July, that day saw a 112mm deluge that replenished underground reserves and gave ripening the push it needed. Dry and warm conditions prevailed throughout September when there was no sign of botrytis infection. That was finally provoked by 38mm of rain between 21 and 25 of September, followed by warm clement weather. After minor picking of Sauvignon Blanc on 7 of October, the main harvest began in earnest on 10 October. Pickers worked over the following five days, including Sunday. Time was of the essence because, as forecasts predicted, the weather suddenly changed on 14 of October with 40mm or rain. After that, the picking teams skirted between showers between 17 and 22 of October, though by now the fruit had begun to deteriorate. Therefore, the key aspect of this Yquem is the extremely tight picking window. The final blend contains 138g/L residual sugar, which is slightly less than the previous vintage, with 5.5g/L total acidity and 14.4% alcohol. Tasting the 2019, I noticed that it has a slightly paler hue compared to recent vintages (though I never read too much into the colour of young Sauternes.) For certain, it has a highly-aromatic bouquet that is beguiling in purity, enticing aromas of honeysuckle and saffron, soon joined by camomile, white flowers and orange blossom. It has wonderful delineation and gains intensity with aeration. The palate is supremely well-balanced with fine bead of acidity. Very harmonious and armed with just the right amount of viscosity, this Yquem is surprisingly understated at first but gains presence, offering irresistible flavours of layers of honey, lemongrass, lemon thyme and orange pith. Yquem is so tempting in its youth, but I feel that this vintage will repay those with the nous to cellar for at least a decade.
Neal Martin, Vinous (February 2022)Score: 98/100Drink 2032-2080
The 2019 vintage of Château d'Yquem has the highest proportion (45%) of Sauvignon Blanc in any modern Yquem. The Sauvignon Blanc adds to the freshness, acting as a great balance to the succulent, sweet and voluptuous palate. Intense peach and apricot, combined with lemon and orange zest, make this highly appealing to drink right away – an ideal vintage with which to start Yquem’s ‘lighthouse’ project. However, it would be a shame not to give this 10+ years maturation to see how it develops. Very well, I suspect. The growing season was both warm and wet, with mildew a big threat. After a mostly dry September, 40mm rain came at the end of the month, leading to a very short harvest window. All of the Yquem grapes were picked in two tries within a one-week period. Residual Sugar: 138g/L.
Andy Howard MW, Decanter (February 2022)Score: 97/100Drink 2025-2060
Pale lemon-gold in color, the 2019 Château d’Yquem springs forth with confident, alluring scents of lime blossoms, mandarin peel, and candied lemon slices over a core of fresh pineapple, white peaches, and crushed stones, plus a hint of shaved ginger. The palate absolutely pops with vibrant citrus flavors accented by tropical fruits and peachy nuances, supported by an achingly velvety texture and seamless freshness, finishing with long-lasting mineral and floral fireworks. An irresistible fat-cheeked baby with that Mona Lisa smile at the moment, give it 6-8 years in the cellar to begin to reveal its opulent personality, and then drink it over the next 30-35 years+. The blend is 55% Semillon and 45% Sauvignon Blanc with 138 g/L of residual sugar and a pH of 3.9. The alcohol weighs in at 14.4.
Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Independent (February 2022)Score: 97+/100Drink 2028-2060
Yields were low in 2019, down by just over 30% – making this exceptional wine all the rarer. A wet spring made for a difficult start to the season, but the summer was long and dry, with rain – and therefore botrytis – slow to arrive in the autumn. The team had to hold out until 7th October, harvesting everything in one week before rain arrived. The blend is 55% Semillon and 45% Sauvignon Blanc – a record-high percentage at the estate, making for a particularly aromatic and instantly appealing Yquem. Every swirl of the glass reveals a new layer of complexity – with notes of mango, citrus pith, tinned apricots, fresh hay, lychee, lemon meringue pie, acacia honey and chamomile shifting in and out of focus. Beneath the richness of fruit, there’s a mineral precision holding things together. The palate is laden with apricot compote drizzled with honey, with a marmalade lift, a pithy freshness and demerara sweetness. It’s viscous and weighty, with 138g/l residual sugar, but the vibrant, lime-edged piercing acidity makes it feel light and moreish. A wine that will age effortlessly for 40 years and more.
FINE+RARE (February 2022)