Nick’s Wine Of The Week — d’Yquem’s Other White

Chateau d’Yquem is widely regarded as the greatest desert wine in the world, but what is often obscured by the veneration surrounding it is that the property, 40 kilometers south of Bordeaux, also makes a superb dry white wine, “Y”, pronounced Ygrec, that rivals the best produced by its neighbors in Pessac-Leognan.

I recently tasted the 2011, 2010 and 2009 with Pierre Lurton, President of d’Yquem and Sandrine Garbay, Maitre de Chai, during a lunch at 11 Madison Park to promote the sale of some of their wines at Sotheby’s, New York.

The 2011, still in barrels at the chateau was, not surprisingly, unformed. The two constituent varietals, Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, had not come together, and were bumping around in the glass like a couple of unruly adolescents.

However Garbay believes the wine has great potential, telling me that “the 2011 sémillon needs time to develop but I am sure in the next years sémillon will appear. With the acidity of this vintage the aging of this Y will be great, I am sure.”

Her take on the 2010 was that it’s a very classic vintage. I found it more developed than the 2011 but still a very long way from being a finished work.

Sandrine Garbay

The 2009 Y on the other hand, this week’s Five Star Nick’s Wine Of The Week, $190, was a luscious beauty. 2009 was a hot summer all over France, everyone made ripe, plush wines. The trick was to preserve freshness, and this Garbay has achieved. In addition, the wine is already showing hints of the beguiling complexity Y is known for.

“So the 2009 was a great vintage in Bordeaux with perfect conditions during the spring, during the summer, during the autumn. We had perfect ripeness of the grapes, and perfect conditions to pick the grapes.

“The 2009 has a lot of richness but at the same time we have elegance. It’s a great wine to have at the table, to have it with food.”

Indeed. As Sandrine observes, it made a brilliant pairing with 11 Madison Park’s black bass with black truffle and celery, the rich elegance of the wine perfectly complementing the rich delicacy of the fish and truffles.


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NWOW Rating:
A five star wine!
When to Drink: Now and for the next 10 years.
Breathing/Decanting: A few minutes breathing helps.
Food Pairing: White fish, meatier fish like swordfish or tuna,
Grapes: 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillon
Appellation: Bordeaux
Region: Bordeaux
Country: France
Price: $190
Availability: Very limited
Web Site:
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