Two from Château d’Yquem, 2019
I was disappointed to learn earlier this year that Château d’Yquem would no longer be showing a sample of the most recent vintage during the primeur tastings, although I should perhaps not have been surprised. Château d’Yquem has long had an arms-length relationship with the primeurs, and it was only when LVMH became majority shareholders back in 1999 that the estate really began to engage with the en primeur circus, the newly installed manager Pierre Lurton putting on tastings of the proposed blend from the latest vintage. Suddenly a visit to Château d’Yquem was an essential date in anybody’s en primeur diary, giving visitors to Bordeaux a glimpse of what the region’s only premier cru supérieur had achieved.
A visitor to Bordeaux during the primeurs could taste Château d’Yquem at various locations, not least the property itself of course, but also at Château Cheval Blanc in St Emilion, another estate run by Pierre on behalf of LVMH. The connection between the primeur tastings and the sale of the wine itself has been faltering for some time though. The release of the 2011 was delayed until September 2013, Pierre Lurton having been concerned (perhaps rightly) that the lukewarm reception given to the red wines in that vintage might negatively impact upon the price he could achieve for the very fine Sauternes. In 2012 they made no wine, another controversial decision, while the 2013 was again held back, its release not announced until October 2015. And so the die was cast; if you fancy a case or two of Château d’Yquem, keep an eye on your inbox during September and October two years after the vintage; that’s when the offers will begin appearing.
Despite this delay in releasing their wine, Pierre Lurton and winemaker Sandrine Garbay continued to show a proposed blend during the primeurs, and I continued to visit. It was beneficial to do so because a taste of their wine and a chat with Sandrine provided valuable data on the vintage, so while it is understandable that the team will no longer show a sample, it is disappointing. Could it be to their disadvantage though? Assuming the team keep to their current release schedule, when the 2018 vintage is released in autumn 2020, who will have tasted it, and whose opinions will consumers turn to? I suspect Pierre Lurton is banking that loyal customers will buy the wine without the notes and scores they might usually look for. He may well be right.Please log in to continue reading: