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Robin Garr

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No Yquem in 2012 ... Twenty Year Curse?

by Robin Garr » Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:15 pm

From Marvin Shanken's industry blog:

Chateau d’Yquem Won’t Produce 2012 Vintage

Storied Sauternes producer Chateau d’Yquem is canceling its 2012 vintage after heavy rains during harvest resulted in low quantity and lackluster concentration across its crop, reports AFP, quoting d’Yquem CEO Pierre Lurton. Chateau d’Yquem typically produces around 100,000 bottles worth $33 million in sales.

Lurton said the decision not to produce this year has the blessing of Bernard Arnault, head of majority brand owner LVMH. The move has precedents in 1952, 1972 and 1992, leading Lurton to joke that d’Yquem appears to be cursed every 20th vintage. Chaotic weather conditions led to a short harvest across much of Europe this year, with the Bordeaux region, of which Sauternes is a part, seeing an especially difficult vintage.
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Paul Winalski

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Re: No Yquem in 2012 ... Twenty Year Curse?

by Paul Winalski » Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:32 pm

So I guess we won't have a "vintage of the century" in Bordeaux this year. When was the last time that happened? :twisted:

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Re: No Yquem in 2012 ... Twenty Year Curse?

by Hoke » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:36 pm

I had the great fortune to get a private tour of d'Yquem from M. Lurton last November (post harvest).

Their total and absolute unyielding devotion to the highest quality procedures to make the best possible wine was impressive. The final tell was when we entered the cellar, a massive and spickety-span place much larger than the stores of wine inside. (It goes far beyond any PR or flackery or posing.)

You could clearly see the relative size of each harvest for the last three years, depending on each year's conditions and yield, some tiny, some larger, none huge. Their exacting standards are simply so stringent that they don't get that much in their finest product.

I can also see why they didn't declare this year---Lurton is very conscious of keeping the brand standards impeccable so they can retain and maintain their reputation. When you have a product that requires "just so" conditions in a place like Sauternes that is at best highly variable, it's surprising that they don't fail to declare even more vintages for similar reasons.
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Sam Platt

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Re: No Yquem in 2012 ... Twenty Year Curse?

by Sam Platt » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:20 am

Hoke,

What will Yquem do with their grapes/crush? Down the drain or sold to another producer or negotiant?
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Re: No Yquem in 2012 ... Twenty Year Curse?

by Hoke » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:47 am

Sam Platt wrote:Hoke,

What will Yquem do with their grapes/crush? Down the drain or sold to another producer or negotiant?


Primarily sell the juice/wine away, Sam.

They do green harvesting during the vintage and leave that on the ground. The grapes are individually harvested by long-term pickers who pick only their own blocks, and go through as often as it takes to pick the grapes at prime.

They make a dry wine, although in very small lots, but most of the wine will be sold. The Lurton family business is extensive, so I imagine the family wineries get first choice internally (but I really don't know, and didn't ask). I surmise then they offer it externally at premium prices, which of course they always get, being d'Yquem.

I'm also certain that part of the contract is that buyers are never allowed to use or imply in any way that their wine is from d'Yquem.

It really is astonishing how large and expansive the home estate and vineyards are, compared to the really miniscule amounts of wine that goes into the barrel even in the best of vintages. Which is what keeps the wines at such high prices, naturally.
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Tom Troiano

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Re: No Yquem in 2012 ... Twenty Year Curse?

by Tom Troiano » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:23 pm

And in a few years we'll see 50 Sauternes that all claim to be declassified Yquem.
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Re: No Yquem in 2012 ... Twenty Year Curse?

by Hoke » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:19 pm

Tom Troiano wrote:And in a few years we'll see 50 Sauternes that all claim to be declassified Yquem.


Ch. d'Yquem has been doing this for quite some time, Tom, and that hasn't happened yet. And I'm sure they sell it through an independent broker.

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