No 2012 Yquem – a Strange Decision?

There has been much speculation as to why Chateau d’Yquem has decided not to make a 2012 Sauternes.  I will never now get to taste the wine so I cannot really comment but I have no reason to doubt the integrity of the winemaking team in making the decision.

What I can say is that others have fared rather better.  There was certainly a lot of botrytis and, for those that waited, there was concentration too which will produce some wines of quality.  I anticipate that the vintage will prove overall to be as good, if not better, than 2004 or 2006.

My thoughts on Yquem and 2012 are in the clip below and, as an added bonus, there is a clip from Philippe and Aline Baly at Chateau Coutet that illustrates well the fact that some chateaux have made good wines in 2012.  Enjoy!

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6 Responses to “No 2012 Yquem – a Strange Decision?”

  1. Todd Says:

    Assuming they harvested, sorted, crushed, and fermented, now what does D’Yquem do with all that juice? Negociant? Down the drain?

  2. admin Says:

    It’s a bit of a mystery – deliberately so! Firstly, there is not that much in 2012 to find a place for as the yield is tiny (roughly a tenth of the normal crop so therefore only a tenth of the normal income is actually being lost). Some gets released internally within the LVMH group and to employees bottled as AC Sauternes. Beyond that you occasionally see merchants offering wines with a ‘nod and a wink’ hinting that it is declassified Yquem. Whilst this can be tempting you have to bear in mind that even if the wine is genuinely from Yquem it certainly won’t have been given the Yquem treatment (100% new oak barrels and the rest) and can therefore be a little disappointing even at a reduced price. For 2012s there should be some good quality and value wines from other properties that picked at the optimum time. Botrytis was good – it just needed to dry out. Bill’s tastings in January should reveal a little more about the overall picture.

  3. Dan Says:

    With 2012 not turning out too well, can you sum up the trio of 09-10-11?

    Is it fair to say that,
    09 is the richest with avg to above avg acid
    10 is the lightest with above avg acid
    11 falls in between 09-10 with the greatest level of nobel rot

    I know this may be over simplifying but, I’m trying to get a handle on the 3 vintages.

    Of these 3 vintages which Suduiraut would you most want to try in the year 2040?
    Thanks Daniel

  4. admin Says:

    That is simplifying it perhaps a little too much. 2009 is definitely the richest and ripest vintage – watch out for our upcoming reviews from bottle. Sweetness levels are generally the highest but there is enough acidity in most cases to provide balance. At this stage it appears that the wines that tried to contain the power of the vintage and produce fresher wines by picking wider (i.e. adding in some green, non-botrytised grapes) have struggled a little but that would be nit-picking. Overall it is just a fantastic vintage where the lesser estates had a good shot at producing wines to match the quality of the top chateaux. There are some great value wines to be had.

    In 2010 botrytis came more slowly but the wines sometimes have a few more layers to them as a result. You are right that acidity levels are higher but take care not to confuse ‘total acidity’ and ‘ph’. In 2011 the ‘total acidity’ profiles were similar but ‘ph’s’ were lower and it is this that gives the 2011’s there remarkable freshness and brightness even though they, like the 2009s had a fantastic rush of botrytis.

    In a way then the 2010s are maybe between the 2009s and 2011s in terms of style – rich and full 2009s, bright and breezy (but powerful underneath) 2011s with a bit of both for the 2010s alongside their complexity.

    But that’s being far too simplistic too!

  5. admin Says:

    Dan – I forgot about the Suduiraut part of your question. Pierre Montegut hinted to us in the cellar that he, somewhat against the opinions of other winemakers, preferred his 2010 to his 2011. If you had said in 20 years time then I would probably go with Pierre but personally I’d be fascinated to see how the 2009 is doing in 40 years time – it was one of the top three wines from the vintage in our recent bottle tastings.

    I wouldn’t also ignore 2012 completely. There are likely to be some good wines despite Yquem’s decision, especially in Barsac, and they could be great value for money.

  6. Todd Says:

    Hey, thank you for the detailed reply. Sounds like a sticky situation to be sure (couldn’t help myself). While one tenth income is obviously not ideal, it is a goodly sum given their metrics. Will be interesting to follow as (if) more details come out. If the decision to dump is strictly quality and not spoilage or contaminent, I applaud their commitment to Premier Cru quality and brand integrity.

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