2020 Château d’Yquem


As most devotees to all things botrytised and golden will be aware, in recent years, Château Yquem has changed the timing of their releases so that each primeur they only show the latest bottled vintage instead of the latest in barrel. Ergo, this year, I was afforded an opportunity to taste the 2020 Yquem when visiting the estate. Newly-appointed technical director Lorenzo Pasquini gave me some brief background information: "The most important factor with regard to the 2020 vintage is that October was the fifth rainiest at Yquem. Therefore, the heart of the wine comes from a five-day window between October 16 and 21. There were actually four tries between September 14 and October 26; however, the last two were sold off as bulk. We have been reducing the level of SO2 in recent years. The 2020 was matured entirely in new oak as usual (albeit for 22 months whereas in the past it was 36 months), and this vintage contains 135g/l residual sugar.”

The 2020 Yquem, a blend of 75% Semillon and 25% Sauvignon Blanc, cropped at a measly 10hl/ha, has a very sensual bouquet. It’s pretty mercurial as it unfolds in the glass, with scents of freshly sliced white peaches, almonds and pineapple. The oak is beautifully integrated, and allowing it further time, there are additional scents of Vervain tea, pressed white flowers and saffron. The palate makes an immediate impact with a mineral-rich, surprisingly saline entry that lends it edginess right from the off. The poise in this Yquem rivets you to the spot. Compared to recent vintages, this keeps everything buttoned down and tightly controlled until the finish, whereupon it fans out with nascent swagger. Stem ginger, caramelized pear and orange rind notes are delivered with excellent delineation. This animated and opulent Yquem is destined to age gracefully over the coming decades. 97/Drink 2040-2100.  

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