Château d’Yquem releases a more approachable Sauternes for €60

Lundi 13 juillet 2020 par Vitisphere

In terms of aroma and flavour, “there are the candied flavours of Sauternes. There are the freshness and citrus fruits of a young vintage, and the palate is fairly rich but driven by freshness”, is how Sandrine Garbay describes the new wines.
In terms of aroma and flavour, “there are the candied flavours of Sauternes. There are the freshness and citrus fruits of a young vintage, and the palate is fairly rich but driven by freshness”, is how Sandrine Garbay describes the new wines. - crédit photo : Château d'Yquem

Everyone agrees that Sauternes is delicious, but not enough people drink it. We need to make it more approachable”, claims Sandrine Garbay, cellar master at Château d'Yquem (LVMH). This is not just wishful thinking on her part. The acclaimed chateau has released a new, much more accessible ‘Sauternes’ label with a consumer price tag of 60 euros a bottle. By way of a comparison, the 1855-classified first growth costs six times more - €396 a bottle for the 2017 vintage.

‘Sauternes’ has a specific objective: “We want people to enjoy it, in a relaxed way. We subscribe to the idea of modernising consumption of Sauternes wines”, explains Sandrine Garbay. The winemaker goes on to explain how she created the blend “of grape varieties, vineyard sites and vintages. On average, 4 to 5 years are blended, including the latest vintage, akin to a solera, with a set base to which a recent vintage is added”. Each new bottling has a different number, creating a timeline for this unique, non-vintage wine.

It is designed to be enjoyed as an aperitif and accessibility is key to the way it was crafted. Its inception dates back to 2005, when Pierre Lurton took over at the helm of Château d'Yquem. After tasting batches of wines deemed unsuitable for producing the celebrated noble-rot wine and subsequently sold in bulk, he decided to give some of them to the estate's employees. As climate change has increased ripeness levels during the sorting process, production has grown and the amount of wine offloaded in bulk has risen to an average of 50%. “It was a shame that all of it should be shipped in bulk. In 2014, Sauternes 1 was launched for employees of the LVMH group (5,000 employees in France)”, points out Sandrine Garbay.

Faced with sustained demand from LVMH employee groups, Château d'Yquem is now going all the way and serving Sauternes 6 to chateau visitors. For its public release, the collection of Sauternes 1 to 6 is sold in a mixed box (photo below). “Quantities are limited, but if it sells well, we will be able to make more”, says Sandrine Garbay, who so far has only mentioned cellar door sales.

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