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Château d'Yquem--Vintage 1988

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Estimate: US$1,400 - US$2,000
Price realised:  US$2,280
Lot number 442, Views: 26

Château d'Yquem--Vintage 1988
1 double-magnum per lot
Sauternes Of the regions outlined in this catalogue, Sauternes is the only one that produces a wine of complete international uniqueness. Connoisseurs can debate the differences in Cabernet Sauvignon blends from different Bordeaux communes (and even their cousins in California) but no other region in the world (not even the Chenin Blanc-based wines of the Loire, or the Furmint-based wines of Tokaj) produces a wine like that of Sauternes. The low lying commune, surrounded by the rivers Ciron and Garonne create a unique climate of mild, misty nights, in which Botrytis cinerea or pourriture noble forms on the outsides of the Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes, concentrating the sugars and flavors within their withered skins. These grapes are painstakingly hand harvested one by one, a process that sometimes requires up to ten passes through the vineyards to ensure that only affected grapes are harvested. The risks are great: noble rot can turn to grey rot very quickly, and ruin the entire crop. But the rewards are high too: in great years, the best châteaux of Sauternes produce a sublime and almost immortal yet underappreciated sweet wine. 1988 * * * * The first of an unprecedented trio of highly successful Sauternes vintages. The early autumn weather, following a hot summer with storms, encouraged the spread of pourriture noble and provided ideal harvesting conditions. My original assessment of this vintage was 5 stars, outstanding, but while unquestionably good I think it doesn't quite stand up to the following vintages, particularly the 1990. 1989 * * * * * Extremely hot summer assured the grapes' full ripeness and very high sugar content, added to which misty mornings provided the highly desirable botrytis. Magnificent Sauternes. The best vintage of the decade. 1990 ***** The third of the outstanding Sauternes trio of vintage. As in 1989 a hot dry summer brought the grapes to full ripeness, (overall the highest sugar levels since 1929). The worry that it was too dry for botrytis to set was remedied by adequate rain in August and September, inducing early evidence of noble rot and well-nigh perfect conditions for the production of great sweet wines. In retrospect, and after looking thought my notes, I think the 1990 is the best Sauternes vintage for decades. The conditions were such that virtually no one made a poor wine and even the habitual underperformers did well. CHÂTEAU d'YQUEM Yquem came into the Lur-Saluces family by marriage in 1785. This illustrious estate remained under family control until 1996 when family shareholders sold their majority to LVMH. The modern era of the estate was lead by the very capable Comte Alexandre de Lur-Saluces whose astute management over saw many of the last century's greatest Yquem vintages, 1967, 1971, 1976, 1983, 1986, 1988 and the now legendary 1990. Comte Alexandre was the 6th generation of the Lur-Saluces family to watch over this dynasty. The whole domaine comprises the finest 465 acres in all of Sauternes to which just under 280 acres are planted exclusively to Sémillon and Sauvignon. The exceptional quality of the wine can be attributed to several factors. First, the very nature of the soil which, lying often on clay, has to be well drained, in part to the admirable way the estate's slopes are exposed, especially the very severe way the grapes are selected, and of course to the meticulous care taken in cultivating the vines, picking the grapes and making the wine. Only that part of the crop judged to be perfect is bottled under the Château grand vin label and in some years the entire crop is declassified, as it was in 1964, 1972, 1974, and 1992. It is this constant attention to detail and the very great care taken to make sure the wine is of top quality which enabled Yquem, in the 1855 classification, to be given the title "Premier Cru Supérieur." Château d'Yquem--Vintage 1988 Sauternes, 1er grand cru classé All lots in original wooden cases Parcel: lots

Informations about the auction
Auction house: Christie's
Title: First Growth Bordeaux From An Ex ceptional Private Collection
Date of the auction: 26 Apr 2008
Address: Christie's
26 April 2008, New York, Rockefeller Center