The Yquem 2008 is easy to spot in a blind line-up: it is (to quote Tina Turner) simply the best. It has a subtle, delicate but very pretty bouquet with fine definition and astounding minerality. The palate is beautifully poised, tense and tightly coiled on the entry and then it just explodes in the mouth with pure, unbridled, joyous botrytized fruit struck through with a silver thread of acidity. It displays exemplary tension and freshness, along with great persistency in the mouth. This is an outstanding Sauternes 2008 and another impressive Yquem. 96 points, Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (2/2012)
Bright light gold. Ripe cling peach, fresh apricot, spices, coconut, minerals and white flowers on the nose, with a note of vanillin oak emerging with air; subdued but wonderfully pure and precise. At once thick and light on its feet, showing an utterly seamless texture and compelling sweetness but also lovely inner-mouth tension thanks to its suave acidity and underlying minerality. The new oak element is in harmony with the wine's fruit already. Really dusts the palate on the back end and builds inexorably. The explosive finish leaves behind a perfumed spice character. The clear star in my 2008 tasting. 95 points, International Wine Cellar (5/2012).
Beautiful lemon cream, chamomile and fried pineapple notes, with a refreshing, almost floral edge running along as well. Creamy coconut and green plum notes fill in on the finish, which has admirable length. A restrained, lighter style, with lovely precision. Drink now through 2035. 94 points, winespectator.com (2012).
There is a lovely purity to the fruit and clear botrytis concentration... Has all the hallmarks of a fine, elegant Yquem. A very polished, well-presented sample. 18.5/20 points. Decanter (6/2009)
Quiet on the nose. More spiced pear and apricot than orange. Lovely concentration. Spiced power, depth and quite warm on the finish. Fresh in a powerful rather than a delicate way. Dense and long. Rich and well-integrated oak though there's lots of spice all the way through. A less delicate style than many in this vintage. 18/20 points, Julia Harding MW, jancisrobinson.com (5/2009).
Sauternes is home to arguably the most prestigious and long-lived sweet wines in the world. Located 65 km south of the city of Bordeaux at the southern tip of the Graves, the appellation has 2100 ha of vineyards planted on flat, alluvial gravels overlying thick layers of limestone. Although viewed as one appellation, Sauternes actually consists of five communes; Barsac, Bommes, Fargues, Preignanc, and Sauternes with Barsac also a designated appellation in its own right. What makes Sauternes unique is its special mesoclimate caused by the confluence of the Ciron and the Garonne rivers.
The region experiences evening mists in autumn which set in until late morning and are subsequently burnt off by warm sunny afternoons. It is precisely these conditions that provide the ideal environment for the growth of botrytis cinerea – a fungus that attacks the grapes, causing them to dehydrate leaving sweet shrivelled fruit, ideal for sweet wine production. Sauternes wines are made predominantly from Sémillon with Sauvignon Blanc with small amounts of Muscadelle. Golden in colour with enticing aromas and flavours of honey, acacia, stone-fruit, candied citrus and marmalade, classic Sauternes is rich, unctuous and beautifully balanced by fresh acidity. Capable of long-ageing, the wines turn deep amber with age, taking on more tertiary caramel flavours over time.