2008: 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)
2008: 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, Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar (5/2012).
2008: 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).
2008: 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)
2008: 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).
1998: …a great success. Made in an elegant style, it is not a blockbuster... well-delineated, with wonderfully sweet aromas of creme brulée, pineapples, apricots, and white flowers… not as sweet as the biggest/richest Yquem vintages, but it is gorgeously pure, precise, and strikingly complex. Already approachable, it should evolve for 30-50 years ... without a doubt. 95 points, Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (10/2003).
1998: Pale gold. Knockout aromas of creme brulée, coconut, vanilla bean, honey and orange peel. Lush and seductively silky in the mouth; its creamy, seamless texture makes it seem deceptively accessible today but sound acid structure should keep it going for 20 years or more. Not hugely sweet or tropical but very complex and fine. Firm, hazelnutty finish offers great length… 95 points, Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellars (8/1998).
1998: Lift and richness and electrified raisins! There's a lot of energy here. Medicine? Sinewy. Not the sweetest. 18/20 points, Jancis Robinson MW (5/2011)
1998: …lighter style… with a lean to the orange, apricot, tangerine side of the style range… does not require, or even ask, for decades of age. It's quite tasty today. 93 points, Jeff Leve, Wine Cellar Insider (7/2016).
1988: This keeps getting better and better. I won't be around when this hits full maturity, whenever that is, but I'm digging it right now. With gobs of honey-drenched pineapples, apricots and tropical fruit, the wine is dense. But the acidity cuts right through. The spicy character, opulent mouthfeel and incredible length are something to experience, at least twice, because it's that good. 98 points, Jeff Leve, Wine Cellar Insider (3/2017).
1988: …has long been an insider's favourite over the 1989 and 1990, although at the end of the day, all three form a brilliant triumvirate at the end of the decade. Tasted from a half bottle, it shone with a slightly burnished amber hue. The bouquet is just as I have encountered with previous bottles with scents of marmalade, mandarin, burnt honey and citrus fruit, perhaps a little waxier and resinous than I recall. The palate is medium-bodied with impressive weight, viscous as you would expect, though not as flamboyant as the 1989 or as unctuous as the 1990. It is beautifully balanced with notes of apricot, white chocolate and orange peel towards the harmonious and tensile finish. You can see this cruising along for two or three decades and maybe it will turn more Barsac-like in style? Time will tell – a glorious Yquem however you look at it. 96 points, Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (6/2016).
1988: Broad and soft, with creamed apricot, mango, date, honey, caramel and marzipan notes, all framed by toasted brioche and musk accents. The flattering finish lets orange curd and flan details glide through. A touch shy on tension, but shows lovely range. 94 points, James Molesworth, winespectator.com (2014).
1988: Dark tawny. The most intriguing nose. Glossy and lively and more intellectual than the other two (1989 and 1990), Extremely long – a hint of ginger and real zest. Certainly seemed the best of these three without a doubt. Very racy and flirtatious -- maybe racier than the 1989. Powerful and very very long. 19.5/20 points, Jancis Robinson MW (2/2008).
1988: …an incredibly profound nose of orange marmalade, dried apricots, honeycomb, musk and dried pineapple with hints of marzipan and crystallized ginger. The palate is seamless with a great line of crisp acid cutting through the densely packed dried tropical fruit and honeyed flavour layers. The finish just goes on and on. 98 points, Robert Parker, Wine Advocate.
1988: Lots of beeswax, botrytis spice and honey, with hints of toffee. Full-bodied, very sweet, thick and layered. Caramel, toffee, spice. Molasses too. Very, very powerful. Muscular and rich. Fabulous Sauternes. Nothing comes close in this vintage. 96 points, James Suckling, Wine Spectator.
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.