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Chateau d’Yquem: 2011, 2008, 2005, 2001, 1996, 1989, 1988 & 1957

March 23, 2018

Dr Ngoi threw a surprise dinner at Nicolas on 20 March 2018 that was paired entirely with an astounding vertical of Chateau d’Yquem. It transpired later that this dinner had been in the works for several months, inspired by a similar dinner back at Chateau d’Yquem itself last year attended by the man himself. With the help of Tsun-Yan, Peter, Winfred and Ted, a vertical had been carefully assembled while Grace worked with Nicolas to plan a menu that would match a whole evening of Sauternes. Tsun-Yan had also brought a pair of 2002 Dalle Valle Maya to pair with the delectable beef. All were poured from 750 mL bottles with the exception of the 2011 and 2001. Needless to say, it all panned out beautifully, and all the gleaming liquid gold on the table made us the envy of all the other guests at the restaurant. Thank you very much, Dr Ngoi, for your generosity and to everyone for your presence and wonderful contributions.

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2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs. Fresh clear crystalline tones, displaying fine body and excellent clarity, detailing white flowers in bloom with full presence of green fruits, eventually exuding lovely earthy tones with an yeasty pungency whilst developing further dry gentle intensity. Excellent.

2011 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Winfred. From a pair of half bottles. Superb bouquet of dry intense nectarine and paraffin, very lovely detail in its intoxicating aroma. Smooth and luscious with excellent layering and depth, displaying great freshness, balance and superb refinement, yet almost delicate. Outstanding.

2001 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Peter Tan. From a pair of half bottles. Considerably evolved with a deep golden hue, heavier in tint and tone. Resinous with great lifted notes of honey and apricot whilst stony minerals and medicinal tones dominate on the palate at first, gradually growing in majestic breadth and regal nobility as the rich concentration of glorious fruit took on its grip, becoming stunningly complex on the bouquet which never ceased developing throughout the whole evening, proffering further notes of dried flowers and malt. I’d imagine this wine would be developing at a slower pace if tasted from 750 ml bottles. A complete Sauternes. My wine of the night.

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2008 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Winfred. Lovely rounded bouquet of honey and rock melons, the fruit and acidity producing a peculiar peek-a-boo teasing intensity on the palate before gradually gaining weight though it still came across as slightly veiled and a tad gruff with overtones of the wilderness.

2005 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Ted. Quite subtle on the nose, actually restrained. Rather understated in acidity and richness on the palate, allowing the full concentration of nectarine to take on some deftness. A tad pensive on the whole compared with numerous previous tastings at FICOFI functions. Is it receding into its shell?

1996 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Peter Tan. Well evolved, offering apricot and cinnamon on the nose. Medium-bodied, not heavy at all, displaying good delicacy with characters of spice and orange peel, turning a bit stern towards the short finish with overtones of graphite.

1989 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Tsun-Yan. Dull golden hue though the palate sees lush luscious nectarine with superb acidity and fluidity that produced a certain lightness, distinctly feminine as it flowed to a long glowing finish marked by overtones of ash. Excellent.

1988 Ch d’Yquem, courtesy of Tsun-Yan. Drunk side-by-side with the above, the 1988 is just a shade heavier in tone, carrying more weight with lovely tones of tangerines and mandarins, fairly rich in texture though the 1989 is distinctly fresher.

20180320_190619.jpg1992 Dalle Valle Maya, courtesy of Tsun-Yan. Deep impenetrable red, exuding a high-toned minerally bouquet with overtones of vanillin amidst a powerful earthy pungency, almost hedonistic. Open with surprising lightness on the palate, displaying a spectrum of flavours savoury tones, mint, spicy black pepper, dry mushrooms and herbs, its acidity and tannins leaving behind a mouth-puckering sensation long after its finish. The only gripe is the relative lack of fruit to match the supporting structure, for this wine could certainly do with greater fullness and depth.

1957 Ch d’Yquem, sourced directly from the chateau by Dr Ngoi. Only one of three bottles remaining, it seems. I have never seen a Sauternes looking so dark that it’s almost unrecognisable. Nevertheless, this wine is amazingly fresh on the nose, throwing up notes of fruitcake, old honey and caramel, displaying good lift with traces of gunsmoke, still imbued with fresh acidity that imparted fine presence on the palate although the fruit has receded quite a bit, characterised by toffee and burnt orange. Still holding on, ageing gracefully but clearly past its prime. Still, what a privilege to have tasted it!

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