Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Why I think Chataeu D'Yquem is the best wine in the world

Many people believe that Chateau D'Yquem is the finest wine in the world and it is difficult not to agree with that assessment.  For starters, the French classify their wines according to an appellation rating of Premier Crus and Grand Crus of First, Second, etc. growths down to Village and Table wines.

In the top tier are such stars as Lafite Rothschild and Haut-Brion, and a few others.  However, only one wine in the world has ever been given a 'premier cru superior' and that is Chataeu D'Yquem.  I was first introduced to the wine by my great friend, Michael Axarlis, when four of us were out drinking one evening.  We had the 1997 vintage and it was truly magnificent.  Several months later, it was Deanna and my 9th anniversary and we celebrated by having a bottle of the 1997 and then tried the 2004 for comparison.  It was sinful to drink the 2004 that early - most Chateau D'Yquems should be laid down for 20 - 50 years or bought for the next generation.  We then found a few bottles of the 1997 and the 1998 vintages at a 'reasonable' price (it is also one of the most expensive wines in the world!) that we now have in our cellar.

Thomas Jefferson also proclaimed it as one of his most favorite wines and purchased a lot of it for himself and the White House when George Washington, and then he,were President.

In total, we have have drunk 7 bottles of Chateau D'Yquem in our life, including 4 of the 1997 vintage (a great year!), one from 1998 (which we just had for our 11th anniversary, and the 2004 vintage which was part of our 9th anniversary.  But the greatest bottle of all was the full bottle we bought and shared at Deanna's 40th birthday party.  As Deanna proclaimed, "It's like having sex in my mouth"!

Now I will be a bit more restrained and just say that it is the best wine I have ever had, and I will tell you the reason why it is different from all other wines that I drink.  When I open a great bottle of wine and pour a bit into the glass to 'nose' it and taste it to make sure it is OK, I am often taken by the great bouquet the wine has and how it seems to fill my senses.  But with EVERY bottle of Chateau D'Yquem I have ever had, my reaction to 'nosing' the wine is one of a physical reaction and pure elation.

My nostrils flair and my chest starts to pulsate.  (I could graphically compare this to another experience where this happens, but will pass for now!)  The intense pleasure of smelling a Chateau D'Yquem actually overwhelms my body which is no longer under my direct control.  It is like my body has struck a perfect harmonic motion with the universe.

While I have had some truly great wines over the years, it is only Chateau D'Yquem that does that to me and it has done it EVERY time.  These pictures (the two immediately above) have been taken from our 11th anniversary dinner (a few weeks ago) and the vintage is 1998 which was not a great year (by Chateau D'Yquem standards!).  However, it was still a remarkable wine.  At our 9th anniversary dinner when I did this with the 1997 vintage, I brought the glass to my nose about 15 times in a row and the physical reaction occurred each and every time.

Chateau D'Yquem is a unique wine in terms of the labor that goes into making it, combined with the perfect location to be able to grow the grapes.  They use a Botrytis Semillon and have 11 pickings over 21 days.  This is much more labor intensive than most makers of a Bortytis Semillon desert wine which have one picking when they think most of the grapes have enough botrytis on them.  With Chateau D'Yquem, each grape is ripened almost to perfection, and not an average of the entire batch of grapes, with some being too ripe and others not ripe enough.

We only open a bottle to celebrate very special occasions, but have great joy when we do.  I have drunk many outstanding wines in my day, but nothing makes me pulsates like Chateau D'Yquem!

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