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D’Yquem puts the emphasis on young and old with new Lighthouse series

Published:  11 February, 2022

Chateau d’Yquem is encouraging consumers to try their sweet wines young as part of a global by-the-glass initiatives with key on-trade players, while also allowing more time for the wines to age at the winery before being bottled and released to market.

When aged, d’Yquem’s legendary wines are best drunk after 10 years, with seemingly no upper limit on the liquid’s ability to develop intensity and complexity.

However, the estate is now also putting added emphasis on drinking the wine young, with a new Lighthouse initiative now encouraging consumers to try the wines when they’re newly released to market.

“Many people know the aging potential of d’Yquem because the sugar and noble rot develops a big, beautiful aromatic palate with age,” winemaker Sandrine Garbay told Harpers.

“But because of the work in the cellar, and because the wines are bottled with big, aromatic intensity, Yquem is also a very approachable wine. When aged, sometimes it can be more intellectual. But very young, it is very approachable. We want to show that.”

The Lighthouse programme will focus on larger formats, such as jeroboams, to enable consumers to taste the new 2019 vintage by the glass, with key partnerships globally including Annabel’s, Portland Restaurant and Berry Bros. & Rudd in London.

There will also be a focus on smaller outfits, such as boutique wine bars in Paris, with the objective of enabling consumers to try the wines in a “more informal way”.

Alongside this nouveau initiative, the estate has also amended its rubric to allow the freedom for slightly more time in barrel if necessary.

This reverses commercial constraints which meant the wines have, for the past several years or so, seen the wines being released rigidly in the September of the second year following the harvest.

“It was becoming frustrating, because some of the wines need a little bit longer. For example, 2019 needed a full 24 months of aging, with bottling at 26 months. The 2019 vintage had very nice acidity, but it had a certain richness, which needed the tannins of the barrel to achieve balance on the palate. By postponing by six months or so, we’re free to age a little bit more,” Garbay explained.

This brings d'Yquem closer to its approach in the past, where sweet wines were aged for an average of 36 months.

The estate also produces around 25,000 bottles of dry wine annually – just under a third of its sweet volumes. It has been part of the LVMH group since 1999. 

Château d’Yquem will release its 2019 vintage on 22 March 2022.