We were having a side discussion about the '06 Yquem in the Sales and Discounts thread after I had posted that Union Square Wines in New York has this vintage for the unheard price of $150 for a 375ml bottle (half of what other places are charging). Yquem is rarely, if ever, half off.
I thought it best to start a new thread and post the info below. For those who might have purchased for investment reasons PM me and I can forward this email for your records.
I recently received an email from Florence Soustre, Secrétaire de Direction of Château d'Yquem. I had inquired a while ago why the 2006 was released so early.
Although the attached file she sent did not answer my question directly I thought the vintage info was still interesting and worth sharing for those who took the plunge and purchased.
Weather during the 2006 growing season was very unusual: a cold winter was followed, almost without transition, by very warm temperatures that became progressively hotter as spring went on, culminating in a heat wave in July (the hottest month of July ever recorded, just behind the absolute record set in August 2003). However, August was much cooler than usual. As if these ups and downs were not enough, there were record highs once again in September and October. Rainfall was slightly lower than average until July, but increased greatly in August and especially September (twice the monthly average).
By late July, we were convinced that the harvest would be early thanks to the accumulated temperatures and that the crop had superb potential. However, nature rather upset things in August (with cool weather) and September (wet weather), making this vintage altogether atypical and complex. The challenge of the 2006 vintage is to reflect the full potential of a year with complicated weather patterns. Close observation and intimate knowledge of the vineyard were essential in 2006 due to very contrasting situations with regard to soils and grape varieties.
By early September, there were three very different situations in the vineyard:
Sémillon grapes on warm, gravelly, and generally early-ripening soils had found it difficult to cope with the rollercoaster-like weather. There were split skins in the centre of many bunches as well as barely visible, but nevertheless harmful acetic spoilage.
Grapes at the top of later-maturing clay slopes were perfectly ripe, but had no trace of botrytis.
Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grapes on the middle and at the foot of slopes had developed perfectly. Ripening two weeks ahead of a normal year, they had become botrytised thanks to rain in late August and concentrated due to temperatures of 30°C in early September.
We began a first, very early wave of picking on this third type of terroir from the 6th to the 8th of September, followed by a second wave from the 11th to the 13th. This meant that we were able to bring in very high quality grapes, representing a third of the 2006 final blend, just before heavy showers (100 mm) in mid-September.
Thanks to dry weather on the 18th of September, we were able to go though several plots damaged by rain to remove contaminated grapes. From the 21st to the 23rd, we carried out a third wave of picking of superb grapes on the third type of terroir mentioned above.
More rainfall from the 21st to the 25th of September sparked the uniform growth of noble rot on the remaining slowest-ripening plots at Yquem.
We waited until the 27th for a fourth wave of picking on plots that are traditionally well-botritysed before starting to pick recently-botrytised ones on the 28th. Seeing as the beautiful weather at this time lasted over the weekend of the 1st of October, we were able to finish a 5th and final wave of picking in certain targeted plots at the same time as we went over the rest of the vineyard looking for any other perfectly concentrated, rich, pure grapes.
It rained again on the 3rd of October and we had to wait until the 9th to pick any last grapes. From then until the 12th of October, we cut off unhealthy grapes and left them on the ground.
The 2006 harvest was both challenging and exciting. The picking techniques at Yquem were decisive in harvesting ripe, botrytised grapes at the right time, in the right place, without wasting energy on less worthwhile plots.
2006 illustrates the benefit of varied terroirs and the importance of knowing them perfectly in order to make the most of the different soils and grape varieties under unusual weather conditions.
Alcohol by volume: 14°
Residual sugar: 125g/L
Total acidity: 4g/L H2SO4
SPECIALIST'S TASTING NOTES
This is very long and intense. Really impressive. Full and very sweet, yet racy and fresh, with spicy botrytis character. Fantastic. 95/100
J. Suckling – Wine Spectator 4/04/07
According to Pierre Lurton, it will be the finest they have yet made under the new ownership. It is certainly impressive, and appears to be nearly as promising as the 2001, which I thought was perfect.