The sweet liquid bottled by Château d’Yquem has been highly regarded and sought-after by wine enthusiasts and collectors for years upon years. It is accepted by the masses that Château d’Yquem reigns best- not of just the Bordeaux region, but the entire world. In fact, it may prove quite difficult to find someone who disagrees!
Château d’Yquem is a Premier Cru Supérieur (“Superior First Growth”) wine from the Sauternes, Gironde region in the southern part of the Bordeaux vineyards known as Graves. In the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, Château d’Yquem was the only Sauternes given this rating, indicating its perceived superiority and higher prices over all other wines of its type. Yquem’s success stems mainly from the site’s susceptibility to attack by “noble rot” (Botrytis cinerea).
The intense, flavorful wine can be quite intimidating to pair with food. However, when the perfect dish is selected to emphasize the complex flavors of d’Yquem rather than compete, a truly unforgettable food and wine experience is inevitable.
Wines from Château d’Yquem are characterized by their complexity, concentration, and sweetness. A relatively high acidity helps to balance the wine’s sweetness. Another characteristic for which Château d’Yquem wines are known is their longevity. With proper care, a bottle will keep for a century or more. During this time, the fruity overtones will gradually fade and integrate with more complex secondary and tertiary flavors.
When young (up to approx 25 years after the vintage), a bottle will feature intense aromas of honey, flower, tropical fruit, vanilla, apricot, peach, grilled nut, and citrus. As time goes on, an aged bottle of Sauternes will deepen in color and elude to even richer notes of caramel and butterscotch.
For the best experience, serve a bottle of Château d’Yquem around 57 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature will ensure the ‘fresh from the cellar’ appeal and leave room for the wine to develop as it warms in the glass.
When pairing a bottle of d’Yquem with an apple tart, opt for a bottle that has aged for at least 10-15 years. A fruit tart best emphasizes the honeyed, stone-fruit aromas of Sauternes while the apple brings out the exotic fruitiness of the wine. At the same time, the caramel highlights its rich sweetness. Check out this excellent apple tart recipe!
The key to pairing Sauternes with dessert is to ensure that the wine is significantly sweeter, hence our cheesecake selection. A sweeter dessert results in a less than pleasurable experience, making the wine taste sour. A cheesecake is a fantastic pairing for a glass of d’Yquem; the high levels of acidity and sweetness found in the wine balance the rich, creamy composition of a cheesecake. Take the pairing up a notch by topping your dessert with fruit toppings such as strawberries or peaches! Here is one of our favorite cheesecake recipes.
The tried and true wine and cheese pairing applies to sweet wine too! When selecting cheeses to place on your platter, keep one thing in mind; the older the bottle, the richer the cheese. A younger wine will pair best with soft, mild cheeses such as Brie, Camemer, or a Spanish Manchego. Pair an older bottle with more intense cheese like Roquefort or Epoisses. They aren’t wrong- a little cheese and a little wine, and everything will undoubtedly be fine!
If there were any one dish made to pair perfectly with a glass of Sauternes, foie gras would take the cake! This holy grail pairing works thanks to contrast. The savory flavors of the duck liver dish beautifully contrast the citrus, honey sweetness of Château d’Yquem. A younger, more acidic bottle of d’Yquem would pair best, cutting through the rich flavors of foie gras. Ready to bust out the apron? Check out this recipe.
Lobster is both rich and creamy, making it suitable for a glass of Château d’Yquem. This delicate yet savory pairing will create a beautiful balance of flavors while on the palate, guaranteed! Try this ‘Lobster in Sauternes’ recipe and indulge.
While the flavors presented in a bottle of Château d’Yquem can be quite complex, they are anything but impossible! Browse our current inventory of Château d’Yquem or explore any of the other great bottles of Sauternes in our cellar- there isn’t a wrong choice!
Do you have a favorite Sauternes food pairing? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Established in 2002, Benchmark Wine Group is the leading source of fine and rare wine retailers, restaurants, and collectors around the world. Based in Napa Valley, we acquire the most sought-after wines from private individuals and professional contacts, but only when provenance can be verified by our team of acquisition professionals. Our staff draws on decades of industry experience and is dedicated to providing exceptional service to all of our clients. Benchmarkwine.com offers 24-hour access to our cellar, displaying inventory in real-time.