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2003 Château d'Yquem Sauternes Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend
D'Yquem 2003 - Much ado about nothing.

When I have d'Yquem au menu, I give up being rational. Both ways, and I'm usually dithyrambic... partly because uncorking d'Yquem is not daily bread, and partly because there's something indefinable behind this sober and elegant label that is very unfair to other contenders on the Ciron's banks : if you've had a chance to taste such vintages as 1975, 1988, 2001, 2007 and even the more "modest" 1989, you know what I mean. And if you're unfortunate enough to have stored a few cases of 2003, then, you have a problem. At least : I have a problem.

2003 was indeed a challenging year marked by an unprecedented heat wave where inspired winemakers created beauties in Sauternes and Barsac - Coutet 2003 brought me down to my knees! - but the sprinkle of genius did not illuminate Yquem. Not at all. Let me be straightforward : this-is-a-very-disappointing-wine. Period. And if you wish to live the d'Yquem 2003 experience without having to pay the entry fee for the legend, here are 3 alternatives that will save you time and money :

1. Meet my grand mother. Or just pay her a visit when she cares of her oak furniture (that's usually on Tuesday): the intoxicating smell of turpentine backed by a contradictory scent of beeswax will give you a clear idea of the olfactory impressions of this vintage. Absolutely nothing (exotic fruits, white flowers) can survive to such a mess swirl of indelicate fragrances.

2. Fix yourself an Aperol x Spritz, without Proseco. Or sip a shot of Bitter San Pellegrino. The coarseness of bitters, the ubiquitous and unmelted sugars and the dryness on the finish will get you as close as one can get to where d'Yquem 2003 can take you.

3. Let dry an orange peel for a couple weeks : once it has reached the consistence of a candied fruit, chew it. Let it melt in your mouth for a while and blame me for having suggested this rather painful experiment.

Such a disappointment would be excusable if I only had that impression once. But statistics don't lie, and the 3 bottles from 2 different cases I´ve drunk over the past 6 months gave me and my guests the same consistent impression of a perfectly failed wine.
  • Winegangster commented:

    7/12/22, 2:35 AM - @aagrawal, @oldwines, @I'RatherBeDrinkingWine : thank you to the 3 of you for having taken time to comment on my rather bitter post. Origin and storage may have been the root causes for my recurring disapopintment with d'Yquem 2003, however, the two 6x cases were purchased from the same reliable supplier (Millesima in Bordeaux) as were all my d'Yquem since 1997. As far as storage is concerned, these 2 cases have been treated the same way as the other wines that I keep : underground cellar, cooled with an internal unit at 55-57° (F)/13-14°(C), humidity varies little (between 70% and 75%)... so most of the boxes of the check list seem to have been ticked. And, on the long run, most of my wines benefit from the same treatment, and I don't recall having had such a gap between my expectations and the actual tasting.

    As @I'dRatherBeDrinking Wine may have suggested, my palate may be different... or I may lack nuance when d'Yquem is on the menu. My expectations for that wine are systematically higher than for other sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac, and it's all the more true for 2003 since my daughter was born on that year. I have spent 18 years anticipating the joy of celebrating important milestones with her and d'Yquem, increasing all the more the level of expectations and the consequent perceived severity of faults which would have been negligible in other vintages or other crus. Climens 1997 gave me the same sens of inconsistency as d'Yquem 2003, with this same ambushed bitterness and lack of fluidity, but it's "just" Climens, and flaws are acceptable. Not with d'Yquem ;)

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