2010 Rieussec, Yquem and Neal Martin?

Okay, we went through this with Mr. Martin in 2009 with Sauternes. He implied (or is that infered) in an early tasting that the 2009 Suduirault might eclipse the 2009 Yquem. In his final analysis, I believe he determined that Yquem justified beating Suduirault by a point. Now with 2010, he is apparently saying that Rieussec is the equal of or superior to the 2010 Y’quem. Knowing that there are those who believe that Yquem is in a class by itself, could this be true? And at 7-8 times the price, could this vintage of Yquem be worth the tariff?

Thanks for posting this… I’ve been thinking about starting this thread. I think at the very least it’s good marketing, as it got me to buy a month’s subscription to the wine advocate to read his notes (plus the notes for 04 and 2013), and I also bought a few halves of 2010 Rieussec (though I probably would have done this at some point anyway, and the cost was ~$30/half, which is my threshold for Rieussec).

I think the answer to your question is impossible to know unless you taste the two side by side, which I don’t think I’ll ever get to do. But in general, I think Neal Martin is an excellent taster of Sauternes. I’m also more trusting of his scores since these are the wines in bottle, not the EP scores which are notoriously variable and unreliable just because of the difficulty of tasting such young Sauternes. Also, he tasted these blind so that makes label bias much less of an issue.

Do I think the Rieussec could have beat the Yquem in Neal Martin’s blind tasting? Sure. It’s probably an excellent wine. Will the same be true in a decade or three? Maybe, maybe not. Again, with the pricing on the 2010 Yquem (even if it ends up being discounted 50+%), I can’t afford it… so may as well buy Rieussec halves for $30…

Also, I tend to LOVE Rieussec.

It certainly is possible that Rieussec is better than Y’quem in any given vintage but for me Rieussec is 10% of what Y’quem cost. Do 1 or 2 points matter if Rieussec is 10% of Y’quem?

It remains to be seen what the ‘new’ Rieussec can age into as we know the greatness that Y’quem can achieve, but at $30 I’ll buy a couple and see.

I was at the Southwold tasting where Neal took these notes. It’s true that Yquem’s star didn’t outshine everything else on the table. Suduiraut and Rieussec were excellent. My highest mark went to Climens.

Thanks for posting. It’s fantastic to hear from someone who was at the same tasting. Interesting point on the Climens. Looks like that is about 2.5x the price of Rieussec, so still pretty respectable for the Rieussec. Did you have any other favorites? I’m always a fan of Coutet and Fargues and would be curious how they fared.

Haven’t tried those vintages but there’s no reason to believe that something is as good or better. A good part of the Yquem mystique is marketing. Neil is a pretty good judge of Sauternes and if he found some other wines as good or better, I’m sure he wasn’t saying so just to be controversial. This is a perfect example of where blind tasting is a great idea.

Today, d’Yquem is so much money, it’s hard to justify the price when compared to wines like Rieussec, Climens, Coutet and Suduiraut. On the other hand, if you plan on laying down the wine for 50 or more years, (so your children or grandchildren can enjoy it) which is when the great vintages of d’Yquem start to come alive, there is no comparison. d’Yquem is more than heads and shoulders above any other wine. In the best vintages, d’Yquem will continue to develop when the other wines are dead and buried.

While that is not of much use to most people, especially in today’s hurry up and drink it world, that is a large part of what you are paying for. It’s the same for the First Growths of the Medoc and Pessac Leognan as well.

Another great thing about not having kids - no need to buy d’Yquem!

Isn’t the proper shorthand Yquem, rather than d’Yquem? Chateau d’Yquem’s website suggests so: http://www.yquem.fr/yquem.php?lang=uk

Perhaps so, but given how much they charge, the shorthand should be $'Yquem.

If one wanted to be pedantic, it is either Chateau d’Yquem, or Yquem. On the other hand, I just like drinking the stuff! FWIW, Yquem was my wine of the year in 2012 and 2013.

Jeff,
Let’s assume, for sake of argument, this is true of d’Yquem vintages of the past, that we can drink now in a fully developed stage. Do you think the same can be said of today’s vintages? That is, have other producers upped their game, with better knowledge, viticulture, money, etc., to the point where 2010 vintages of Climens, or Rieussec (or others) will hold their own against d’Yquem in 50 years time?

My own view is that dYquem is still at the top of the list, followed closely by Climens in most vintages, then another tier that can rise to near comparable levels in some years.

I agree with Leve. For me, the premium on d’Yquem is that it ages better than any other Sauternes.

I’ve never even had a Sauternes but am fascinated by this wine given my overall love of whites. What I find curious on the Rieussec vs. Y’quem ageability debate, is when I go check notes from CT on both wines from 30-40 years ago, they’re both rated very well. I get the mystique and pedigree of Y’quem, but am I missing something here? Not questioning anyone’s taste…just seeking to understand.

For me rieussec ages well and holds on for 40-50 years as to Yquem becomes magic and continues to improve and grow after 40 years. Yquem is 100 year wine as rieussec is a 50 year wine.

Alan… It’s not just Climens, Rieussec and Coutet that have upped their game, Yquem has upped their game as well. Keep in mind, when Sauternes was classified in 1855, wines like Climens and Rieussec were First Growths. The quality of Yquem versus other Sauternes has always been recognized.

In fact, if you ask any producer in the Medoc or Right Bank to name the best wine, there will always be an argument. If you ask any producer in Sauternes to name the best wine, everyone will say Yquem. Go to Burgundy, there will be arguments on the best producer, the same for Italy, Calif and every great wine region. Yquem is unique in that regard as it’s the only wine that every producer agrees is the best wine in the appellation.

Knowing that I either won’t be around in 50 years, or won’t still be drinking wine, I don’t know that the distinction means much to me as a buyer. But it sure makes for an interesting factoid.

For me personally, Rieussec has been best consumed in its first 20-30 years. They seem to lose their sweetness after more aging, losing fruit and sugar while gaining more burnt tones and acidity. I’ve have much better experience with older Climens. 1971 today is stunning! It’s much better than Yquem in the same vintage.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a mixed three-six pack of some aged Sauternes to taste. 375ml is a great size if you’re tasting alone or with only a couple of people. They are fascinating wines that become remarkably complex with time. I’d recommend checking out Rieussec, Coutet, Climens, and Suiduiraut if you want the top experiences. I’d look for wines with at the 20-30 year mark.

It seems that Yquem’s price doubled when it was bought by Louis Vuitton. Given that it is a very good wine, you could try and justify it’s lofty premium in 2003 and before. I’m not sure how you justify the price of vintages 2005+ other than it is a luxury good, like buying a Louis Vuitton handbag.