The history of CHÂTEAU D'YQUEM is like a novel, an epic saga full of events and colourful personalities spanning more than four centuries.
CHÂTEAU D'YQUEM was almost English. During the Middle Ages, in fact, the estate belonged to the King of England, who was also Duke of Aquitaine at the time. In 1453, southwest France was once again brought under the dominion of the French crown by Charles VII and has stayed French ever since.
A century and a half later, in 1593, a descendent of a local noble family, Jacques Sauvage, was given feudal tenure over Yquem. The Gironde department archives, as well as those of the château, show that special winegrowing practices and late harvesting already existed at this time.
A few years later, the Sauvage family built the château and patiently set about constituting the present-day vineyard, plot by plot. The family became full owners of Yquem in 1711, during the reign of Louis XIV (by which time they had received noble status). In 1785, Françoise Joséphine de Sauvage d’Yquem married Count Louis Amédée de Lur-Saluces.
Romain-Bertrand de Lur-Saluces, Françoise-Joséphine's grandson, took his role as manager of Yquem very much to heart, rather than simply taking possession of the family estate, which had become mythical by this time. In 1855, in posthumous recognition of the tremendous accomplishments of "the lady of Yquem", the estate was designated the one and only premier cru supérieur in the famous classification made at the request of Emperor Napoléon III.
Childless and anxious to protect the future of CHÂTEAU D'YQUEM, Bertrand de Lur-Saluces took measures in anticipation of his demise. In 1966, he designated one of his brother Amédée's sons, Alexandre de Lur-Saluces, to take over managing the estate.
An Outstanding Terroir
Great wines are not born just anywhere, by accident. A unique set of climatic and geological conditions combine to form a rare equilibrium.
This is undoubtedly the case at Yquem, which epitomises all that is best about the singular wine growing environment in Sauternes. CHÂTEAU D'YQUEM's topsoil is warm and dry, accumulating heat thanks to smooth flat pebbles and coarse gravel. The clay subsoil contains good water reserves and there are numerous springs on the estate. Drainage pipes were installed some time ago to prevent waterlogging (100 km of drains since the 19th century).
Yquem's large size made it possible to plant 113 hectares of vines on a very representative sampling of the rich tapestry of the Sauternes region's soil types. This extraordinary variety of soils is a key factor in the quality and complexity of CHÂTEAU D'YQUEM.
CHÂTEAU D'YQUEM has 113 hectares of vines, of which only one hundred produce grapes in a given vintage
Sémillon (75%), which produces a rich wine with body and structure, and Sauvignon Blanc (25%), an early-ripening but less reliable producer, which contributes aromas and finesse. The vines are tended with the greatest of care. Workers perpetuate a long tradition of painstaking work under the watchful eye of the vineyard manager.