Though introduced as a “Wine Star,” Pierre Lurton adopted a humble demeanor and devoted his time on stage to what he believes is the real star—Château d’Yquem, the Sauternes property he has managed since 2004. Such humility is less surprising than you would think from the first man to manage two Bordeaux first-growths at once. “I have a terrible job,” he joked. “I get to divide my time between Yquem and Cheval-Blanc.” But working two incredible pieces of land has given him an appreciation for what greatness truly means.
Lurton, who comes from one of Bordeaux’s most prolific and successful winemaking families, shared that appreciation by bringing a dozen cases of Yquem 2001 (100 points, $400 on release, $574 current auction price) for the audience to taste. He explained how Yquem’s unique location, on a hillside not far from where the Garonne River meets the smaller Ciron, produced optimal conditions for sweet wine. Just before harvest, those rivers help produce a blanket of fog that triggers the growth of Botrytis cinerea, which concentrates the grapes. Yquem’s pickers make multiple passes through the vineyards, waiting for each cluster to develop the right amount of “noble rot.” Those grapes must then be treated gently in the winery.
Because the grapes are concentrated, each vine produces just one glass of Yquem. All of those details made the wine an incredible treat for the crowd. Even so, Lurton seemed to wish he had brought an even older vintage. “It’s a fantastic travel through time, to taste a wine like the 1961 d’Yquem…” Here he trailed off, letting the audience appreciate the 2001 for themselves and letting them dream of even older Yquem for another day.
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