Massachusetts Beverage Business



Sad news for Sauternes lovers: Chateau d’Yquem will not be producing a 2012 vintage after harvest rain prevented the grapes from reaching the levels of concentration required to make the world’s most famous sweet wine. Pierre Lurton, who runs the celebrated estate behind the Sauternes wine for its main shareholder LVMH, said the decision, which will cost the luxury goods group tens of millions of euros, had been taken to maintain Yquem’s reputation for excellence. “We tried our best but unfortunately the weather was not with us this year,” Lurton said. “A brand like Yquem has to be prepared to not make a vintage. For the image of one of the world’s great white wines and for Yquem’s place in history, it was a reasonable decision not to make a wine this year.” Interestingly, there were likewise no vintages made in 1952, 1972 and 1992. “It is as if there was a curse on us every 20 years,” Lurton added

Despite advances in technology, the production of sweet wine in the Sauternes area of southwestern France remains vulnerable to the whims of weather. The sweetness of the wine comes from grapes that have been left on the vines long enough to be affected by noble rot, which bolsters sugar levels and imparts the complex notes of fruit, honey and nuts. For the rot to develop, producers rely on a combination of autumnal morning mists and mid-day sunshine that occur most but not all years. With an average production of 1OO,OOO bottles per year, the decision to cancel output means foregoing around 25 million euros (US $33 million) in sales.

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