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Presidential Dessert Wine Production

In 2009, I was a Food Server in a restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip waiting on a group of seven gentlemen. These guys were celebrating a bachelor party and were gorging away on incredible steaks and pastas. The father of the bachelor asked me for a dessert wine list and began skimming the menu quickly. He then shouted to the table, “Gentlemen, would you like try a dessert wine?!”  The other six younger men (including the Groom) were not interested and rather take their travels elsewhere. (I think you have an idea of where they were going).

dessert wine production

Dessert Wine Story Time!

The Father continued, “Who wants Chateau d’Yquem?  Come on, none of you?! I mean the George Washington drank this stuff!”  I chimed in, “George Washington?!”  The father replied, “Yeah, Thomas Jefferson introduced him to it.”  “Oh?” I thought with a smirk. “So that’s why Washington had the wooded teeth, right?!”  The Father chuckled and then asked for the check. I was thinking that the Chateau d’Yquem was $500, and thought to myself, “Dammit! Missed.”

A couple of days later on a day off, I researched what that father said and went to Wikipedia about Thomas Jefferson’s love for wine. Jefferson did introduce George Washington to Chateau d’Yquem and then bought 30 dozen bottles. Remember, I did mention that the bottle in my restaurant was $500 today.

So why do avid wine lovers flip out in the past and today about Chateau d’Yquem?  This is a best dessert wine to not only come out of Sauternes, France in the Bordeaux Region but also in the world. This particular dessert is legally defined as the greatest dessert wine in Bordeaux, (1855 Classification of Bordeaux). This wine is only designed in perfect vintages.


Here Are the Classic Dessert Wine Vintages Chateau d’Yquem Since 1960:

1967, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1997, 2001, 2003 (2003 is the latest vintage) That’s it.So what in the world makes this style of wine so special?  So rare?  We will discuss the dessert wine production of how dessert wine in Sauternes are designed.


Dessert Wine Production Process

During the growing season, the grape varietals Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle, and Semillon will endure the right amount of humidity in the air, sunlight and cool temperatures during the growing season which creates a phenomena fungus called Botrytis Cinerea. This “fungus” creeps inside the grapes and then sucks away all of the water. The sugars are not affected, which creates a more concentrated sweetness when the grapes become wine.

The grapes then go through the pressing (separating juice from skin) and go through fermentation (Converting sugar into alcohol).


Typical Sauternes Flavor Profile

Color:                                    gold to dark gold

Fruit Aromas:                     dry pear, dry apricot, lemon

Non-Fruit Aromas:          ginger, honey

Finish:                                   full bodied (slightly syrupy) with little alcohol warmth and salivation from its acidity. Pronounced sweet ginger, lemon, and honey finish. The finale of the wine is very elegant and the flavor dances in your mouth for over ten minutes.  Tastes like heaven to me!

Sweet baby Jesus! I wish one day I could be in the Chateau d’Yquem winery when that perfect vintage is in production. I can’t wait to be rich enough to be like George Washington and buy 30 dozen bottles for my personal collection. I probably wouldn’t want the wooded teeth to go with it. Do yourself a favor and brush your teeth while checking out the Chateau d’Yquem winery here: LEARN ME!

Message only to Mom:  I brush my teeth every day and the amount of money you spent on my teeth while being a late bloomer did not go to waste. 


Mario Luna

Certified Sommelier

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