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Winter: Winter 1987-1988 was very mild and wet.
Spring: The rain continued and even caused flooding.
Summer: From mid-June onwards, the rain gave way to droughtlike conditions which lasted several months. Flowering occurred under very good conditions, which lasted for the rest of the growing season.
The grapes were ripe by September 25th.
Early September was very hot, preventing botrytis from developing fully.
The first wave of picking started on September 29th and finished two days later. The intense heat meant that the second wave was delayed until October 17th, and finished on October 22nd.
Although the weather was not very conducive to the spread of botrytis, the grapes quickly became very rich and concentrated. The third wave started on October 24th and finished on the 29th. The number of grapes was very high.
The fourth wave of picking started on November 2nd, and combined both quantity and quality (the amount of grapes harvested daily nearly broke all previous records).
Even though the following two waves (the first lasting from November 7-10 and the second from November 14-16) took place quite late, they enabled us to pick perfectly ripe, botrytised grapes. This was indeed an excellent end to the 1988 vintage at Chateau d'Yquem.
1988 was a very unusual year in that the dry weather could have caused botrytis to develop very slowly. However, noble rot developed uniformly and consistently, so that grapes from all six waves were of very high quality.
TASTING NOTES BY THE YQUEM TEAM
Brilliant golden colour with orange highlights.
Bouquet initially waxy, followed by strong floral hints. Altogether elegant, although slightly closed and discreet at this stage.
Very silky on the palate. Round, but with good acidity. Very soft and well-balanced. Very elegant, with a fairly strong taste of dried apricot. Impressively long aftertaste.
Wine AdvocateThe 1988 is a backward-styled Yquem, built along the lines of the extraordinary 1975. With a honeyed, smoky, orange/coconut/pineapple-scented nose, this powerful wine possesses full body, layers of highly concentrated, extracted flavors, considerable botrytis, and a sensational finish.
Wine SpectatorLots of of beeswax, botrytis spice and honey, with hints of toffee. Full-bodied, very sweet, thick and layered. Caramel, toffee, spice. Molasses too. Very, very powerful. Muscular and rich. Fabulous Sauternes. Nothing comes close in this vintage.-'88/'98 Bordeaux retrospective (2008). Drink now.