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International A list wowed by ancient Yquem

The Queen’s nephew Lord Linley, Beatles producer George Martin, and a former president of Mexico were among the guests at an extraordinary tasting of Chateau d’Yquem last night.

Yquem president Pierre Lurton hosted the tasting, to launch what is billed as the most complete vertical collection of the chateau ever put together.

Stephen Williams of the London-based Antique Wine Company has amassed every vintage of the legendary Sauternes from 1860.

And he commissioned furniture designer David Linley – son of the Queen’s late sister Princess Margaret and a highly-rated furniture designer – to build two £50,000 cabinets to house the collection.

Last night he gathered an eclectic group of wine-loving celebrities, millionaire businessmen, Russian financiers, aristocrats and politicians – including Carlos Salinas de Gortari, president of Mexico from 1988 to 1994 – to blind taste seven vintages: the 1976, 1962, 1958, 1934, 1924, 1900 and 1893.

Lurton said he was delighted to see the wines, some of which he had never tasted. Admitting that he had not been spitting anything out, he went into raptures over several, but it was the 1900 which affected him most.

‘It has all the complexity of Yquem, all the synergy. It is a magic blending. It is voluptuous. This is a truly orgasmic wine,’ he said.

Sauternes expert John Salvi shared the platform with Lurton and expressed amazement over the youthfulness of the wines. Many in the audience marked the youthful 1962 as at least a 1980, for example.

The tasting took place at Linley’s showroom in Pimlico, London, surrounded by the designer’s exquisite – and thrillingly expensive – furniture and accessories.

Williams is aiming to sell the Yquem collection ‘in a privately arranged deal’, he said. He added £1m ‘would be a good price.’

It should not be difficult. This is a world in which a set of coasters can cost £250, a beautifully inlaid jewellery box £2000, and a cocktail cabinet £20,000.

Linley himself said of the Yquem cabinets, which were made in England of American black walnut, ‘They will suit all locations – your London house, your place in the country. They would go very well in a Manhattan loft.’

Written by Adam Lechmere

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