Vinopolpick Thursday – March 13th

March 13, 2014
Leoville Bordeaux

St. Julien is a tiny yet important appellation within on the left bank of Bordeaux.  It is also the home of the Leoville trio of estates: Chateaux Leoville Las Cases, Chateau Leoville Poyferre and Chateau Leoville Barton.  The three estates were originally one (Domaine de Leoville) that was owned by the Marquis du Leoville.  It was split during the French Revolution and before the 1855 classification.  All three are classified as second growth estates. 

Chateau Leoville Barton is a 112 acre estate managed by Anthony Barton and his daughter Lilian.  Barton is of Irish descent, his ancestors left Ireland in 1725 and purchased the land in 19th century.  He was involved in managing the estate during the 50s and 60s and became the sole manager in 1983 when the owner, his uncle, donated the property to him.  The vineyards are clay topped with gravelly soil.  Their typical blend consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.  The wines are aged in wooden vats, some of which date to 1963.  As a traditional style Bordeaux, it takes many years to reach its full potential and most vintages can be cellared for decades.  

Chateau Leoville Las Cases is the largest of the three at over 240 acres and is run by Jean-Hubert Delon, the son of the previous owner Michel.  The estate includes the original walled enclosure from the Domaine and is composed of approximately 3/5 of the original estate.  It is named after the original family that owned the estate until Delon’s great-great-grandfather, Théophile Skawinski, purchased it and became manager in 1900.  The soil is Quaternary gravel of varying depth over clay and sand.  Their typical blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a small portion of Petit Verdot.  Their style is complex and concentrated with long aging potential.  

Chateau Leoville Poyferre was once the most highly regarded of the three Leoville estates, until it went into decline after WWII.  Didier Cuvelier, an accountant and partial owner, took over management of the estate in the late 1970s when he discovered how poorly it was being run.  Since 1994, Michael Rolland has assisted in the wine making.  They have expanded the area under vine to almost 200 acres.  The vines are planted on thin gravel soil above the Aquitaine basin of the Medoc.  Their blend typically consists of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and small portions of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.  Their wine over the past decade is considered to be the most stylistically elegant of the three, principally due to its lighter tannins.  It offers a rich perfume without being over-extracted.

100+ bottles of Leoville!:

Chateau Leoville Barton Saint Julien 2003 ($229.95) $133 special, 19 bottles available
Wine Spectator 98 points
 “Intense blackberry and cherry, with hints of currant. Toasted oak and sweet tobacco too. Roses and other flowers, such as lilacs. Full-bodied, with masses of tannins yet incredibly long and seductive. Best after 2012.”

Chateau Leoville Barton Saint Julien 2009 ($199.95) $119 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Spectator #6 TOP 100 2012 95 points
“This is powerful Cabernet, with gutsy weight, but also polished feel to the fresh plum, warm blackberry sauce, bittersweet ganache and roasted apple wood notes. Long and tarry through the finish, but still invigorating despite its heft. Needs some time to round fully into form. Best from 2017 through 2035. Tasted twice, with consistent notes.”

Chateau Leoville Las Cases St Julien 2003 ($279.95) $166 special, 9 bottles available
Wine Spectator 97 points 
“Incredible nose of crushed berry, licorice, violets and lightly toasted oak. Pure crème de cassis. Full-bodied, with big, velvety tannins and a long, long finish. Solid. Best after 2011.”

Chateau Leoville Las Cases St Julien 2005 ($449.95) $299 special, 3 bottles available
Wine Spectator 100 points
 “This is breathtaking. Black in color, with incredible aromas of crushed blackberry, mineral, licorice and lead pencil. Full-bodied, with a mind-blowing texture of seamless tannins that coat every millimeter of the palate. Goes on and on, with licorice, currant and flowers. Time will tell if it’s better than the 2000”

Chateau Leoville Las Cases St Julien 2006 ($249.95) $149 special, 1 bottle available
Robert Parker 95 points 
“Not surprisingly, Leoville Las Cases has produced another classic, potentially long-lived wine in 2006. Among the St.-Juliens, it, Ducru Beaucaillou, and Leoville Barton possess the potential for the greatest longevity. Interestingly, when I visited this chateau in January, proprietor Jean-Hubert Delon offered me two samples, one where the cork had been pulled immediately prior to tasting, and another that had been decanted four hours earlier. Both were superb, but the wine that had had extended aeration was clearly the finer offering. The opaque purple-hued 2006- only 40% of the crop made it into the final blend- exhibits a personality that mimics the superb 1996. Classic aromas of sweet black raspberries, kirsch, cassis, and subtle toasty oak are followed by a full-bodied, concentrated wine displaying moderately high tannin. This cuvee can often resemble a Pauillac wrapped in the St.-Julien appellation, and the 2006 is no exception. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc, it will require significant cellaring before consumption. Anticipated maturity: 2019-2035+.”

Chateau Leoville Poyferre St Julien 2010 375ML ($149.95) $79 special, 13 bottles available
Chateau Leoville Poyferre St Julien 2010 ($249.95) $149 special, 30 bottles available
Robert Parker 98+ points
 “The wine out distances both Leoville Las Cases and Leoville Barton, but all three of them are compelling efforts. Full-bodied, dense purple in color, with floral notes intermixed with blackberries, cassis, graphite and spring flowers, this full-bodied, legendary effort is long and opulent, with wonderfully abundant yet sweet tannin, a skyscraper-like mid-palate and a thrilling, nearly one-minute finish. This spectacular effort from Poyferre that should drink well for 30+ years.” 

Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint Julien 2009 3L ($1,799.95) $1,499 pre-arrival special, 6 3L bottles available
PRE-ARRIVAL OFFER ETA MAY 2014 Robert Parker 100 points
 “One of the more flamboyant and sumptuous wines of the vintage, this inky/purple-colored St.-Julien reveals thrilling levels of opulence, richness and aromatic pleasures. A soaring bouquet of creme de cassis, charcoal, graphite and spring flowers is followed by a super-concentrated wine with silky tannins, stunning amounts of glycerin, a voluptuous, multilayered mouthfeel and nearly 14% natural alcohol. Displaying fabulous definition for such a big, plump, massive, concentrated effort, I suspect the tannin levels are high even though they are largely concealed by lavish amounts of fruit, glycerin and extract. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2040”

And a few of the other stellar Bordeaux here now:

Chateau La Clemence Pomerol 2000 ($99.95) $59 special, 3+ cases available
Robert Parker 91 points 
“This looks to be the strongest effort to date from the Dauriac-Rolland team. Deep, opaque purple-colored, with a tight but promising nose of truffles, licorice, underbrush, incense, and black fruits, this big, huge, dense, full-bodied Pomerol shows no compromising for readers looking for something immediately drinkable. As the French would say, a true vin de garde. This backstrapping, muscular wine is loaded, but patience is most definitely a virtue. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2022+.”

Bellevue Mondotte St Emilion 2003 ($499.95) $239 special, 16 bottles available
Robert Parker 98 points
 “An exquisite jewel in Chantal and Gerard Perse’s Right Bank empire, Bellevue-Mondotte is a tiny, 5-acre parcel of 45-year-old vines planted on the limestone plateau above Pavie-Decesse and Pavie-Macquin. It is composed of 90% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. I tasted the 2003 on three separate occasions, one of which merited a three-digit rating. Sadly, there are only 4,000 bottles of this prodigious effort. Possessing relatively high alcohol (14.5%) for a Bordeaux, it is an amazing blend made from 15 hectoliters per hectare. A dense, viscous-looking purple color is accompanied by a sweet perfume of blackberries, espresso roast, fried lard, and pain grille. Full-bodied and massively rich with decent acidity and plenty of structure as well as tannin, this youthful 2003 should hit its stride in 3-5 years, and last for three decades. This may be what the great 1929s or 1947s tasted like at age three.”

Calon Segur Saint Estephe 2009 ($179.95) $99 special, 13 bottles available
Wine Spectator 93-96 points, Robert Parker 94+ points 
“The 2009 has the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (90%) ever included in a Calon-Segur (the rest is Merlot and Petit Verdot). Completely different from its St.-Estephe brethren, it is more backward and structured with a dense purple color, lots of black cherry, black currant, loamy earth, forest floor and spice notes, excruciatingly high levels of tannin, and a wonderful inner core of sweetness and concentration. It could behave like the 1982, which, at age 30, is just becoming mature. The 2009 is an uncompromising, masculine, massive style of wine that needs 15-20 years of cellaring even in this luscious, flashy, flamboyant vintage. It is super-tight and needs lots of coaxing and aeration. Anticipated maturity: 2025-2050+.”

Chateau Beauregard Pomerol 1998 ($99.95) $79 special, 19 bottles available
Wine Spectator 92 points 
“A subtle yet rich Pomerol. Gorgeous, with intense aromas of black licorice, berry and black olive. Full-bodied, with superfine tannins and a long, long finish. Best after 2007.”

Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere St Emilion 2010 ($179.95) $149 special, 27 bottles available
Wine Spectator 96 points #2 WOTY 2013 
“This takes the power of the vintage and puts it in its pocket for later, preferring instead to let mouthwatering briar, loganberry, mulberry and blackberry fruit strut its way forward, enlivened with roasted wood spice and supported by suavely but thoroughly embedded iron-tinged structure. Should cruise for two decades. Best from 2016 through 2035.”

Chateau Larmande Saint Emilion 2010 ($49.95) $39 special, 33 bottles available
Wine Spectator 92 points
 “Dense and slightly chewy in style, with a strong briary edge to the warm currant confiture and steeped black cherry fruit. A strong roasted alder note on the finish keeps the grippy feel going. This may ultimately lack finesse in the end, even after cellaring, but has some guts and character for sure. Best from 2015 through 2026.”

Chateau Pavie Decesse Saint Emilion 2003 ($199.95) $119 special, 12 bottles available
Robert Parker 96 points 
“Composed of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc (13.5% alcohol), the inky/purple-tinged 2003 exhibits an extraordinary bouquet of crushed rocks, white flowers, and red as well as black fruits. The most port-like of the 2003 Perse offerings, it is a sexy, opulent, viscous St.-Emilion with extraordinary density as well as an exotic, nearly over-the-top richness. It will be drinkable in 2-3 years, and last for 25 or more. This flamboyant, ostentatious wine is a brilliant tour de force in 2003 Bordeaux.”

Chateau Pavie Saint Emilion 2003 ($379.95) $249 special, 10 bottles available
Robert Parker 98+ points 
“This 92-acre vineyard, which enjoys an impeccable southern orientation, is composed of limestone on the upper slopes, clay and limestone in the middle, and sand and clay at the base. Proprietor Gerard Perse, who has done a brilliant job since acquiring the estate in 1998, continues to push the envelope of quality to higher and higher heights. Planted with 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, the grapes receive kid glove treatment with hand-harvesting into small plastic lugs, two triage tables, and aging for 28 months in 100% new oak that is purchased in advance, then air-dried and coopered according to Perse’s specifications. In short, the man is a perfectionist, and the quality of all the estates he owns has soared dramatically.”

Chateau Pontet Canet Pauillac 2003 ($219.95) $119 special, 24 bottles available
Robert Parker 95 points
 “One cannot say enough about the labors of proprietor Alfred Tesseron, who has personally overseen the dramatic increase in quality of the wines at Pontet-Canet which started in a significant manner with 1994. This is a classic Pauillac-styled wine (meaning oodles of cassis flavors), as one might expect from a vineyard on the plateau of Pauillac, across the street from Mouton-Rothschild.”

Cos D’Estournel St-Estephe 2003 ($399.95) $199 special, 11 bottles available
Robert Parker 98 points
 “The prodigious, fantastic 2003 Cos d’Estournel is a candidate for ‘wine of the vintage.’ A blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon (unusually high for this chateau), 30% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc, 17,500 cases were produced from low yields. “An inky/blue/purple color is accompanied by a compelling perfume of black fruits, subtle smoke, pain grille, incense, and flowers. With extraordinary richness, full body, and remarkable freshness, elegance, and persistence, this is one of the finest wines ever made by this estate. The good news is that it will be drinkable at a young age yet evolve for three decades or more. Kudos to winemaker Jean-Guillaume Prats and owner Michel Reybier.”

Deyrem Valentin Margaux 2010 ($49.95) $33 special, 3+ cases available
Wine Enthusiast 92 points 
“Located north of Margaux village, Deyrem Valentin is a small, family-owned property of 32 acres that represents one of the values of Margaux. This wine is smooth, polished and concentrated, with flavors of wood and a sweet-tasting blackberry. The acidity and tannins demonstrate a fine balancing act. This shows good aging potential.”

Ducru Beaucaillou St Julien 2009 ($499.95) $319 special, 19 bottles available
Robert Parker 100 points 
“The 2009 Ducru Beaucaillou will eclipse the brilliant wines produced in 2005, 2003 and 2000. It will be interesting to see how the 2009 fares against the 2010 after twenty years of aging, but my money is on the 2009. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot that achieved 13.5% natural alcohol, this inky purple, unctuous wine possesses classic aromas of graphite, creme de cassis, blueberries, violets, licorice and Christmas fruitcake. Full-bodied and intense with Ducru’s inimitable elegance and purity, it should firm up in the bottle after 7-10 years of cellaring and last for 40-50 years. Magnificent!”

Figeac St. Emilion 2005 ($189.95) $139 special, 15 bottles available
Wine Spectator 95 points
 “This is subtle and complex, showing blackberry, fresh tobacco and light vanilla, with a hint of Indian spices. Full-bodied, with super well-integrated tannins and a finish that lasts for minutes. Refined and classy. The best modern wine from this producer. Best after 2015.”

Larcis-Ducasse St Emilion 2010 ($179.95) $99 special, 22 bottles available
Robert Parker 98+ points
 “The wine boasts 14.6% natural alcohol and is a final blend of roughly three-fourths Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc, cropped at a ridiculously low 19 hectoliters per hectare. Notes of licorice, garrigue, incense, smoked meats, espresso, creme de cassis and blackberry liqueur jump from the glass of this unbelievably intense wine. Remarkably full, with compelling freshness and precision, this is a fabulous effort in 2010. It will probably close down over the next several years, and not re-emerge for at least a decade, something that often happens with the bigger, richer, more muscular St.-Emilions from the limestone hillsides and plateaux. This is one of the superstars of the vintage and a profound wine. Drink it between 2020 and 2045”

Le Gay Pomerol 2009 ($199.95) $119 special, 23 bottles available
Robert Parker 96+ points
 “Tiny yields of 25 hectoliters per hectare and a final blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc have produced an enormously concentrated, black/purple-colored wine exhibiting notes of roasted meats, smoked game, blackberries, coffee, incense and forest floor. This distinctive, large-scaled, viscous, thick Pomerol may be as concentrated as some of this estate’s all-time classics (1947 and 1950). I am puzzled by why I could not see this a few years ago. In any event, this is one of the most profound Le Gay’s ever produced. Forget it for at least a decade and drink it over the following half century.”

Saint Pierre Saint Julien 2009 ($179.95) $119 special, 35 bottles available
Robert Parker 98 points
 “The all-time greatest wine I have ever tasted from Saint-Pierre, this estate, the smallest of the grand cru classes of St.-Julien, has an opaque purple color and a spectacular nose of subtle charcoal, creme de cassis, blackberry, and incense. Full-bodied, with striking intensity and flamboyantly rich, exuberant flavors bursting with extract, the St. Pierre has no hard edges, but rather massive, incredibly well-endowed blockbuster style, which should prove to be monumental. Give it 6-8 years to take on more definition and calm down, but this is a 30- to 40-year wine. Bravo!”

Vieux Chateau Certan Pomerol 2009 ($499.95) $289 special, 2 bottles available
Robert Parker 99 points 
“The 2009’s nearly 14% natural alcohol, exquisite ripeness, and incredible complex bouquet of Asian spices, fruitcake, licorice, smoke, blackberries and black currants are to die for. A blend of 84% Merlot and the rest equal parts Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, it possesses a viscous texture as well as a freshness and vibrancy that are remarkable given the wine’s weight, richness and potential massiveness. This extraordinary effort is one of the finest Vieux Chateau Certans made over the last sixty years. It will undoubtedly shut down in bottle, requiring a decade or more of cellaring. It should keep for 50 years thereafter. Proprietor Thienpont thinks it is a modern day version of the 1948.”