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Bordeaux 2014: Château Léoville Poyferré

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_6730Château Léoville Poyferré is one of the most sure-footed, top quality red wines in Bordeaux. The recent run of form here has been remarkable. The property occupies one of the three top spots in St Julien. It ranks alongside Château Léoville-Las-Cases and Château Ducru Beaucaillou qualitatively though, being more keenly priced, it represents better value than both these properties. 2014 is an exciting vintage here. The wine is structured, taut and precise and has formidable levels of concentration. Didier Cuvelier compares it to the 2005 and 2006. This is exciting as Léoville Poyferré 2005 tasted during my primeurs visit is excellent. It is just entering what will be a very long and satisfying drinking window.

The property reports a wet and mild winter in 2013/2014 followed by a warm May and a hot June. August was cool, marked by low but regular rainfall, which slowed down ripening, such that veraison [colour change in the grapes] was late and relatively protracted. The beautiful September weather turned round prospects considerably from a qualitative point-of-view, and the hot weather enabled the harvest of ripe, healthy fruit. Wind and dry weather in this period also reduced juice yield and further concentrated the vintage. Harvest started 1 October for the Merlots, with the Cabernets picked between October 6-14, dates that roughly coincide with the 2001 vintage.

Château Léoville Poyferré hasn’t disappointed for me in the period 2011-2013 – both 2011 and 2012 are excellent – but I reckon 2014 pips these as the best wine since the legendary 2009/2010 combo here. It may very well equal the 2005 as Didier Cuvelier suggests. Time will tell. The price is not much up on 2012, and for me it’s a more potentially more concentrated wine. Liv-Ex’s analysis is an interesting read on Poyferré’s price in the markets – the 2011 currently looks something of a steal…

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Château Moulin Riche is made in the same cellar with the same winemaking team from a separate 22 hectare property in St Julien further inland. It is not to be confused with the second wine of Léoville Poyferré, Pavillon de Poyferré. Moulin Riche looks to be a successful St Julien in 2014, with the sleek polish and refinement you find in the wines here. I’ll report separately on Château Le Crock, the Cuvelier property in St Estèphe, when I get round to that appellation shortly [pressure of work has prevented me from publish these primeurs reviews sooner this year….]. The 2009 Moulin Riche that was served at lunch at Léoville Poyferré [it hosted the UGC St Julien tastings] was a brilliant glass of wine, beautiful already.

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Finally: Léoville Poyferré 2005. This is a glorious wine that is just starting to show all the wonderful complexity of a great St Julien. It clearly has decades of life ahead of it, but it is just beginning to show the tobacco and cigarbox notes that are so inviting in the best wines here. There is great depth to the palate with plenty of nicely handled fruit and ripe, sophisticated tannins. You can drink it now if you must, but it will evolve even more beautifully over the next ten years, and then hold for ten more I’d expect.

The following wines were tasted at the property on Monday, 30th March, 2015.

Château Moulin Riche, St Julien, 2014

Mid depth; little loser at the rim than Poyferré; ripe seam of fruit on the nose; black cherry notes; minerality again; tautness – though more open a fraction than its sibling; opens up a bit in the glass; black cherry; graphite and cassis notes with some wood on the palate; wood needs to integrate; good length and matter; wood on the finish too. Fruit tip-top and will come together very nicely. [53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, 12.6% alc, IPT 70, TA 3.3, pH3.81]. Drink 2019-2028. Tasted at Léoville Poyferré 30 March, 2015. 89-91+

Château Léoville Poyferré, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2014

Deep and saturated look; earthy purple meniscus; legs; opaque at centre; substantial; little brooding at first; seam of blackcurrants and cassis on aeration with minerality; formidable; opens up on the aromas; quite fat fruit beneath; fine palate; bold fruit but nicely precise; structured and taut at present; early start but has concentration and length. Excellent length in fact. Usual story of precise fruit and polished tannins. This will fill out. Didier Cuvelier feels it is akin to 2005 and 2006. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, 13.25% alc, IPT 86, TA 3.45, pH 3.71]. Drink 2025-2035. Tasted at Léoville Poyferré 30 March, 2015. 93-95+

Château Léoville Poyferré, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2005

Dark at centre; red at edge; maturing; wonderful St Julien aromatics; top, top draw; cigar box; tobacco; spices and blackcurrant notes; approaching maturity on the nose; blackcurrants on the palate; spices and nicely intense; excellent length here with much still to reveal. Real density of extract but tannins ripe and sophisticated. Blackcurrant fruit on the finish. Terrific stuff! [68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2015-2035. Tasted at Léoville Poyferré 30 March, 2015. 96+

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