There is no doubt that St Julien has made extremely good wine in 2015. Purity and balance are the hallmarks here. Whether this vintage eventually serves as the best vintage since the 2009 and 2010 combination, will depend on the progress in barrel of the 2014 vintage. This was a vintage that impressed me last year in St Julien. It is certainly better value compared with 2015 given this year’s release prices. While 2015 definitely has the edge in quality, does it command the 20%-50%+ mark up over the previous vintage here? I’m not so sure. Only time will tell. Let’s just say that prices this year are decidedly firm!
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Branaire-Ducru’
St Julien offers purity and clarity in 2014. The wines show beautiful blackcurrant tones and are fresh and vivid. The best have very good length and structure. Tannins are sophisticated and ripe. Some properties are comparing the vintage to 2005 and 2006, and, while the wines don’t quite have the weight and concentration of 2009 and 2010, they are nevertheless vivacious and appealing. Top of the list are Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Château Léoville-Las-Cases, Château Léoville Poyferré and Château Saint-Pierre. Right behind are Château Gruaud Larose, Château Branaire-Ducru, Clos du Marquis and Château Léoville Barton. Château Gloria and Château Lalande Borie are excellent and offer good value for the consumer.
Tuesday’s 2014 primeurs tastings started at Château Palmer [pictured – but not in that weather – grey and drizzly] and continued with the UGC Margaux event at Château Dauzac. The wines generally showed a lot of very vivacious and attractive fruit with vibrant acidity and there was more homogeneity than usual. Palmer and Alter Ego looked good with plenty of texture and fruit. Château Margaux tasted later felt classical and proportional. Pavillon Blanc looks excellent [many of the 2014 whites are very good indeed]. Overall in Margaux there is much to compare with 2008 in terms of freshness and 2012 in terms of fruit, though more so, and at the top level 2014 appears to be better than both vintages. Tastings at the UGC event at Château Lamarque – where a large St Bernard was woofing at visitors from the ramparts of the château – were rewarding. There is a lot of fresh, juicy fruit and ripe tannin on display amongst the Haut-Médocs, and these should [hopefully] offer good value.
2010 is a very strong vintage in St Julien. The scale and grandeur of the wines, evident during primeurs and after bottling is still apparent. These are big scaled, long-term St Juliens that, once again, provide an exciting counterpoint to the heavenly, enticing wines made here in 2009. Unlike that vintage, 2010 still has much to reveal, and a number of wines are comparatively quite backward. The Léovilles are impressive here as ever. There is an exceptional effort from Château Léoville Poyferré, a currently rather backward but nevertheless impressively concentrated Château Léoville-Las-Cases and, a fraction behind, a very classical Château Léoville Barton. The real show stopper was a stand-out effort from Château Saint-Pierre which is wonderfully seductive. Château Langoa Barton, though a notch or two down from this, is very impressive. Classical and nicely composed wines have been made at Château Beychevelle, Château Branaire-Ducru, Château Lagrange and Château Talbot.
2012 has produced mid-weight, neat and polished wines in St Julien that are relatively restrained. There is more flesh here than in 2011, a vintage that was leaner and more angular at the same stage, and there is more generosity too in 2012 than in 2013. The appellation is pretty homogeneous [as you’d expect] with Château Léoville Poyferré and Château St Pierre as the standouts amongst the wines shown. Château Gruaud Larose also continues a good run of recent form whilst Château Léoville Barton is classically fresh and bracing.
For me St Julien performed better than expected in 2013. Things were a little drier here than elsewhere in the Médoc and perhaps this, combined with the typical homogeneity of the appellation, has made the wines close to satisfying. Depending on the estate, the quality probably lies somewhere between the 2011 and 2007 vintages, perhaps even toward 2008 in a few cases. Château Léoville-Las-Cases, Château Léoville Poyferré and Château Ducru-Beaucaillou top the appellation. There are good efforts too from siblings Château Léoville Barton and Château Langoa Barton, as well as Château Branaire-Ducru. Overall there’s plenty of grip and sap to the wines, some are chewy currently, but in general they should work out in the medium term.