St Julien produces wine typically of high quality and in a consistent style. This is true of its wines in 2017. In terms of the left bank, it feels like the high point for me in this vintage on this side of the Gironde. Château Branaire Ducru has succeeded well and the Léovilles are very good as you’d expect. Amongst the Barton stable, there is a wonderfully fresh Château Langoa Barton and a very complete, and serious, Château Léoville Barton. Château Léoville Poyferré feels somewhat pent up but it is evidently concentrated with great texture. Siblings Château Gloria and Château St Pierre are both fantastic. What a marvel Gloria always is and St Pierre tops the lot, admittedly in a field sans Ducru and Las Cases. Château Beychevelle also looks impressive in 2017 for the vintage. Good wines have also been made by Château Gruaud Larose, Château Talbot and Château Lagrange, though they lack the depth of the very best. Still this is a particular achievement for Lagrange whose crop was especially affected by the April frost.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Léoville Barton’
2017’s a funny old vintage in Bordeaux. It feels to me like this year is the least successful of the past decade, assuming we forget about the washout 2013 vintage. That’s not to say that there aren’t a number wines that are really impressive now that the 2017s are in bottle. Last October’s annual Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux tasting in London showed some excellent wines in Pomerol and St Emilion, perhaps more so than in the other communes, but there were fine wines to be found in all the appellations. That said many lacked a bit of charm, seemed somewhat austere and lacked mid-palate concentration. Yes, they are fresh. Yes, the acidity is bright and some have a decent zap about them, but, overall, it’s hardly a vintage that sets the pulse racing. The same couldn’t be said for the experience that the vignerons themselves faced in the early part of the growing season in 2017 when devastating frosts wiped out entire crops in St Emilion and Pomerol and did much damage elsewhere, notably in parts of Pessac-Léognan and the Haut-Médoc. Some properties didn’t make any wine at all. It was certainly a nerve-jangling time for growers. Looked in that light, perhaps we must actually see 2017 as something of a success.
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!
So what are the principal characteristics of the Bordeaux 2015 vintage? Firstly there is a real beauty to the fruit tones in the red wines this year. Time after time, especially on the Right Bank but also on the Left I kept writing ‘beautiful,’ ‘pretty,’ and ‘delicious.’ There is freshness, despite pretty high alcohols in the main. The vintage is almost a hypothetical blend of 2009 and 2010, but with less evident structure and weight than those vintages. For me it recalls 1985 in terms of that vintage’s early beauty and freshness – and ‘85 remains in great shape today. But the 2015 vintage is by no means homogeneous. In fact there is considerable variability. What is in no doubt is that ‘15 is terrific in St Emilion. There is concentration and delight in so many wines there this year. It has also been strong vintage in the surrounding Côtes de Bordeaux appellation, especially Castillon and Francs.
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.