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Bordeaux 2014: St Julien

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_6785St 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.

St Julien is the most consistent and homogeneous appellation in all Bordeaux. It is comparatively small, which no doubt helps. While there are no official ‘first growths’ here, there is no doubt that all three Léovilles [Las Cases and Poyferré especially] along with Ducru can often operate at this level. Saint-Pierre is only fractionally behind this pack [and often up with them in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014], along with Gruaud Larose which is resurgent in recent vintages. For the consumer the wines to look out for are Gloria and Lalande Borie, both are very enjoyable, forward St Juliens which are usually well-priced. Gloria is especially good for the money.

Most properties have priced 2014s higher than 2013 and 2012. 2014 is undoubtedly a superior vintage to both, though 2012 gets better every time you look at it. Whether you’d prefer to opt to pay for mature St Julien to drink now or tie up your money in 2014 for the next three years is up to you. Of recent vintages, 2005 is just starting to open, while 2006, 2007 and 2008 are all starting to drink nicely.

The following wines were tasted at the UGC event held at Château Léoville Poyferré, at the Grand Cercle event in St Emilion and at the châteaux themselves.

Château Beychevelle, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2014

Deep and saturated look; earthy purple at edge; ripeness on the nose; fresh cherry; little spice; menthol; bit worked feel; nice entry; soft and voluptuous on the palate [the blend is Merlot dominant]; nicely balanced; looser and softer style; some spicy blackcurrant fruit; certain raisin element; elegant finish. 51% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 50% new oak; harvest dates 25/9-14/10. Drink 2020-2030. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 89-91+

Château Branaire-Ducru, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2014

Mid depth; deepish core; fresh blackcurrant fruit; cool and clean; perfumed elements; fresh and very pure; nicely unadorned; really like this style; nicely proportional and with good acid; expect this Branaire to fill out; concentration here but nicely handled; plenty of flesh and will fill out nicely. Stylish St Julien with good length. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot; 2% Cabernet Franc. Drink 2020-2035. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 91-93

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Grand Cru Classe, St Julien, 2014.

Deep and saturated colour; tight to the rim; purple at edge; lovely Cabernet fruit; blackcurrant, cassis; lifted and very attractive; black cherry notes too; plenty of fruit on the palate and considerable depth; concentration here but also acidity and vibrant fruit; blackcurrant and cassis tones; some spice; very fresh; chewy finish but ripe tannins. Complex wine. Substantial. [90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 13.5alc, TA 3.65, pH 3.81, IPT 81, 100% new oak]. Drink 2022-2035. 94-96+

Château du Glana, St Julien, 2014

Deep and saturated; glossy; opaque at centre; some smoke; sturdy; blackcurrant cassis beneath; some violet lift; chalky note; fruit; solid feel; gutsy; plenty of fruit and texture. Bite on the finish. Vigorous. Drink 2017-2025. Tasted Grand Cercle, 29 March, 2015. 86-88

Château Gloria, St Julien, 2014

Deep and darkly coloured; fresh and vivid earthy purple at edge; equally vivid blackcurrant fruit; lift; cassis; vibrant and vivid St Julien; real joie de vivre here in Gloria; caressing blackcurrant fruit with some ripe black cherry notes; lashings of fruit here; velvety palate; Excellent effort from this joyful St Julien. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot. 45% new oak. Drink 2019-2030. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 90-92+

Grande Réserve Croix de Beaucaillou, St Julien, 2014

Deep and saturated colour; depth; vibrant colour at edge; blackcurrant perfume; lively; aromatic; lifted; very bright fruit on the nose; lots of flavour and matter and extract on the mid-palate; lots of fruit here; good concentration and lively freshness. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 13.25alc, TA 3.59, pH 3.76, IPT 78, 60% new oak]. Drink 2019-2030. 90-92

Château Gruaud Larose, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2014

Deep and saturated colour; purple at edge; pure Cabernet; freshness; clean and pure; lovely blackcurrant aromatics and perfume; showing wonderfully on the day; very polished; complete and round on the palate; very attractive vintage for Gruaud Larose; caressing wine; yet also structured with fresh acids on the finish. 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot. Drink 2020-2035. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 91-93+

Château Lagrange, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2014

Deep and saturated look; purple at edge; fresh looking; resinous nose; some fruitcake notes; little VA lift; blackcurrants; some liquorice; bit chewy and sinewy in the middle; feels extracted by comparison – at least meaner…not that attractive at present. Shortish finish too. What’s happening at Lagrange. Recent set of vintages have been hard going early on. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot 13.5% alc. Drink 2020-2030. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 86-88

Château Lalande Borie, St Julien, 2014

Deep and saturated look; lovely Cabernet aromatics; stalky blackcurrants but some strawberry notes; really positive and fresh with some perfume; blackcurrants on the palate; really vibrant; crunchy acids and textured palate; plenty of flesh and matter here – perfumed and blackcurrant. This is excellent and classic. [50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 13.45 alc, TA 3.57, pH 3.76, IPT 74, 30 new oak]. Drink 2019-2028. 88-90+

Château Langoa Barton, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2014

Deep colour; opaque at centre; purple at edge; ripe fruit; ripe plums; spices and some black cherry notes; lots of fruit; nice entry to the palate; extract, matter; some tightness but I like the tension; perhaps a little too much new oak on the finish presently. Probably will fill out. 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc. 13.5% alc; 60% new oak. Harvest dates 25/9 – 8/10. Drink 2020-2030. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 89-91+

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

Deep and dark; saturated at centre; colour tight to the rim; deep blackcurrant aromatics; some cassis; blackcurrant aromatics really open up in the glass; cool entry to the palate; nicely balanced; pure; lots of matter and extract; good concentration; nicely measured and proportional; grip and density on the finish. Excellent Léoville Barton. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 60% new oak. Drink 2023-2035. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 92-94

Château Léoville-Las-Cases, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2014

Deep and saturated colour; opaque; pure blackcurrant aromatics; some cassis; wonderful purity; creamy notes; blackcurrant fruit; some black cherry then there is oak; little dominant on the palate but will fill out; lots of texture and fruit; balanced; material and density but also balance. Really nicely done. [79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 33hl/ha, 85% new oak, 3.49 pH, TA 4.11 13.8% alc, IPT 70.] Drink 2025-2035. Tastes at Las-Cases 30 March, 2015. 94-95+

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

Deep and saturated look; lots of fruit and matter on the nose; spices; fruitcake notes; focused and precision; crushed rocks and the lift from the new oak; lots of matter on the palate; spices; menthol notes; blackcurrants; olives; concentrated and formidable. Great length and extract but tannins ripe. Lots of depth and matter here. Drink 2025-2035. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 93-95 [Rarlier note] 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. Feels akin to 2005. [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

Clos du Marquis, St Julien, 2014

Deep and bold colour; fresh purple at edge; saturated; focused and saturated fruit; core here on the nose; bold statement; cassis and blackcurrant tones; some graphite too; layered; cool entry on the palate; very nice fruit; purity here [which defines this place]; depth and structure but plenty of cool flesh; tannins ripe and nice chew at the back; blackcurrants notes on the finish. Very good length. [74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 33hl/ha, 50% new barrels, 13.85% alc, 3.97 TA, 3.63 pH, ITP 68]. Drink 2023-2035. Tasted Las-Cases 30 March, 2015. 91-93+

Château Moulin Riche, St Julien, 2014

Mid depth; little loser at the rim; ripe seam of fruit on the nose; black cherry notes; minerality again; tautness – though more open a fraction than LP; 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. [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+

Le Petit Lion, St Julien, 2014

Deeply coloured; tightish to rim; vivid purple; creamy blackcurrants; fresh with some black cherry; graphite; blackcurrants; sturdy palate; nice core of fruit; [label created in 2007]; elegant finish. Good stuff. [57% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc 33hl/ha, 30% new oak, 14.2% alc, TA 3.97, 3.55pH, IPT 62]. Drink 2022-2027. Tasted Las-Cases 30 March, 2015. 87-89+

Château Saint Pierre, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2014

Deeply coloured; tight to the rim; vibrant at edge; beautiful Cabernet on the nose; cassis and blackcurrant notes; very pure and perfumed too; beautiful cabernet on the palate; really caressing and nicely judged; cool and layered with depth but great precision. Fabulous length and extract. Acidity balanced. 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc. 50% new oak. Harvest dates 25-29/9 for Merlot, 6-10/10 for Cabernets. Drink 2022-2035. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 93-95+

Château Talbot, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2014

Deep and saturated colour; opaque; tight to rim; blackcurrants and black fruits; some spices and freshness also; lacks some of the concentration of the best on the palate; but very clean and will flesh out nicely; this is impressive infant Talbot; pure and fresh. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot. Drink 2024-2030. Tasted UGC 31 March, 2015. 90-91+


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