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Bordeaux 2015: St Julien

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0911There 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!

Beautiful wines undoubtedly been in 2015 at Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Château Leoville Barton, Château Léoville-Las-Cases and Château Léoville Poyferré. Château St Pierre is extremely impressive too and Clos du Marquis looks excellent. At the better value end you would certainly want to consider Château Gloria and Château Lalande Borie this year. Also Château Beychevelle and Château Branaire-Ducru look good, as does Lagrange after a string of middling efforts for me.

The real question as to whether to purchase this vintage en primeur depends on price. Unless consumers are suffering from collective amnesia, the 2015 pricing strategy appears to mirror 2009 after 2008. It’s perhaps not quite an accurate comparison – I think 2014 is by and large a superior vintage to 2008 – but even still the 2015 mark-ups, if not quite in the 2009 stratosphere, are overall far higher than the trade predicted [the 20% or so]. In fact, rises have widened as the campaign has continued [up to 50% in the case of Ducru Beaucaillou below]. There is no denying the beauty of the wines of St Julien in 2015, but the prices offered could have been much more attractive. Oh well…


The following wines were tasted at the châteaux indicated or at the UGCB event held at Château Gruaud Larose. By the way, at lunch at the property the 2003 Gruaud Larose showed well, as did the 2011. I was also impressed by the 2000 Sarget de Larose. It showed just how well Gruaud’s second wine can age in a fine vintage. The tannin was a bit rustic it but soon melted with a juicy cut of beef.

Château Beychevelle, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Deep colour; purple edge; attractive lifted fruits; nice fine Bordeaux aromatics; elegant palate; quite measured; has refinement. Very balanced and harmonious. Attractive Beychevelle. [47% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2022-2032. 91-93+

Château Branaire-Ducru, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Nice healthy colour; fresh purple at edge; bright fruit tones; alive; stylish Cabernet aromatics; spicy and appetizing; nice entry on the palate; attractive purity; pure blackcurrant tones; mineral notes on the finish; fresh. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2022-2032. 91-93+

La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou, St Julien

Lovely colour; lots of depth; dark at centre; healthy vibrant purple; perfume in the glass; cream; blackcurrants; ripe plum; wonderful mouthful too; concentrated yet supple and harmonious; this is extremely attractive young Bordeaux with a voluptuousness to the mid palate. Lovely. [52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, TA 3.18, pH 3.77 IPT 70, 60% new oak]. Drink 2022-2030. 93-95

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Deep and attractive looking in the glass; purple at edge; lovely pure Cabernet aromatics – simply adorable; perfumed and virtually perfect aromatically; creamy palate; full and voluptuously styled yet again; lovely ripe Cabernet here; beautiful wine; caressing and yet fresh; great length too. Considerable power and ripe tannin. Wonderful. One of the wines of the vintage on the left bank for me. [95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 13.4% alc, TA 3.07, pH 3.89, IPT 75, 100% new oak]. Drink 2023-2045. 95-97

Château Gloria, St Julien

Deep and saturated look; dark at centre; earthy purple at edge; little reductive at first but fresh and bright fruit beneath; opens up in the glass; enjoyable fruit on the palate; nice purity; black cherry and summer compote fruit notes; joyful St Julien. Plenty of fruit and depth overall. Grip on the finish. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 40% new oak]. Drink 2022-2030. 90-92+

Château Gruaud Larose, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Mid depth; dark core; purple edge; little dumb initially; fruit tones emerge on aeration; good fruit and acidity on the palate; needs to fill out a little. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc]. Drink 2023-2030. 90-92+

Château Lagrange, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Deep colour; fresh looking; creamy blackcurrant aromatics; attractive cassis notes; mid-weight on the palate; composed with attractive fruit; harmonious with ripe tannins. Best recent vintage here for me. [75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 13.2% alc]. Drink 2023-2032. 90-92+

Château Lalande-Borie, St Julien

Bold colour; vibrant edge; pretty wine, violet lift with ripe cherry and black fruit tones; fresh Bordeaux; supple palate; fresh and alive; harmonious with nice texture; good stuff! Appetising and balanced St Julien. This will drink well from the off. [55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% alc, TA 3.01, pH 3.8, IPT 65, 30% new oak]. Drink 2021-2028. 90-91+

Château Langoa Barton, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Deep and dark at centre; purple edge; fresh and creamy black cherry and blackcurrant notes; little tight initially; opens up; seam of blackcurrant fruit revealed beneath; excellent palate; intense blackcurrant notes; dry finish but tannins ripe. Should settle well. [54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 60% new oak, 13% alc]. 90-92+

Château Léoville-Barton, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Deep and opaque at centre; pure blackcurrant aromatics; attractive; composed; refined palate; fresh and nicely done; layers to the fruit; minerality; tannins ripe but need age to soften. Classical Leoville-Barton in that respect. Nice length. [86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 13% alc, 60% new oak]. Drink 2022-2035. 93-95+

Château Léoville Las Cases, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Opaque; colour tight to the rim; deep earthy purple at edge; lovely seam of blackcurrant fruit on the nose; really sits there up in front of you and begs you to drink it! More composed on the palate; tighter with interwoven oak; plenty of guts and matter and vibrant acidity; lots going on here; really good palate impression and finish; excellent length. [85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, 13.8% alc, TA 3.74, pH 3.70, IPT 76, 85% new oak]. Drink 2025-2045. 95-97+

Château Léoville Poyferré, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Deeper and concentrated; plenty of gloss and polish; very fine and concentrated aromatics; focused; minerality too; pent up as you’d expect; slowly opens up in the glass; floral note; blackcurrants; cassis tones; nice entry on the palate; wood integrated; chew and depth here; not a flashy wine but very complete with depth and elegance. Nice chew on the finish and matter. Very fine. Very good wine here. Very definitely a long term Poyferré – but harmony and balance here. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 13.5% alc, IPT 80, TA 3.45, pH 3.69]. Drink 2025-2040. 94-96+ [Additional note] Deep and saturated; ripe; fruitcake spices; menthol; layers of fruit on the nose; intense palate with lots of matter and density; extracted but the material excellent and the tannins ripe; chewy finish. Pretty long-term Léoville-Poyferré this. Tasted UGCB 5/4/16. 93-95+

Clos du Marquis, St Julien

Deep and saturated look; colour tight to the rim; lovely aromatics; layers and freshness; blackcurrants and cherry notes with dark chocolate hints – but very layered; nice fruit; really lots of flesh in the middle; extraction but nicely done; lots of nicely judged fruit; cherry and blackcurrants; freshness; nice freshness here. Beautiful Clos du Marquis. Nice tannins and good finish. Freshness but also lovely purity and life here. [66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.8% alc, TA 3.85, pH 3.67, IPT 67, 39hl/ha, IPT 67, 50% new oak]. Drink 2023-2035. 93-95

Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases, St Julien

Deepish; vibrant purple at edge; blackcurrants and cassis; black cherry; cool entry; harmonious; nice acidity; lacks great depth but it’s the acidity that keeps things alive; cherry and blackcurrant notes; quite sappy on the finish with freshness. Le Petit Lion represents less than 25% of the harvest. [60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.9% alc, TA 3.81, pH3.60, IPT 62, 30% new oak]. Drink 2023-2030. 88-90+

La Petite Marquise, St Julien

Deeply coloured; fresh purple at edge; little reductive; blackcurrants; some sour cherry notes; plums with little spice; quite round; full; not weighty but enjoyable; nice sap and chew; lively finish. This second wine represents 13% of the overall Clos harvest. [52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot, 13.9% alc, TA 3.86, pH 3.59, IPT 59, 39hl/ha yield, 25% new oak]. Drink 2021-2026

Château Moulin Riche, St Julien

Mid depth; dark at centre; closed and a little reductive; stone and mineral quality here; richness in the middle palate; quite stone and mineral again; good acid; nice chew and grip. Some length. This needs 5-7 years minimum. [54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 13.3% alc, IPT 65, TA 3.25, pH 3.74, 48hl/ha]. Drink 2022-2028. 89-91+

Château St Pierre, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Deep and dark; fresh purple at edge; very seductive blackcurrant fruit and pain grillé notes on the nose; cassis and blackcurrant notes; plenty of fruit on the palate; real middle; enjoying the harmony here. Nice chew on the finish. The most impressive St Julien at the UGC tasting. [75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 50% new oak]. Drink 2022-2035. 93-95+

Château Talbot, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien

Mid depth; purple edge; spicy, briary fruit tones; elegant; easy palate; fresh; purity but lacks a bit of middle; will likely infill during elévage; grip on the finish. Little compact at present. [66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Drink 2022-2030. 89-91

IMG_0910Château Gruaud Larose held the UGCB tastings

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