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Bordeaux In Bottle: St Julien

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Well, certainly don’t rush to open any of your 2019 St Julien. I reckon most of them need at least another five years in the cellar before you consider opening them. Many need a decade and I’d expect all of them to be in rude health twenty years from now. In contrast to Margaux and the Haut-Médoc in 2019, St Julien it seems the wines have retreated into their shells. There is lots and lots to them. These are layered and extremely concentrated wines, but currently they are tight as hell. Perhaps this is all in order in any event. This appellation does produce some of the longest-lived Bordeaux, along with Pauillac and St Estèphe. Nevertheless the 2019 vintage here feels much more akin to 2005 and 2010 than to 2009, 2016 or 2018. Obviously any tasting is just a snapshot, but currently these wines are in a slumber. Quality-wise, as ever this appellation is extremely consistent.

Of the nine wines shown by the UGCB, Château Léoville Poyferré was probably the most remarkable in terms of depth and structure. Château Léoville Barton and sibling Château Langoa Barton were impressive but felt very backward. Château St Pierre shows lots of inky promise and Château Lagrange has made attractive wine that is layered. Again both these need a decade in bottle. Even the usually flamboyant Château Gloria has gone all demure.

The following wines were tasted at the UGCB event in London in November 2021.

Château Beychevelle, St Julien, 2019

Deep and saturated; purple at edge; some resin and intensity; needs to unfurl; opens up to reveal plums, some spice; quite tight and layered; compact on the palate and not really revealing itself, other than it is intense and tightly woven; black fruits and chocolate; has length. Will work out given a bit of time in bottle. [46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot]. Tasted Nov ’21. Drink 2025-3040. 92+

Château Branaire-Ducru, St Julien, 2019

Deep core; glossy looking; initially a bit dumb; some schist and wet rock; quite serious and intense; has intensity but firmly closed in its shell. Will come good as balance seems fine. Just tight as hell at present. [56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot]. Tasted Nov ’21. Drink 2025-2040. 92?

Château Gloria, St Julien, 2019

Deep and lush looking; dark and opaque at centre; legs; fine fruit; black fruits; some marzipan and schist; like the ripeness; layered and tight palate which still needs time – generally these St Julien’s are quite backward at present. Savoury and intense on the finish. Quite inky. This has length and feels quite a long-term Gloria. Reminds me of 2010 in terms of tannin profile. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot]. Tasted Nov ’21. Drink 2025-2039. 92

Château Lagrange, St Julien, 2019

Deep and dark; glossy looking; vibrant purple at edge; some earth, truffle and chocolate along with ripe blackcurrant fruit tones; attractive and creamy; this is intense and layered; tightly woven on the palate this needs years, and suggests, as many of these wines do that 2019 feels a little like a combination of 2009 and 2005. Currently this is wound up in a tight ball. My tasting notes say, a modern day 2005? Long term wine for sure. [80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot]. Tasted Nov ’21. Drink 2028-2045. 93+

Château Langoa Barton, St Julien, 2019

Deep and vibrant looking; purple at edge; tightly wound at present; blackcurrant purity unfurls on the aromatics; wine gums; has layers; schist mineral quality too; this is currently quite dry with a lot of extract on the palate. This is powerful stuff that needs ten years as a minimum. [67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc]. Tasted Nov ’21. Drink 2029-2045. 92+

Château Léoville Barton, St Julien, 2019

Deep and intense looking; legs; arterial at centre; brooding and inky; classic; blackcurrants, cassis; some schist; freshness and acidity on the palate; pretty solid currently and needs to unpack, but this is long term wine in a long term vintage. There is some chew to the tannins on the finish [which is long] but the fruit is considerable. Again needs a decade before it will start to sing I reckon. [84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot]. Tasted Nov ’21. Drink 2029-2050. 95+

Château Léoville Poyferré, St Julien, 2019

Deep and dark; intense looking; the definition of inky; colour super tight to the rim; rich but currently very tight; layers and plenty here; terrific on the palate; wonderful depth; this is big wine but has elegance too; pure and well defined. Great structure. Blackcurrants, plums and some savoury notes. Chew to the tannins but this feels like a monumental 2019 to me. Akin to the 2010. [67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot]. Tasted Nov ’21. Drink 2030-2050. 97+

Château Saint-Pierre, St Julien, 2019

Deep and dark at centre; earthy purple at edge; ripe black fruits and marzipan notes; layered and glossy; like this; clean and pure fruit tones on the palate; intense and inky as all the St Juliens have been but more approachable than some on the day; has plenty of fruit and acidity. This also needs time, but more like 3-5 years I expect, than the decades that the Léovilles need. Fresh and inky. [79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot]. Tasted Nov ’21. Drink 2027-2045. 94

Château Talbot, St Julien, 2019

Mid depth; deep at core; stalky, earthy blackcurrant aromatics with some undergrowth; opens up; sturdy blackcurrants on the palate; some smoked meats; will work well. This has oomph and is one of the more impressive Talbot’s in recent years. Plenty of blackcurrant fruit, earth and savoury tones. Good effort here. [69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot]. Tasted Nov ’21. Drink 2026-2040. 92+

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