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Bordeaux Primeurs 2012: Château Léoville-Las-Cases

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux


Château Léoville-Las-Cases has triumphed in 2012. It borders Château Latour geographically and for me this northernmost St Julien is better than the Pauillac first growth this year. It is a great effort. In the glass there is no trace of the difficult vintage that produced this wine. Clos du Maquis looks very good too, lots of blackcurrant and cassis tones [it is 92% Cabernet] it has a solid structure but nicely ripe tannin. If the price is right this wine is really worth considering. Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases, the second wine of Las-Cases, is attractive and supple.

Cold April weather slowed the vine growth and flowering took place in a wet period so there was some coulure [flower shatter], particular on the old vine Merlots. As elsewhere there followed a very dry period from mid-July through to the end of September, which allowed veraison to occur in optimum conditions. The decision was taken to harvest as late as possible to get as much phenolic ripeness, a decision that has paid of handsomely. The harvest at Léoville-Las-Cases spanned October 4-18, one of the latest here in the past decade.

Overall the temperature and rainfall charts see that the 2012 vintage lies closest to 2001. Night time temperatures were reasonably cool, even in the hot period, so it maintained a good sugar/acidity balance in the grapes. There was a degree of hydric stress towards the end of August and the later rain in September proved critical to the final phenological ripening. The Mâitre de Chais Bruno Rolland compares the vintage with 2008 and 2001.

Every time I visit to taste here I’m reminded by a map in the laboratory of the exceptional terroir that Clos du Marquis occupies. It originates from the ‘Petit Clos’ that was adjacent to the great Château de Léoville. The Clos du Marquis vineyards are not part of the former estate itself but border other Crus Classés vineyards, Château Léoville-Barton and Château Léoville-Poyferré in St Julien and Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Pauillac. Considering the quality and pedigree of the terroir, Clos du Maquis remains a bit of a steal in most vintages. I was also impressed with Domaines Delon’s Château Potensac in 2012. I’ve bought the 1996, 2000 and 2001 in the past and not been disappointed. More on this wine later with the Médoc reviews.

The following wines were tasted at Château Léoville-Las-Cases on Friday April 12, 2013.

Château Léoville-Las-Cases, St Julien

Deep and saturated looking; vibrant edge; very deep nose; enticing, focused and precise; layers; excellent depth of fruit on the nose. The palate is full of fruit, material and ripe tannin; there is a lot of stuff here but it is very focused indeed. There is a roundness and ripe quality which gives a balanced and harmonious feel to the palate. Excellent length and very nicely done. 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc 80% new oak, 13.47 alc IPT 70 pH 3.6. 94-96+

Le Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases, St Julien

Deep and saturated; minerality; blackcurrants; cassis and some blackcurrant lift; purity here; life and spice too; nice entry; cassis; blackcurrant; nice balance this is attractive and quite supple and round. 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc 13.53 % alc 20% new barrels yield 33hl/ha IPT68. pH 3.59 89-91+

Clos du Marquis, St Julien

Very saturated looking; cassis, blackcurrants, freshness and purity; lots of stuff in here; real polish and layered too; full; quite taught palate with lots of extract and material and very nicely handled it is. Very concentrated but manages surprising elegance and freshness. Really lots of material here and grip. Tannin feels ripe. No problems here at all. Good length and good buy I expect. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. 40% new oak, 13.5% alc, IPT 65 pH3.64  92-93+


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