Didier Cuvelier and his team have fashioned something intense and structured at Château Léoville Poyferré in 2013. It is a serious effort that will be more long-term than most. Château Le Moulin Riche, their second St Julien property [not to be confused with Pavillon de Poyferré, the second wine here] is creamy and polished. There’s still some wood to integrate on the palate but there is quite a bit of blackcurrant fruit.
Overall Didier Cuvelier’s view here is that 2013 is akin here to ‘2008 – minus’. Certainly looking at the rainfall figures for the property provided by the château, the vintage appears less affected by rain than the other appellations [Margaux for example]. Clearly Léoville-Poyferré also has a dry, well-drained aspect as it has made a pretty serious fist of its wines in the past three vintages – the tricky line up 2011-2013. This is always a wine that needs time to show its best, despite the extremely flamboyant form of the estate’s precocious, and already delicious, 2009.
Following the cool and wet weather at the end of May/beginning of June, flowering in 2013 was the most delayed in a decade. There was significant coulure and millerandage on the varieties, Merlot especially. By the end of June vine growth was three weeks behind compared to average but, remarkably, the very hot July allowed the vineyards to catch up more than half this. August was then dry and temperatures were close to average for the month, with only a brief rainy spell before the end of the month. Good conditions persisted until mid September at which point conditions turned, with high humidity and warm temperatures dominating. Nevertheless the fruit was fairly well set at this stage, particularly compared to how dire things looked mid June [I remember Vinexpo…].
Harvest started at Léoville-Poyferré on October 2nd and closed 17th October. Rains that fell elsewhere on 3rd & 4th October apparently missed the property. Still the conditions exerted a considerable botrytis pressure, especially on the Merlots.
Overall the 2013 vintage provides some interesting parameters. If May and June were the coolest at Léoville-Poyferré in a decade, July was the hottest in over two decades [in fact since 1991]. This heat blitzed any green pyrazine characters that might have otherwise marred the fruit – and we’ve certainly got July to thank for snatching some sort of victory from the jaws of defeat. Undoubtedly the grand vin is a really structured and serious effort and it will be very interesting to see how it develops.
Prices? Well Léoville-Poyferré released at £420 [$700] per case of 12. From what I’ve seen that’s equivalent to the 2007 vintage, which [along with 2007] looks to be the cheapest on the market. While it’s not quite the bargain price they released the 2008 at [£320/$600], given the quality it’s something to really consider this year – especially when you see it is half the price of Château Léoville-Las-Cases [£860/$1460] in 2013.
Château Léoville-Poyferré, Cru Classé, St Julien
Deep and saturated look; tight to rim; vibrant; blackcurrant purity with a vanilla lift; focused and precise on the palate; seam of fruit; oak needs to integrate a little but good effort. Grip and focus. Chewy finish. Pretty serious. Akin to 2008. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc], 13% alc, TA 3.6, pH 3.63, IPT 73, 34hl/ha]. Tasted 31/3/14 at Léoville-Poyferré. Drink 2020-2030. 91-92+ [Additional note] Deep and saturated; attractive and layered nose; complex; full; smoked meats; blackcurrants; nice entry and good extract and material; firmly structured – and feels a little more backward compared with the Bartons just before but all the elements clearly there; chew and density on the finish suggests a serious effort here. Will settle nicely. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. Drink 2020-2030. 90-92+
Château Moulin Riche, St Julien
Deep and saturated colour; vibrant at the meniscus; intense, tight but focused on the nose; blackcurrant cassis; polished and creamy entry; wood a little dominant and acidity present. Grip. Should settle. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 17% Petit Verdot]. Tasted 31/3/14 at Léoville-Poyferré. Drink 2017-2030. 86-88