I fondly recall my first bottle of Chateau Léoville-Barton when I was in college. At this stage, I knew very little about Bordeaux wines but I can fondly remember the harmony of this 1990 bottling. Sitting with one of my mentors in wine, he talked about how well these wines age, even in challenging vintages. I have purchased many wines from this storied estate for that exact reason. A few weeks back I had the chance to visit this famed chateau and take in a lesson in history of this winery. Founded by Thomas Barton in 1722, wine produced from this chateau was classified as one of fifteen Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths) in the original 1855 Bordeaux classification. It is truly one of my favorite of those fifteen ‘super seconds.’ Léoville-Barton has a sister winery, Langoa-Barton, as these two St. Julien properties have the longest continuous duration of ownership by the same family of any of the other current proprietors in Bordeaux. The estate of Léoville-Barton spans 116 acres (47 ha) of vineyard is located in the central part of the appellation along the Gironde river. The soil composition is largely gravel with a subsoil of clay. The plantings are 72% Cabernet Sauvignon with 20% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc, with the vines averaging 30 years of age.
While I did not try the new release from this estate, I was absolutely blown away with the 2010 Chateau Léoville-Barton (WWB, 95) which has evolved beautifully since I first tried the wine. This wine has a a wonderful richness and intensity to it, as it really needs another year or two in the bottle to fully evolve. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to try the 1982 Chateau Léoville-Barton (WWB, 95) which is a truly amazing showing. 1982 was one of the great vintages for Bordeauxs and this wine showed absolutely marvelously — and has a long life left! Learn more about this famed second growth property at https://www.leoville-barton.com/en/ Here are my notes for the wines I have recently sampled from Chateau Léoville-Barton.
1982 Chateau Léoville-Barton- The 1982 Chateau Léoville-Barton red wine is a stunning bottling from this famed vintage in Bordeaux. Generously shared by some friends, and needing very little time in the decanter to evolve, the 1982 Léoville-Barton opens with a captivating nose of sour red cherry, cigar box with shades of white truffle and a striking herbaceousness. There is a wonderful, seamless quality to this wine that evokes a harmonious balance on the mid-palate. A bright saline streak dashes through this incredible wine. Showing a wonderfully soft mouthfeel, the wine slowly unveils layers of sour red fruits, exotic spices, red bell pepper, anise and hints of wild blackberry that all marvelously combine with the toasty oak. While absolutely delightful now, this stunning wine will has more than a decade of life left. Drink 2019-2035- 95
2004 Chateau Léoville-Barton- The 2004 Chateau Léoville-Barton is a resounding success in this challenging cool vintage in Bordeaux. Needing roughy a one hour decant to open, the wine slowly yields aromas of dark currant with leather, coffee grounds and damp earth. The palate shows good freshness with medium-bodied dark fruit and red fruit flavors that combine with the strong earthy components. Showing good verve and richness considering its age, as well as the challenges that presented themselves in this vintage, I think the wine is right at its peak and will provide drinking enjoyment over the next decade. Drink 2019-2029- 92
2010 Chateau Léoville-Barton- The 2010 Léoville-Barton is a magical effort that is drinking exceedingly well in its youth. On the nose this takes on a highly perfumed display of red currant with dusty earth and blackberry cobbler, with underlying suggestions of espresso bean. The palate is vibrant and full of energy. Showing a good level of minerality the wine is displaying some serious mid-palate weight with black fruits dominating the flavor profile. The long, dark fruit-driven finish combines marvelously with the minerals to create a intriguingly refreshing effect. Be sure to give this at least a two hour decant if enjoying it now. This beautiful wine will cellar well for the next two to three decades. Drink 2020-2040- 95