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The Three Leovilles

February 13, 2020

The Jürade de Saint-Emilion du Singapour kept its promise of bi-monthly meetings with a theme centring on the three Leoville estates of Saint Julien on 15 January 2020 at restaurant Nicolas. Derived originally from a very large piece of land under Domaine de Leoville back in the 18th century, it was eventually divided into three: firstly in 1826 when Hugh Barton purchased a part that became Ch Leoville Barton (47 ha, now still within the Barton family), then in 1840 when a family feud caused the remainder to be subdivided into Ch Leoville Poyferre (60 ha now under the Cuvelier family) and Ch Leoville Las-Cases (97 ha now under the Delon family). The latter, with its vines seamlessly abutting those of Ch Latour, has always clearly been a notch above Barton in the pecking order with the easy-going Poyferre something of a wild card, as exemplified by the 1996 horizontal below. To me, Las-Cases is on par with premier cru and, in the best vintages, it probably offers the best value if one really wishes to get an outstanding claret at a relative bargain. The tasting that evening threw up one lovely surprise, a 1991 Barton that was truly beautiful. Many thanks to Marc for the organisation, and to everyone else for their contributions.

Bordeaux 2008 Ric 130

2014 Domaine Michel Caillot Meursault Clos du Cromin. Essentially shut, proffering just faint glimpses of tropical fruits though the minerally palate is delightfully delicate, imbued with excellent presence of lime and clear citrus, fairly expansive and open with fleeting intensity and superb acidity that traversed with unbroken linearity all the way to its delicate finish. Excellent.

2009 Ch Leoville Poyferre. Deep impenetrable purple, still cloaked in enamel on the nose amid savoury hints though it is already quite open with gentle intensity on the palate, displaying great subtlety and acidity with its understated presence. Quiet finish. Still tightly coiled. Best to lay down for another decade.

2002 Ch Leoville Poyferre. Dark. Slightly earthy with characters of forest floor on the nose amid ripe wild berries and blackcurrants. Good concentration of fruit that recalled briar and wild berries, softly supple with sharp acidity and intensity but lacking layering and detail.

1991 Ch Leoville Barton. Dull purple with some evolution. Lovely earthy glow on the nose amid ripe raspberries while the open palate is generously endowed with succulent red fruits and strawberries. Fleshy with plenty of structure, detail and fine acidity, finishing with a persistent earthy tone. Faded somewhat towards the end of dinner but this wine far exceeds all expectations. Excellent, really.

1998 Ch Leoville Barton. Deep impenetrable purple with a rim of crimson. Shut on the nose. The palate is open with excellent presence of black fruits and currants though, surprisingly, it is not yielding much in detail and layering in spite of its age, finishing quietly.

1999 Ch Leoville Barton. Dark musty crimson, exuding a gentle glow of herbs and dried mushrooms with good presence and subtle acidity, fleshing out with fine seamless intensity but lacking in charm, detail and layering, which appears to be consistent with all the clarets of 1999 that I’d come across at this point of time. Quiet finish.

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Nicolas

1983 Ch Leoville Las-Cases. Evolved mature purple. Open with a soft gentle glow of distilled red fruits and cherries with characters of fresh charcoal and ferrous ore. Sweet and delicious, still imbued with fine presence and intensity though distinctly relaxed in feel.

2004 Ch Leoville Las-Cases. Deep crimson. Soft distant glow of red fruits with a lovely faint floral fragrance along with a hint of malt. Delivers well on the palate with fine supple presence and intensity underscored with graphite elements, distinctly understated in structure. Drinking well.

2006 Ch Leoville Las-Cases. Deep impenetrable darkness, proffering mocha and chocolate with a hint of dry malt. Classically structured. Quite fleshy, showing good refinement and understated intensity. Perhaps not quite ready.

1996 Ch Leoville Poyferre. Deep crimson. Slightly forward with a subtle lift of distilled red fruits and strawberries along with complex earthiness and ferrous elements whilst the soft fleshy palate is imbued with ripe wild berries amid brambly tones and herbs that lent a touch of austerity, not revealing much detail.

1996 Ch Leoville Barton. Deep crimson, exuding complex tertiary flavours with a lifted sweetness amid broad swathes of gentle dark fruits, haw, dark currants and earth, most beguiling. Very refined in structure and acidity, seamlessly integrated with great suppleness. Highly elegant, which says a lot for a claret. At its absolute peak. Superb.

1996 Ch Leoville Las-Cases. Very deep crimson. This estate stamps its impeccable pedigree with rich warm hues of ripe dark plums and currants that show superb concentration and layering with open dryish textures, displaying excellent intensity and acidity, structured with exciting yet harmonious tannins. Has real sophistication and aristocratic power. Like all 1996 of the Left Bank, this wine has turned the corner and is approaching its peak. Quite outstanding.

2000 Ch Leoville Poyferre. Dark crimson. Delicious bouquet of rich dark currants and black fruits. Open with a relaxed suppleness, displaying early secondary characteristics with real sophistication. Appears to have evolved faster than expected.

2000 Ch Leoville Barton. Very dark, exuding a complex of complex red and dark fruits and currants still touched with a faint dash of emulsion though the palate seemed strangely detached, rather distant and aloof in spite of abundant cool ripe fruit that is seamlessly integrated.

2016 Bénédicte & Stéphane Tissot En Barberon Blanc. This Jura displays great luminosity and purity of fruit, exuding a clear crystalline minerality with gentle white floral notes. Excellent in concentration but rather tight and austere, its minerally balance conferring a dry chiselled quality.

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