We were generally very impressed by the balance and harmony of the wines at the St Julien UGC. Few were blockbusters, but they all had ample fruit, a sense of freshness, sympathetic tannins and a sense of cohesion. Henri Martin's wines are always ambitious with lots of extract and colour. Slightly reductive notes on the nose are followed by ample bramble fruit on the palate. It seems a little severe on the basis of this tasting, but there is admirable freshness, energy and good underlying fruit with quite an impressive structure, so this should evolve very nicely. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot and aged in 40% new oak.
In 1942 Henri Martin purchased four hectares of vines in St Julien, which became Gloria. Over the years, Henri has bought parcels from St Pierre (also one of his estates), and super seconds: Ducru Beaucaillou, Gruaud Larose, Leoville Poyferre and Leoville Barton. Now at 48 hectares, the estate produces 20,000 cases of its first wine each year and is carving a reputation as one of the region’s best value wines. As its inception was some time after the 1855 classification, this is simply an AOC St Julien, but it gives many a cru classé a run for their money.
St-Julien may not have any first growths like its neighbour Pauillac but has a raft of high-performing Châteaux in its ranks, second through to fourth growths, Including Ducru-Beaucaillou, Léoville Las Cases, Léoville-Poyferré, Léoville-Barton.
Gruaud-Larose and Talbot. For many St-Julien is quintessential claret, robust, powerful but refined subtle and poised. Gravelly soils dominate, hence wide plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot.