By complete contrast to Langoa, Leoville Barton is a monumental wine with real gravitas. Produced from 86% Cabernet and the balance Merlot, this is a reserved, reticent wine that slowly unfurls to reveal a glorious bouquet of damson liqueur, graphite, cloves, spice, fine herbs, tobacco and flowers. There is considerable mid palate weight here although there is no excess; it is all pure, taut dark fruit which builds and builds offering layers of nuanced black and red berry fruit and minerals. Although understated this is a big wine and will reward considerable cellaring; the stunning fruit coated tannins hint to a long future. Impressive stuff!
The vineyards at Leoville Barton originally formed part of the great Leoville estate. Following the death of Marquis de la Cases, the vast property was split into three; the Marquis’ son Jean-Pierre took the third that is now Leoville Las Cases, the Marquis’ daughter, Jeanne’s share became what we know as Leoville Poyferre following her marriage to the Baron de Poyferre and the final third was auctioned off and purchased by Hugh Barton, who has recently purchased Langoa in 1821. Today the estate is expertly run by Anthony Barton, one of the best respected propriétaire in Bordeaux. He makes wines to be enjoyed on the table and is quite outspoken about wine being used as an investment vehicle. He prices his wines for consumers and as such has a legion of devoted followers.
The vineyard comprises 47 hectares on classically gravelly St Julien soils over clay. Plantings are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (72%) with 20% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. The Grand vin is one of the most popular cru Classé in the UK market, but the less well known second label, Reserve de Leoville Barton offers similarly good value and is much more accessible in its youth.
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.