Leoville Barton has been a favourite in the British Isles for over a century; the powerful tannins and structure create a wine that has the ability to age for decades. The Estate has chosen not to obey the en vogue trends favoured by Robert Parker of obvious, exuberant fruit focused wines, rather sticking to structured, tannic wines that age for many years. For these reasons the Estate can be divisive, splitting Parker and other critics although the Barton family have stuck to their guns delivering wines that avid collators know and love. However, in 2010 the Estate and Robert Parker aligned, creating a wine that in Parker’s words ‘is one of the spectacular wines of the vintage’, awarding it 96+ points.
One of the most unforgettable wines I have ever tasted was a bottle of Leoville Barton 1990, a wine that Parker has rescored eight times, from his original 89-92 points to as high as 95; still undecided it now receives 93+ points. This was a memorable wine because it screamed world class claret, combining Leoville Barton’s firm, muscular and prominent tannins, with multidimensional flavours of smoke, toast, cedar, coffee, mocha enveloping into gamey notes, forest floor and finally cigar box, it showcased what Leoville Barton can do when left to age gracefully. The 2010 will be better, it somehow broaches the old and the new, combining the ripeness of fruit and richness that Parker requires, yet brooding with the structure and tannic masculinity that can be misleading when young. In my opinion it is the greatest young Leoville Barton I have tasted and will surpass all their other vintages. When tasting the 2010 I instantly recalled the 1990 fondly thinking of one of the most striking clarets I ever tasted, however, the 2010 has more, it is a notch above the 1990.
Not entering Parker’s slipstream has meant that Leoville Barton is the most affordable great Second Growth wine, in fact Leoville Barton occupies a quarter share of what used to be the original Leoville estate, sharing the best terroir with Leoville Las Cases and Leoville Poyferre in the centre of Saint Julien and boasting a wonderful combination of gravely soil with a subsoil of clay. Leoville Las Cases also scored 96+ points in 2010 and trades at £1,000 per half case; Leoville Barton matches it in every way apart from price, hugely undervalued at £425 per half case. I look forward to opening the Leoville Barton 2010 over the next 20 years and savouring a wine that synthesizes the old and the new. I recommend this wine to any lover of great claret.
Expert Review of Leoville Barton 2010
The Wine Advocate, Robert Parker 96+ points
A splendid showing, much stronger from bottle than it was from barrel, the Leoville Barton is one of the spectacular wines of the vintage. Inky purple to the rim, its huge tannin gives this wine real potential for 30-50 years of longevity. It is a classic, powerful Bordeaux made with no compromise. A superstar of the vintage, the wine has notes of pen ink and creme de cassis, good acidity, sweet, subtle oak, and massive extraction and concentration. . The beautiful purity, symmetry, and huge finish of nearly a minute make this one of the all-time great classics from Leoville Barton. Anticipated maturity: 2028-2065+.
jamessuckling.com, James Suckling 97 points
This is phenomenal, with dark fruits, with cassis and blackberries Full and super silky, with incredible fruit and ripe tannins. It goes on and on. So much depth of fruit here. Barton is on a roll again in this vintage.
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