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May 20, 2015

Leoville Barton 2014

LB

The first release of the day is the leading Second Growth from St.Julien, Leoville Barton for £430 per case of 12. This price represents only one euro ex-negociant higher than last year, which equates to a compelling 10% reduction, ex-London, on the 2013 release price of £480. St Julien was our favourite village in 2014 and Leoville Barton does not disappoint, it is a very good wine surpassing all vintages in the last 10 years with the exception of 2005, 2009 and 2010. Its 92-94 point score from Neal Martin puts it potentially on par with the epic 2005 and utterly stunning 2009. Only the 2010, possibly the estate’s greatest modern vintage, is out of its reach. James Molesworth agrees awarding it 92-95 points, Tim Atkin 94 and the Wine Enthusiast 96 points. The average case price in its leading vintages of 2005, 2009 and 2010 is £700, so at £430 the 2014 is a no-brainer. In fact the average case price over the last ten vintages is £515. It is lovely and refreshing for an estate to keep its euro price in line with last year, providing a superb incentive to purchase on release.

Leoville Barton represents the archetype of great Bordeaux, each vintage is built to last, excellent vintages like the 1990 still taste young today, an idiom for truly great, age-worthy Bordeaux. However, the price of Leoville Barton has always remained very appealing, the proprietors Anthony Barton and his daughter Lilian deciding not to squeeze the lemon with the crowd. Bordeaux lovers will appreciate today’s release price and stock up on this magnificent and venerable chateau for the decades ahead. I will hopefully be enjoying bottles of this in twenty years and comparing it to the 1990, one of the wines which made me fall in love with Bordeaux.

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Chateau Leoville was at the time of the French Revolution the largest estate in the Medoc, however, it was confiscated when the Marquis de Las Cases fled the Revolution. Today it occupies a quarter of the original estate. In 1826 Hugh Barton, of successful negociant business Barton & Guestier bought a share in the estate with the purpose of returning it to its original owner. The Marquis de Las Cases, unfortunately, was unable to reimburse M. Barton for the land and so he remained the owner. Interestingly five years before, Hugh Barton had also acquired the neighbouring property of Langoa and as there was no chai on the Leoville land he was forced to vinify both the wines of Leoville and Langoa at the chai on the Langoa estate. This practice continues to this day.

Leoville Barton has been owned by one family for almost two centuries. Since 1986 the estate has embraced new wine making techniques and the efforts have been reflected in the wines to date. Leoville Barton is situated in the centre of St Julien and has gravely soil with a subsoil of clay. The wine is Cabernet Sauvignon dominated and has flavours of dark fruit and a nose of cedar which is typical of a wine from St Julien. Especially in recent years, Leoville Barton has a reputation of producing wonderful wines at reasonable prices and coupled with the wit and charm of Anthony Barton this is a favourite of consumers, investors and journalists alike.

Neal Martin, Wine Advocate, 92-94 Points
The Château Léoville-Barton 2014 is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc picked between 25 September and 8 October and matured in 60% new oak. This is clearly richer and more opulent than the Langoa Barton with small dark cherries, a touch of boysenberry and cedar, more immediate than its “little sister”. The palate is sweet and sappy in the mouth with concentrated black fruit, hints of liquorice coming through on the finish that fans out with a bit of brio. It does not quite possess the clinical precision of Léoville Las-Cases, but there is certainly a lot of substance and length here. Lilian Barton can rightly be proud of this. Tasted on three occasions. Drink 2019-2040
James Molesworth, Wine Spectator 92-95
Mouthfilling from the start, with lovely plum sauce, steeped fig and blackberry coulis flavors, lined with warm ganache notes and carried by ample but polished tannins. Features a tarry edge at the end, but maintains a rather polished feel overall. A lovely wine, once again.
Tim Atkin, 94 Points
Léoville-Barton is more tannic and closed than its stablemate Langoa-Barton at this stage, as it often tends to be, but has the fruit weight and power to emerge from behind the extraction over time. Built to last, this is an ambitious Cabernet-based red of considerable quality.
James Suckling 92-93 Points
A very fine and linear Barton with bright raspberries and cherries. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and a long, beautiful finish. Sleek and racy.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous, 91-94
A fabulous wine from this venerable estate, the 2014 Léoville-Barton is super-impressive today. Dark red stone fruits, wild flowers, mint, spices and raspberry all show the inflections of invigorating freshness that are such a signature of the vintage. Hints of crème de cassis, blackberry jam, graphite, brioche, grilled herbs and spice add nuance on an inky finish that gains weight over time. Today, the 2014 is embryonic, but I won’t be surprised if it grows considerably over the coming years. The blend is 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. Tasted two times. 

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