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May 22, 2015

Leoville Las Cases and Pichon Lalande 2014

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This morning sees the release of two outstanding wines, Pichon Lalande and Leoville Las Cases. Both were very highly rated by all critics, including Neal Martin, who says Pichon Lalande is ‘within touching distance of the First Growths’. He goes further with Leoville Las Cases stating ‘dare I say, equal to some of the First Growths’.  We loved both these wines and Pichon Lalande’s price is excellent, offering a real incentive to buy en primeur. Leoville Las Cases was our joint favourite wine of the vintage, with incredible complexity, depth and concentration. Leoville Las Cases 2014 is a WOW wine, its supreme artistry makes you step back; it is certainly as good as Mouton and Lafite Rothschild, surpassing all other wines of the vintage. Leoville Las Cases 2014 is spectacular and for less than £900 this offers incredible value compared to other great wines of the world. I would pick the 2014 above any leading Super Tuscan wine of the last 20 years, above the leading ‘cult Californians’, or any other blockbuster wines the world over. Leoville Las Cases is a strong reminder that no other region can produce gems of this brilliance for under £900.

Las Cases 2014 would have been worth buying anywhere priced under £1,000, it is therefore a must own wine. The leading critics are all in unison, with Martin scoring it 94-96, the Wine Spectator 94-97, James Suckling 96-97 and Tim Atkin 96 points. This puts it on par with the epic 2009 and close behind the 2010 and 2005, which have an average price of £1,600. Leoville Las Cases 2014 therefore offers a 45% discount on equivalent scoring vintages and is cheaper than any other physical vintage. Martin has made his feelings about Leoville Las Cases clear, it is destined for 96 points or more when tasted from bottle. In fact 2014 Leoville Las Cases, while not only being the star of the vintage, could turn out to be an all-time great from this Estate.

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Pichon Lalande 2014 released for £625 per case of 12 bottles, £10 cheaper than the 2013, which completely sold out last year. This makes today’s release compelling, with Pichon Lalande 2014 another candidate for one of the top wines of the campaign. Neal Martin awarded it 93-95, equal to Haut Brion and Margaux. We were very impressed with Pichon Lalande, which in 2014 combines power with finesse. Martin’s score means that the 2014 is potentially on par with their outstanding 2009 and 2010, while surpassing all other vintages in the last ten years. The average current price since 2004 is £794, while the 2009 and 2010 both trade at £1,100, making the similar quality 2014 look like a superb proposition at a 21% discount to the average and a 13% discount to the 2008.

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Leoville Las Cases 2014, 12×75 – £890 or 6×75 £445 EP
The Wine Advocate, Neal Martin, 94-96
The Château Léoville-Las-Cases 2014 is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot cropped at 33 hectoliter per hectare matured in 85% new oak. There is 6.8% vin de presse this year. Picked between 30 September and 13 October over 12 days, it has an intense, graphite-scented bouquet, one of the most Pauillac-like that I have encountered, extremely precise and perhaps less flamboyant than recent vintages. This is very controlled. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, succinctly pitched acidity and an almost pixelated finish that lingers long and tenderly. I love the elegance here – this is an outstanding wine from Jean-Hubert Delon and his team and dare I say, equal to some of the First Growths.
James Suckling, 96-97 Points
The aromas to this wine are enchanting with blackberries, dried flowers, blueberries, citrus and stones. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and bright acidity. Citrus skin undertones. Very, very long. Structured. This is a 13.8 alcohol meaning the cabernet was incredibly ripe for the vintage. Yet it remains agile, structured and bright.
The Wine Spectator, James Moleworth, 94-97 Points
A pure, coiled and focused wine, with a superdense core of red and black currant fruit, carried by a mouthwatering iron spine. The long finish features gorgeous notes of dried anise and smoldering charcoal, while the fruit stays pure and racy. The grip takes over in the end, big time. Another brick house in the making.

Pichon Lalande 2014, 12×75 – £620 or 6×75 – £310 EP
The Wine Advocate, Neal Martin, 93-95
The Château Pichon-Lalande 2014 is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot picked over five weeks between 16 September and 20 October. It has a very pure and precise bouquet with a light marine influencing the black cherries and blueberry fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with a tense, graphite-tinged opening, a fine line of acidity (pH 3.72) and a silky smooth finish. The Cabernet Sauvignon is very expressive and dominates the Merlot at the moment, although the Merlot is essentially counterbalancing what might have been a much more austere Pichon-Lalande. Under Nicolas Glumineau, this Pauillac estate is really beginning to “motor” and this is an excellent wine, one within touching distance of the First Growths.
James Suckling, 93-94
What a joy to feel the ultra-fine tannins in this wine! It really is like touching fine silk. It’s full-bodied with integrated drip fruit of tar, blackberries, minerals as well as a compacted and very long finish. Polished texture. Strong elegance. Reminds me of the outstanding wines of the 1980s such as 1986.
The Wine Spectator, James Molesworth, 92-95
Vibrant, with a blaze of iron running from start to finish, while dark currant, cherry and plum fruit forms the core. The long, grippy, integrated finish shows excellent vivacity.

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