By Neal Martin
Bordeaux is usually a serene and tranquil place; just the restful sounds of the Atlantic breeze, the birds, and the distant chugging of vineyard machinery broken occasionally by a car hurtling up the road late for a Château appointment. On a dewy autumnal morning, we stood on the lawn with Gildas d`Ollone at Château Pichon-Lalande, looking down the escarpment towards the Gironde. Our silence was broken by the distant sound of cranes, diggers and pneumatic drills at neighbouring Château Latour. One has become accustomed to the renovation of Châteaux, but demolition and reconstruction on this scale? Our host described it as “Hotel Latour” and conjectured upon the number of floors they were planning to build. As the project nears completion, the landscape is not blighted by a 15-storey tower block overlooking the Gironde. In fact, they were constructing new underground cellars and rebuilding the administrative quarters virtually brick by brick.
French industrialist Francois Pinault purchased the Château in 1993 and over the last two years he has striven to build his “Kubla Khan”, a potent celebration of Latour’s historical significance and unique terroir, with unlimited financial backing. To administer such a change he installed Frederick Engerer, a somewhat obdurate perfectionist who has just about completed the project with ruthless vigour.
We were some of the first visitors to witness the impressive results, even though the courtyard was still strewn with rubble and building detritus. The usual entrance via the trademark Tour de St. Lambert was closed due to the re-cobbling of the courtyard. As we traipsed through the mud to enter the chai, I could not help but notice its location some 100 metres from the Gironde (due to its origin as a real castle built to protect the Médoc from pirates.) But in 1991 its proximity to the river protected the vines against the devastating late Spring frost; its micro-climate a vital 1-2 degrees warmer than surrounding vineyards.
We were immediately escorted to the newly excavated first-year cellar which lies directly above the second-year cellar; a stainless steel lift connects the two levels to ensure smooth transition of barrels from one to the other. The ceiling is illuminated by a quite stellar grid of single suspended bulbs akin to Santa`s Grotto. The enlarged space allows the barrels to be stacked on just two levels unlike Cos d`Estournel, for example, where the confines of the building necessitate barrels stacked five to six high and consequently more disturbance of the wines during racking. The cuverie is startling array of differing sized stainless steel vats that were inaugurated for the 2001 vintage.
The matching of various sized plots to suitably sized vessels should enable greater monitoring and control of separate parcels. Finally to the bottling line which now encompasses a state-of-the-art laser mark to foil any forgeries (which is probably going to be a problem with the fabled 2000 vintage.) At the end of the line a dozen women meticulously wrap each bottle so that the tower of St. Lambert is visible through the paper, and pack them into wooden cases to be shipped around the world.
Just across the tiny “Juillac” tributary which divides the communes of Pauillac and St. Julien, lies Château Leoville-Las Cases: the pretender to that elusive/non-existent vacancy as the sixth Bordeaux First Growth. Indeed the accompanying literature boldly asserts the wine “has a personality, a power and longevity equal to the premier cru”. Certainly it is the Château most vociferous in its claim to ascendancy, fuelled by what some describe as “the most fearsome owner in Bordeaux”, Monsieur Jean-Hubert Delon. The motto for Las Cases – “I am the lion that does not bite, unless the enemy attacks first” – certainly encapsulates some of M. Delon`s personality, though personally I find him charming and typically aloof in equal measures. My colleague informed me of his reputation for disarming négociants with long boozy lunches that saw them depart much the worse for wear.
Las Cases is surprisingly traditional with the exception of the tasting room in the centre that resembles a space-pod. It looks out of place amongst the 11 wooden & 14 concrete vats. Just after the harvest there was an intriguing air of bustle and chaos, the odours of countless vintages fermented in the chai as if the building is living and breathing wine. Latour is totally different: clinically spotless with designer lighting, run with a sense of precision and efficiency.
This year saw Las Cases strop out of the en primeur party, refusing to release their opening price of the 2001 vintage. The wine remains unreleased and its market value unquantified, though the Château would argue it is simply comparable to that of the First Growths. They will sit it out until they believe the price can realise this value, approximately £2,000 per case, rather than accept that of another “super-Second”: a risky strategy. As the owner of Château Pavie has found to his cost, a generous Parker score does not entitle a carte blanche policy to pricing. There are a few major-league wine merchants who could count on one hand the number of cases of Pavie 2001 sold. Though one can argue that Las Cases has a longer history and higher pedigree, there is still an intangible gap that exists between the First Growths and “the rest”. The irony is that the Las Cases 2001 is a magnificent wine, perhaps even greater than the 2000. Why manipulate the market when at the end of the day, the quality of the product will always win through?
two truly great estates
For myself, these two historic Châteaux represent the apex of the two most important communes in Bordeaux: Pauillac and St. Julien. They have certain things in common: an unrivalled consistency that can overcome the maritime vagaries of Bordeaux; wines that take a generation to reach a mature plateau and both have superlative Second wines (Les Forts de Latour and Clos du Marquis). Both managers have been described as arrogant, hard-headed and occasionally difficult to deal with. But perhaps that is simply because they are the most ambitious and uncompromising in Bordeaux. When your wines are as profound as the Latour 2000 or Las Cases 2001, one can afford to be arrogant.
As I stood watching the inexorable line of Châteaux Latour 2000 being bottled and wrapped, the phrase “license to print money” came to mind. Many of these bottles would be stored away in some non-descript bond, speculated upon by anonymous millionaires and used as an investment vehicle rather the wine to accompany food and share with friends. A sign of the times in Bordeaux. But certainly if one can ignore the price for a moment, both Châteaux have produced a steady stream of great wines, a trend which looks set to continue long into the future.
75 wines tasted
By Neal Martin and Tom Cannavan
These tasting notes are by Neal Martin, wine-pages columnist, and Tom Cannavan. This is part II of a feature where Neal Martin visited these neighbouring estates in the Médoc. Latour lies in the commune of Pauillac, and Las Cases sits just across a stream in St-Julien. Read about Neal’s visit in part I. All 75 wines tasted between 1999 and 2003, and for the dozen or so vintages that both Neal and Tom have tasted, both notes are included.
- Les Forts de Latour 1994 – 2000
- Château Latour 1955 – 2001
- Clos du Marquis 1989 – 2001
- Château Léoville-Las Cases 1964 – 2001
Les Forts de Latour, 2nd wine of Latour
Les Forts de Latour 1994 19/25
Dark ruby core with slight aging on rim. Meaty aromas. Drinking now. Medium tannins. Good depth with sweet cherry/redcurrant finish. Less opulent than other vintages but still impressive.
Les Forts de Latour 1995 20/25
Deep purple/ruby colour. Rounded strawberry tinged nose. Still quite tight. Good grip with earthy tones. Dark herbs. More dense than the 94. Firm tannins. Another 2-3 years.
Les Forts de Latour 1997 18/25
Quite aromatic on the nose. Slightly austere but blossoms nicely in the mouth. Good structure. Lacks some ripeness. A little stemmy. Good length. Good second wine. Drink with 4-6 yrs.
Les Forts de Latour 1998 19/25
Intense purple. Similar colour to the First wine but much less aromatic. Firm, robust tannins and a fine rich vanilla finish. Medium length. Superb 2nd wine.
Les Forts de Latour 1999 20/25
Nose is closed with faint, smoky black fruits/tobacco aromas. Quite tough at first with firm, sturdy black fruit tannins. Tarry finish. A fine robust wine but without the finesse of top vintage. 6-8 yrs.
Les Forts de Latour 2000 21/25
Moderate blackberry/liquorice nose. Good intensity. Mint. Robust tannins. Well-balanced. Soft palate. Ceder and blackcurrent. Pine. Very long. A great second wine. 10+ yrs
Château Latour 1955 21/25
A perfumed nose for Latour. Mature dried fruits with touch of eucalyptus and leather (like the 1979). Soft and supple on the medium-bodied palate. Lacks a little depth. Lacks some vigour. Fades in glass. Drink now.
Château Latour 1958 21/25
Remarkably young. Just faint on rim. Rich succulent dark fruits. Tannins exhausted but still some vigour. Lean on the finish. Moderate length. A curiosity. My first ever First!
Château Latour 1959 25/25
Intense ruby colour. A soft velvety nose: cherry, redcurrants. A faultless palate, big, round soft fruits with silky tannins. Very complex and very long. A voluptuous sexy Latour which is more enjoyable than the 61 now. A perfect wine.
Château Latour 1961 25/25
Looks like a 96. Unbelievable nose of blackberries. truffles and cedar. A chewy, sweet black palate with perfect balance/acidity. Incredible concentration. Seemless tannins with perfect acidity. Completely faultless. In a different league to Lafite 61. Legendary. Will last 30-40 yrs+.
Château Latour 1962 23/25
Superior to Lafite. A beautiful perfumed nose. Intense sweet fruits/truffles. A seamless, wonderfully balanced palate, rich with glycerol & fruit. Effortlessly graceful wine. Med-bodied. Very long. Some bottle variation but at its best it approaches the 1959. Drinking now but could last another 10 yrs.
Château Latour 1964 22/25
A beautiful minerally nose. The palate not as voluptuous as 62 (which I prefer). Elegant understated Latour. Rounded and elegant. Long. Missing that extra level of complexity that I expected. Drink soon.
Château Latour 1966 22/25
Very impressive 66. Rich nose of tobacco, leather and minerals. The palate still has firm tannins and less evolved then 62. Concentrated, supreme balance. More masculine than other Latours. Drinking now but a magnum still needed 5 years to mature. Hugh Grant’s favourite wine.
Château Latour 1966
This was supplied straight from the Château’s library. Very deep ruby, amazingly so, with just some browning. A nose of beef-blood and deep vegetal aromas. Lovely, sweet cassis fruit still and classic cedary, pencil-shaving complexity. On the palate a gorgeous sweetness of alcohol and ripe, ripe fruit. Wonderfully authoritative tannic structure without any severity. Magnificent structure and complexity with clove and mineral nuances, bitter cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Extremely long, fleshy and supple, balanced and pure. Just superb. (TC)
Château Latour 1970 22/25
Still young looking. Opaque. Tobacco/smoky nose with a massive tannic blackcurrant palate. Truffles and olives on the finish with slightly herbaceous notes. Full-bodied. Some bottle variation with some lacking vigour. At best another 10-20 yrs.
Château Latour 1971 20/25
Not as great as Parker states. A dense truffly, smoky nose followed by a powerful tannic wine that lacks depth and ripeness. Very austere like the 1978. A good but not totally enjoyable Latour. Mouton is better.
Château Latour 1978 20/25
Dark intense colour. A dense, black olive-tinged nose. Distinct minerally, iron note on a the palate. Burnt toast/cassis notes. Very tannic. Very masculine Latour. Possibly will dry out before it ever matures.
Château Latour 1979 21/25
A beautiful plummy, aniseed infuse nose. Not powerful, but great balance with prunes, dried leaves and aniseed on palate. A little austere but drinking well now. Better than 78. Superb. Unusually exotic for Latour.
Château Latour 1982
The dark, crimson core is still dense, taking on a tinge of brown at the rim. Massive nose, redolent of gamy perfume, black fruits, coffee and a wonderful depth of truffle and leather. A deep mulberry-fruited core with meaty undertones, blood-streaked and dense. Wonderfully sweet, silky fruit on the palate. In the mouth this is coated in a glossy sweetness of pure black fruit, glycerine and a dramatic bittersweetness. Plum-skins and ground coffee bean richness. The palate just has a huge, silky-sweet quality that is other-worldly. There are magical tannins and highlights of bright cherry and cassis against mellow fudge, tobacco and chocolate. Fine concentration, beautifully elegant and with terrific balance. The wine is also extremely long and powerful. I would say this is beginning to drink perfectly, but must have 20 years plus ahead of it. Outstanding. (TC)
Château Latour 1983 18/25
Garnet core with aging on rim. Nose is light and quite floral with ripe berries. Medium-bodied palate, quite mature. Meaty. Lean on the finish. Lacks concentration. A bit dry. Ends without a crescendo. Mouton is much better. Drink up.
Château Latour 1983
Rich, dark ruby red fading to amber. Wonderfully classy nose with earthy, mineral scents and a seam of blackcurrant fruit. Leafy, slightly vegetal notes beneath. Medium bodied and supple. Mature, beefy flavours of plum and damson fruit, but delightful nuances of fresher violet and floral character and again, a mineral edge that adds complexity. Fine length with a depth of fruit holding up against integrated tannins and some creamy oak. Concentrated and chewy, this is just starting to dry out, but is a very good, balanced wine for drinking over the next 5 or 6 years. Perhaps not a classic Latour, but most enjoyable. (TC)
Château Latour 1984 20/25
Much more focused on the nose than Lafite: black truffle and tobacco notes. More depth here. The palate has finer definition, better balance and more class. Firm tannins. Herbal. A dry austere finish. Still drinking – but not for long.
Château Latour 1985 20/25
A open-knit expresssive savoury nose. Quite open on the palate with rich coffee infused fruits. Approaching maturity. More enjoyable than 86. But not as intense as Lafite or Haut-Brion. Drinking now.
Château Latour 1986 18/25
Showing age. A nutty black nose. Quite fragrant/feminine. Sturdy tannins with an unwanted green edge. Tasted in a horizontal First Growth 86 tasting it’s deficiencies were clear: lack of ripeness and harmony. Disappointing.
Château Latour 1988 21/25
Much more intense than Mouton. Rich blackberry/cassis plus roasted coffee on nose. Still very tight and quite austere this needs another 5 yrs+. Similar traditional style of Pauillac to Mouton.
Château Latour 1989
Very rich, dark crimson core that is ruby at the rim. A youthful colour. Nose is ripe and meaty with a mass of dusty, olive and blackcurrant fruit. A nicely vegetal quality. Palate is quite full and the fruit is ripe with rich tannins that are sweet and deep. There is an edge of plum-skin bitterness and acidity that gives lovely balance. A nice sense of roundness too with sweet vanillin oak showing up in a long, harmonious finish. Lovely wine. (TC)
Château Latour 1990 24/25
Over-shadows Lafite. A massive nose of pure ceder/Xmas cake. The palate is powerful but balanced – dense fruits notes of leather and some spice. Very complex – a huge brilliant Latour. Modern day 1959. 30yrs+ but approachable now (unlike 1988).
Château Latour 1991 20/25
Dark ruby with slight tawny rim. Moderate nose of earthy fruits & herbs. Well-balanced. Cherries/blackcurrant. Medium bodied. Some greenness on the finish but overall excellent 91. Drinking now. Tasted at the château.
Château Latour 1993 21/25
Intense dark core with youthful rim. Aromas of earth, cooked meat and black fruits. Concentrated palate. Medium bodied for Latour. Firm tannins. Balanced. Moderate complexity. Minerally. Quite lush on the finish. Superb for the 1993 vintage. Tasted at the château.
Château Latour 1994 20/25
A subtle meaty nose. Mushrooms. Palate is relatively acidic for Latour and quite forward – more than the 93. A dense savoury finish with notes of dark chocolate. Well balanced with fine complexity. Will drink sooner than the 1993. Tasted at the château.
Château Latour 1994
Big, coffee-ground and espresso-bean, high-toast French oak nose. Mouton maybe? Rather fierce tannins and a muscular, mouth-coating texture in this powerful wine. Juicy black cherry fruit and serious structure. (TC)
Château Latour 1995 21/25
Tasted blind for Wine magazine. Rich raisin nose with black cherry & chocolate notes. Great extraction on the palate – this is the most fleshy Latour I have tasted. Approachable – smooth tannins. Lovely generous wine. Could be drunk now. Mouton is possibly better. Less structured than expected. Drink 2-3 yrs.
Château Latour 1997 21/25
Dark ruby. Pink rim. Nose is quite tight and closed. Berries & touch of mint. Understated intense palate. Quite rounded with subtle coffee notes. Moderate length. Fine Latour but not a classic. Quite adolescent now. 5-7+yrs.
Château Latour 1998 22/25
Dark purple with pink rim. Intense. Nose closed. Very elegant palate of cassis and blackcurrant. Very smooth. Good complexity. Not a blockbuster but beautifully made. Needs another 10 years. One of the best 1998`s I`ve tasted. 10+ yrs.
Château Latour 1999 20/25
An almost impenetrable nose with dense tobacco flavoured fruit. Tough uncompromising structure with fine balance. Possibly lacking depth/complexity to be a classic. Tasted at the château. Missing that “factor x”.
Château Latour 2000 24/25
A stunning wine. Fragrant ceder, blackcherry nose. Sandalwood. Wonderful ripeness. More exotic than Lafite. Similar to Pichon-Lalande. Spicy. Tons of glycerine. Liquorish infused fruits. Develops kirsch notes in the glass. Very opulent, sexy 2000. Better than Lafite and Mouton.
Château Latour 2001 22/25
Deep garnet. Little on nose then woody notes. Very concentrated with ripe cassis, cedar and pencil -lead. Classic Latour. Not extravagant like 2000. A more elegant, feminine Latour. Very fine. Like the 95.
Clos du Marquis 1989
Fine, deep, dark, rich colour. Absolutely gorgeous nose. Redolent of deep, truffly, animal and game-tinged rich berry fruit. Cedar and tobacco notes and a fine, fine sense of maturing elegance. Plate is medium-bodied with a broad, expansive raft of blackurrant and cherry fruit, with plenty of spice and earthy, bloody nuances. Lovely purity and focused, elegant character into a long, long finish. Excellent, but falls apart quite quickly, so drink soon. (TC)
Clos du Marquis 1990
Gorgeous on the nose which is redolent of cedar wood, mint, cassis and a pleasantly animal note of blood or game. The palate is spicy and concentrated with powerful black fruit that has great sweetness and purity. Medium-bodied, classy tannins and gentle acidity lead to a focused, gentle finish with good length. Lovely quality; a classy wine. (TC)
Clos du Marquis 1993 19/25
Leafy green stalky nose. Fleshy/tobacco palate. Sturdy tannins with better concentration than 94. Austere but in a traditional Bordeaux way. Very fine Clos du Marquis. Drink up.
Clos du Marquis 1995 20/25
Tasted several times this is the more feminine partner to 96. A fleshy glycerine rich nose. A well-endowed palate bursting with red fruits. The 96 Clos has more power but this elegant & involving. Superb.
Clos du Marquis 1996 21/25
A beautiful svelte nose : jammy cherry toasty fruit. Still much too closed but with masses of powerful blackcherry. Sweet & pure. Well-integrated tannins. Needs another year or two. Tasted twice.
Clos du Marquis 1996
Almost as deep as the Las Cases and showing very similar characteristics. More open at this stage with more vibrant cassis fruit, cedar and vanillin oak flavours – but very well integrated and with great length. An absolute star and representing good QPR. This estate de-classifies a huge proportion of the grand vin harvest, but even this second wine includes only about 60 percent of the grapes reserved for it. (TC)
Clos du Marquis 2000 21/25
A superb Clos. Still very closed on the nose. Pure blackcurrant & iodine. Dense multi-layered structure – a younger sibling to Las Cases. Blackcurrant, truffles. A great expressive rich wine. Superb.
Clos du Marquis 2001 21/25
Sexy exotic blackcherry nose. More open than 00. Very well-balanced with minerally core. Pure black fruits, Med-bodied with harmonious thick juicy tannins. Harmony on finish. Excellent 2nd wine.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1964 18/25
Tasted at Château Doisy-Vedrines upon the death of Michel Delon. Roasted herbs, earth and leather on the nose. A ripe autumnal palate. Full mature fruits fading leaving it a little tart. Very supple mature tannins. Quite leathery and rustic.This bottle direct from the château, but others may be over the hill.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1966 21/25
Tasted twice, the first bottle was a more muscular version of the 64. But the second bottle was magnificent: ripe cedar and wet earth on the nose. Rounded tobacco infused palate. Very fine concentration. Med-full bodied. Impeccable balance. A point. Could last another 5 years.Superb.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1970 15/25
Poor wine of tasting. Muted, cloying nose. Sweet dried out red fruit. Tarty on the palate. Lacks depth and structure. Low tannins. Very obvious and probably the poorest Las Cases I`ve tasted. Certainly below par.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1971 18/25
A mature musky nose. Nose is angular and a little green. But the palate is surprisingly harmonious. Notes of dried herbs, tea. Quite robust but a more enjoyable claret than Latour 71. Good length. Started to fall apart after 40 minutes. Again, this was a château bottle so beware of others of a lesser provenance.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1975 20/25
Needed decanting. A delicate nose of plum/soy sauce. A smooth more feminine Las Cases. Lower tannins. Doesn`t burst with fruits. Lacks some complexity but still very elegant and stylish. A touch dry on the finish. Tasted out of beakers in 90 degree heat in Osaka.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1978 16/25
Mature rim. Dry sandalwood nose. Good concentration but lacks finesse. Cumbersome. Dry leaf notes. Too tannic/lacks fruit concentration. Falls apart – heavy woody finish. Lacklustre. Tasted at the SuperBOWL.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1979 20/25
Almost opaque. Vigorous nose: tar, ink, blackcurrant & soot. Very tannic & full-bodied palate. Damsons. But harmonious and smooth. Like an 86 – very Cabernet Sauvignon dominated. Liquorice/coffee notes on the finish. Opulent stylish Las Cases – the best of the 70’s. Tasted at David Pope’s tasting. Impressive.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1981 19/25
Dark purple core. Fading on rim. Aromas of wood, ceder and raisins. Medium-bodied palate – mature tannins. Quite earthy. Very classic traditional Bordeaux. A little stemmy on the finish. Very good for an 81.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1982
Amazingly youthful colour; dark, deep, quite vibrant with much less obvious age. Dense, tight and coated in a liquorice and mineral tough veneer. There are notes of blackcurrant and blueberry, and this has concentration. Plate follows through with a cedary weight of cassis that is cool and classy. A savoury framework of fine tannins supports into the finish, before minerality re-asserts and toughens up. A more challenging wine than the P-L for sure, but a little disjointed and not so harmonious. Needs time I think, but maybe doesn’t have the balance and harmony to ever be outstanding? Excellent of course, and this is comparative. Drink 2007 onward. (TC)
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1983 22/25
Dark ruby core. Little signs of aging. Cassis/cedery nose is still tight but very classy. Smooth velvety structure, med/full bodied. Very concentrated with silky smooth tannins. Still youthful – a brilliant wine for the vintage. Will last another 10-15 years. Excellent.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1983
Fine ruby colour with amber rim. Wonderful, refined mineral, earth, blackcurrant and liquorice nose. Hints of violet and charry oak. Cool, concentrated fruit on the palate with layers of flavour, fine tannins and sufficient acidity giving some real structure. About the best showing yet for a wine I know well, so maybe still on the up. (TC)
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1984 17/25
Fine cedery nose. Good depth. Palate is dominated by Cabernet. But good balance and fine herbal, woody character. Moderate acidity. Definitely good for the vintage but drink up.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1985 23/25
Deep garnet. Seamless ripe nose: pencil-lead, blackberry and spice. Superb intengration, exquisite balance. Elegant Léoville-Las Cases. More feminine and expressive. Supple, fleshy finish. The most instantly satisfying Las Cases of the 80’s. Beautiful wine.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1985
Warmth to a deep, ruby red. An older wine. Lovely enveloping aromas, warm and fudge-like bouquet, notes of vanilla and mocha-coffee, deeply scented classic cigar-box, spice and incense nuances. This is still quite young. Powerful tannins and highish acidity give a chewy, savoury appeal with firm black fruits. Nice and long and pure. Very good, mature claret. (TC)
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1987 19/25
Impressive 87. Not as classy as Pichon Lalande. Dense cassis, earthy nose. Typical elegant Las Cases structure, mature tannins but fruit starting to fade and dry out. Typical broody Las Cases. Drink soon.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1988 22/25
Dark ruby with slight pink rim. Opulent rich balckcurrant/cassis nose. A lot of class and finesse on the palate. Very supple. Great depth/complexity. Still some toasty oak on finish. Very fine 1988 comparable to First Growths. Wonderful wine. Tasted 2-3 times in Bordeaux.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1989 20/25
Very fine-Las Cases but not as good as 88. A classy compact nose: earthy/herbs. Wonderful balance on the palate: wild brambly fruits with an austere finish. Very fine but does not have the depth/complexity I expected. Very good but 85 & 88 are better.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1991 20/25
Light brink rim. Fine cassis, earthy, pencil-lead nose. Burning embers. Excellent concentration. Harmonious cigar-box palate. Integrated tannins. Slight dryness on finish. A success for the vintage.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1992
A fine wine for the year from Las Cases. A very deep, glossy colour then loads of blackcurrant and plum fruit on the nose. Nice weight in the mouth with little sign of dilution. A good, chewy texture, plenty of soft, already integrated tannin, good, rugged fruit and a nice lemony acidity in the long finish. Most enjoyable, classy, claret and well worth trying though it lacks some complexity. I imagine this has several more years of life ahead of it. (TC)
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1994 16/25
Really disappointed with this uncharming wine. Red berries/leather on the nose and quite simple on the palate. There is a mineral quality here but it seems so ordinary! Disappointing.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1996
Dense purple colour, quite closed on the nose at this stage, but superb cassis fruit and extraction evident on the palate. Hugely complex and with great length and fine acid structure. Might take some considerable time to come round, but will be superb I think. (TC)
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1997 20/25
Superior 97. Sweet cassis/lead pencil nose. Palate just starting to open. Great sweetness and concentration for this vintage. Elegant, svelte tannins and a lot of finesse here. Lovely pure black fruits – a great 97. Tasted at the château.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1998 21/25
Deep inky garnet. Nose is closed. Minerally & backward. Palate is very well-balanced but tight. Good grip. Just prefer the 99 in sophistication but still very classy. Tasted at the château.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 1999 21/25
Inky core. Very dense black fruit, violets. Quite fem nose. Underlying sweetness. Spicy tannic palate. Huge body. Quite fleshy, more forward than 98. Very complex. Real class here. Tasted blind and obviously a top château. Superb wine – 15 yrs+.
Château Léoville-Las Cases 2000 23/25
Opaque. Nose is beginning to close. Amazing purity – black fruits and cassis. Supreme balance. Dark choc notes. Multi-layered with stunning definition akin to Lafite. Stunning wine – better than Barton. 25+ yrs
Château Léoville-Las Cases 2001 23/25
Brilliant wine. Opaque. Sublime nose of pure blackcurrant/cassis. Vanilla. Massive concentration & purity. Better than 2000? Huge grip. Oozes class. More oak than usual. Wine of vintage? 25+ years. Tasted at château.