La Reserve de Leoville Barton, St. Julien, 2nd Wine of Chateau Leoville Barton, 2014

Quite deep coloured, this shows great purity of fruit and is wonderfully approachable, the ripeness wrapping a dense steely core. And full tannins.

Grape Variety: 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc

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£38.99

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La Reserve de Leoville Barton, St. Julien, 2nd Wine of Chateau Leoville Barton, 2014

Tasting Note

Quite deep coloured, this shows great purity of fruit and is wonderfully approachable, the ripeness wrapping a dense steely core. And full tannins.

Grape Variety

72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc

Producer Info

With the same ownership and winemaking team as Langoa-Barton, this second growth is generally considered to have the better terroir and produces denser, more complex wines, but at a higher price. With 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc, the wines here are for St.-Julien purists, combining finesse and elegance with fine structure. Although the last 30 years has seen a string of stellar wines, prices, whilst high, are more reasonable than those of its peers. The second wine, La Reserve, is one of the great values of the region.

Regional Info

Saint-Julien is a small but important red wine appellation of the Haut-Médoc district on the Left Bank of Bordeaux in south-western France. Its reputation is based on its status as a reliable source of consistently elegant, age-worthy wines.

Sandwiched between the more famous appellations of Pauillac and Margaux, Saint- Julien is sometimes unfairly overlooked because it does not have a first growth chateau in the 1855 Bordeaux classification. Pauillac has three of the five Médoc first growths and Margaux has one.

Saint-Julien makes up for this by being home to 11 classed growths, which generate three-quarters of the appellation’s output. Five of these are highly rated second growths: Châteaux Léoville-Las Cases, Léoville Poyferré, Léoville Barton, Gruaud- Larose and Ducru-Beaucaillou. The first three were once a single estate, which would have been extremely large for its time. The third growths are Langoa-Barton and Lagrange; the fourth growths are Châteaux Beychevelle, Branaire-Ducru, Talbot and Saint-Pierre. All but the latter property are likely to be familiar to most collectors; Château Saint-Pierre is relatively small with 17 hectares (42 acres) of vineyard which supply a wine made at the unclassified Château Gloria.

Almost every acre of the Saint-Julien commune is covered with vines, except for a strip about 500 meters (1600ft) wide on the silted banks of the Gironde estuary to the west. The châteaux which own them can be split into two neat groups: those around the village of Saint-Julien-Beychevelle and those around the village of Beychevelle. These two similarly named villages are only 2 kilometers (1.5 miles) apart, which illustrates the smallness of scale that operates in the Médoc. In fact, the vineyards in the north of Saint-Julien back directly onto the vineyards of Château Latour in Pauillac, yet the wines they produce are different in both status and style.

The appellation laws for Saint-Julien – established in 1936 with many other regulations in Bordeaux – state that its wines must be made from grapes grown in the commune of Saint-Julien Beychevelle, or very specific parts of the communes of Cussac and Saint-Laurent. The document lists the plots (parcelles) eligible for the title.

The grapes permitted for use here are Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenère, Petit Verdot and Malbec. They must come from vineyards planted to a minimum density of 6500 plants per hectare (2631 per acre), with specified vine-management techniques.

Saint-Julien is bordered to the west by the Saint-Laurent commune, whose wines are eligible only for the wider Haut-Médoc appellation. An example of the effect of this can be found in Saint-Laurent’s Chateau Belgrave. It lies just a few hundred meters from Château Lagrange, which can claim the valuable Saint-Julien name, yet Chateau Belgrave cannot.

As is the case with many other prestigious Bordeaux appellations, national and foreign investment is common in Saint-Julien. Châteaux here are owned by a combination of wealthy individuals and international companies.

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