With one of the longest and most pedigreed histories in the Medoc region, Chateau Leoville-Las-Cases has passed through the hands of some of France’s most notable and wealthiest noble families, culminating in the Las Cases family - the final royal family to hold title to the Chateau. Up until the French Revolution, after which large portions of it were sold off, it was one of the largest vineyards in Bordeaux.
Today, the estate remains family owned by the Delons, of which brother Jean Hubert and sister Genevieve manage proceedings. Famed for producing a wine of structure, power, and traditional style, the 2016 vintage has earned outstandingly high praise, including a score of 100 from Andrew Caillared and a 19/20 from Jancis Robinson who praised its “extraordinary vitality and energy” and proclaimed it “glorious to taste now.”
A wine that can be perplexing to taste is the 1982 Léoville Las Cases. I purchased a good bit of this wine as a wine future in 1983, and rated it 100 points early on. But I have rarely had a bottle from my own cellar that performed that well. Two recent examples, this one and one in Asia, were clearly as profound and compelling as any Léoville Las Cases could ever be. At this dinner I had several glasses from different bottles, and the wine was always extraordinary with a dense purple color that is just beginning to lighten at the edge, and lots of lead pencil, sweet black and redcurrant, cherry, dusty loamy soil, new saddle leather and spice box characteristics. This full-bodied, opulent, rich 1982 is a killer example of Las Cases. Virtually all of the bottles from my cellar still display a tannic, firm grip and have not performed this well. 100 points, Hedonist’s Gazette (7/2013).
Still stubbornly backward, yet beginning to budge from its pre-adolescent stage, this dense, murky ruby/purple-coloured wine offers up notes of graphite, sweet caramel, black cherry jam, cassis and minerals. The nose takes some coaxing and the decanting of 22-24 hours prior to service is highly recommended. For such a low-acid wine, it is huge, well delineated, extremely concentrated, and surprisingly fresh. Perhaps because I lean more toward the hedonistic view of wine than the late Michel Delon, I have always preferred this to the 1986, but the truth is that any lover of classic Médoc should have both vintages in their cellars as they represent perfection in the glass. This wine has monstrous levels of glycerin, extract, and density, but still seems very youthful and tastes more like a 7-8 year-old Bordeaux than one that is past its 20th birthday. A monumental effort. 100 points (12/2003).
I have had perfect bottles of this cuvee, but, perplexingly, the bottles from my cellar tend to be broodingly backward and require plenty of coaxing. This huge wine is, in many ways, just as massive as Leoville Barton, but it possesses a greater degree of elegance as well as unreal concentration. Classic lead pencil, cassis, kirsch, cedar, and spice characteristics are abundant in both the nose and full-bodied flavors. The tannins are still there, and, at least from my cellar, this 1982 does not appear to have changed much in the last 10-12 years. One wonders how much patience admirers of this brilliant St.-Julien will continue to exhibit. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2050. 95+ points, The Wine Advocate (6/2009).
Tasted three times over a two month period, this youthful yet profoundly complex wine gets my nod as the finest Leoville-Las-Cases ever made. It reveals massive proportions yet extraordinary purity, elegance, and balance. This dense ruby/purple-colored 1982 still looks and tastes as if it were 5-8 years old. The nose offers up blazingly well-delineated, pure aromas of creme de cassis, cherry jam, minerals, and toasty new oak. This unctuously-textured, gorgeously rich, pure, super-concentrated, low acid effort concludes with a 45+ second finish. There is still tannin to shed in this unbelievably fresh, lively, full-bodied, vibrant wine. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2035. 100 points, Wine Advocate (6/2000).
Small but mighty, the appellation of St.-Julien, on Bordeaux’s Left Bank, has long enjoyed a reputation for exceptional quality and consistency. Compared to its neighbours in Bordeaux, St.-Julien produces the highest proportion of classified-growth wines, with more than three-quarters of the vineyards devoted to top-ranked producers. They include several “Super Second” chateaux and many other outstanding classified growths and Cru Bourgeois. Saint-Julien wines are beautifully balanced, with a great richness, depth of colour, and elegance. Cabernet Sauvignon prevails, with Merlot and Cabernet Franc used for blending in the classic Bordeaux style.