1996 3ème Cru Classé Saint Julien
|Grapes||Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv|
|Classification||3ème Cru Classé|
Like the Fiefs, Cabernet dominates. Classic, tight and straight, but with a richness of texture and velvety feel, and still a considerable freshness of fruit. Really excellent, and the spice of wood that the carefully managed élevage at Lagrange will bring to it will undoubtedly do wonders. Marcel Ducasse is rightly proud of it, and says that for him it is the best vintage yet of Lagrange. ‘The grand publique may prefer the 1990, but I do not like wines that are so thick (épais) - this is more like a true Médoc. Rating: 92 L&S (Mar 2005)
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The 1996 Lagrange has long been my favourite vintage from the 1990s. It was picked from 26 September to 11 October. This is a level up in quality over the previous vintage with far more delineation and complexity: blackberry, wild hedgerow, sandalwood and light dried blood aromas. The palate is fully matured with firm tannin, but sufficient fruit to back it up. This is well balanced with plenty of freshness, tart cherries, allspice and light Moroccan spice notes on the harmonious and persistent finish. Excellent. Tasted at the Lagrange vertical at the estate. Drinking range: 2021 - 2030 Rating: 92 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Dec 2020)
Wonderful aromas of blackberry, light spices and currant follow through to a full-bodied palate, with chewy tannins and a long finish. Rating: 91 James Suckling, The Wine Spectator (Sep 2007)
This impeccably run, Japanese-owned property has fashioned a superb 1996. Opaque purple-colored, with a backward yet promising nose of classically pure cassis intermixed with pain grille and spice, this medium to full-bodied, powerful yet stylish wine possesses superb purity, a nicely-layered feel in the mouth, and plenty of structure. It will not be an early-drinking St.-Julien, but one to lay away and enjoy over the next 2-3 decades. 2006-2022 Rating: 90 Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, www.RobertParker.com (Mar 2005)
St Julien Troisième Cru Classé 1855.
The fortunes of Château Lagrange were revived with the purchase of the estate by Japanese spirits giant Suntory in 1983. Before that, the 20th century had been a difficult time. Some vineyard had had to be sold off (to Ducru-Beaucaillou and Gloria) and the reputation had slipped considerably.
Marcel Ducasse was employed to run the estate, and the new owners pumped in investment.
Marcel retired after the 2008 vintage and the succession passed to his maitre du chai, Bruno Eynard. Bruno gave way in turn to Matthieu Bordes in 2014. Change has been rapid, with a new building program and the cuverie with an extraordinary 102 stainless vats of differing sizes corresponding to the different parcels by soil type and vine age. Climate change led them to question whether they needed as much Petit Verdot as they have in the vineyard. In recent vintages it has been easy to ripen the Cabernet Sauvignon fully, and since they seek elegance, it would seem right to emphasise the Cabernet and leave out the Petit Verdot which is really there to boost the power, but interestingly Bordes regards its omission from the blend on 2009 as a mistake.
Château Lagrange is one of the larger Médoc estates, much of the vineyard lying a little further inland than many of its Saint Julien rivals. There are still 115ha under vine, 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot for the red wine. Wines spend 217-21 months in wood (50%-60% new).
The second wine, produced since 1985, is Les Fiefs de Lagrange, and this accounts for a large proportion of the production, as nowadays only the best parts of the vineyard are ever considered for the Grand Vin. A small amount of white wine, Les Arums de Lagrange, is produced too, named after the arum lilies around the lake in front of the château
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