CHÂTEAU LÉOVILLE BARTON
1996 2ème Cru Classé Saint Julien
|Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc
|2ème Cru Classé
The 1996 Leoville Barton appears more youthful than the 1996 Langoa Barton in the glass with a healthy deep garnet core. The aromatics unfurl gracefully in the glass revealing briary, wild hedgerow, black truffle and sandalwood scents -- firmly in secondary aroma stage but with appreciable presence and intensity. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannin that form its firm and classic structure, spice, white pepper and cloves infusing the slightly animally red berry fruit. This is an adorable Léoville Barton that is occupying a very "happy" place at the moment -- superb precision, old school claret at its best. Decant for an hour no more, then enjoy. Tasted July 2016. Drinking range: 2016 - 2035 Rating: 93 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Oct 2010)
*Case price discount: Mix any 12 bottles of wine (or 9 litre equivalent) or 6 bottles of Champagne, Spirits, Sweet Wine or Fortified (4.5 litres) to get the discounted 'case price' for each bottle.
Ruby-red. Floral, cedary aromas of blackcurrant and licorice. Concentrated but quite pliant in the middle palate. Ripe tannins nicely supported by fruit extract. Rating: 89 Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar (May 1999)
This impressive wine is a classic. Although backward, it exhibits a dense ruby/purple color in addition to abundant black currant fruit intertwined with spicy oak and truffle-like scents. The wine is brilliantly made, full-bodied, and tightly-structured with plenty of muscle and outstanding concentration and purity. It should turn out to be a long-lived Leoville Barton, and somewhat of a sleeper. However, patience will be required. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2030. Drinking range: 2007 - 2030 Rating: 92 Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, www.RobertParker.com (Apr 1999)
Château Léoville Barton
Saint Julien Deuxième Cru Classé 1855
The story of the Irish Bartons in Bordeaux started as early as 1725, when Thomas Barton arrived in Bordeaux. Thomas worked as a merchant, mostly investing his gains in Ireland, as at the time property of foreigners was forfeit to the French crown on the owner’s death – but he did own Château le Boscq in Saint Estèphe at one point. When ‘French Tom’ died at the grand age of 85 in 1780, all his property went to his son William, who was clearly a more difficult character. The wine business was handed to William’s fourth son Hugh, as the older brothers all inherited estates in Ireland. Hugh took on, in 1786 at the age of 20, a wine business turning over £2.5M. Having married Anna Johnston, the daughter of another Anglo-Irish family in Bordeaux, he managed it effectively until he as his wife were thrown into prison in 1793 during the revolution. Hugh and Anna were unexpectedly freed later that year. As their assets had been seized, and presumably fearing for their lives, they moved back to England and Ireland, although keeping close ties with Bordeaux. The company continued to flourish despite all this, and in 1821 Hugh was able to buy Château Pontet Langlois, which he renamed Langoa Barton. Shortly after, in 1826, he also bought a part of the Léoville estate, which became Léoville Barton. Hugh's original intention, so it is said, in purchasing a portion of the Léoville estate was to sell it back to the Marquis de Las-Cases-Beauvoir who had fled France during the Revolution. The Léoville estate had been seized with an eye to selling it off, but in the end only Hugh’s quarter of it was sold and when the emigré Marquis returned without sufficient means to buy it back, Hugh’s part stayed with the Barton family, becoming Château Léoville Barton. Hugh also bought land in Kildare county and built Straffan House, where Anthony Barton was born in 1930.
The Bartons continued to live mostly in England and Ireland until Ronald Barton arrived in Bordeaux in 1924. Ronald’s father had bought out his cousins, so Ronald inherited the whole of both properties, and he was keenly interested in the vineyards and wines. His career was interrupted by the war, and there was much to do to bring the property back to good order after it, but the success of some of the great vintages of the post-war period like 1948, 1949, 1953, 1955 and 1959 are monuments to what he achieved. Ronald handed over the two Châteaux to his nephew Anthony in 1983, three years before his death.
Anthony worked for the merchant company, Barton & Guestier, which had been bought by Seagram, until 1967. After that he started his own company ‘Les Vins Fins Anthony Barton’ – it was only in 1986 that he and his Danish wife Eva were able to move into Langoa and he was able to devote himself to the vineyards. Anthony’s daughter, Lilian Barton-Sartorius, joined him in the merchant business in 1978, sharing and finally taking over the responsibility for the properties too, and in turn her children, Mélanie, the first oenologist in the family, and Damien, (who completed a short stage at the great commercial finishing school of Lea & Sandeman), have joined her. Mélanie is the technical director of the family’s third Médoc property, Château Mauvesin Barton.
The 50 hectare vineyard of Léoville Barton is on one of the most beautiful deep banks of Pyrenean gravels in the Médoc, part of the bank that is closest to the Gironde, continuing southward from Las Cases and Poyferré, with Ducru Beaucaillou beyond, which gives it a free-draining upper layer over a clay base which is good for retaining moisture in the driest conditions. It is planted with 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc, and managed to retain a high proportion of old vines. It was classified as a 2nd Grand Cru Classé on 1855, when it was already owned by the Bartons, making the family one of the oldest continuous owners in the Médoc (with the Rothchilds at Mouton).
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