|Classification||3ème Cru Classé|
Tasted at the château during the 2015 primeur campaign, 2009 Lagrange is opening slowly and moving on from fruit aromas to tobacco and spice. Very attractive, a hedonistic wine that can be enjoyed from now, but which will develop more over many years. Rating: 93+ L&S (Apr 2016)
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First impression is of tremendous purity of fruit. Cool, fresh, palate-coating, so close-textured and even - really lovely. No dip at all as it crosses the palate, rich all the way through. "We've tried to bring a bit of extra finesse and elegance", says Bruno Eynard, "there is no Petit Verdot, which can fill out a weaker vintage, but which spoils the purity of the Cabernet when it is ripe. And the Cabernet vines are getting older...". He has brought in more small cuves for better selection by parcel, so than the Merlots can be vinifed 'open-top' and punched-down, and is working toward a system of harvesting in little cases ('cagettes') as they do in Burgundy and some Saint Emilion properties, but much more difficult to achieve in a property of this size. And through all this explanation this wine is still opening up in my mouth, the fresh cassis attack slowly building and evolving into subtle griotte - it's just perfect. A really lovely example of ripe Cabernet Saint Julien elegance, allied with all the power and length one could wish for. And Bruno is right, this is the best wine they've ever made here. At the general tasting it again showed a striking sophistication. Superb. Rating: 94+ L&S (Apr 2010)
The nose has the freshness of bilberry and bramble but the fruit on the palate is sweet with ripe cassis and black plum. The tannins have mellowed a bit still quite firm yet not over hard or aggressive with the sweetness of the fruit filling out the back palate and finish. 2019-38 Rating: 92 Derek Smedley MW, www.dereksmedleymw.co.uk (Dec 2013)
This Japanese-owned third growth is very Cabernet Sauvignon in style, with firm, slightly four-square tannins, but good underlying acidity and bright blackcurrant fruit. The tannins should soften in barrel and bottle to produce something with considerable style and restraint. 10+ years. Rating: 91 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com (May 2010)
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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