CHÂTEAU LÉOVILLE BARTON
2012 2ème Cru Classé Saint Julien
|Classification||2ème Cru Classé|
83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. Fresh but subdued nose, compact to start but there is spice, and depth in the density of fruit on the mid-palate. Dense tannins too, but the succulence holds sway. Long as the flavour-filled tannins melt and unravel. It is as always a wine that requires a certain patience. From 2025. Rating: 92 L&S (Apr 2013)
*Case price discount: Mix any 12 bottles (or 9l equivalent) of wine or 6 bottles of Champagne, Spirits, Sweet Wine or Fortified to get the 'case price' for each bottle.
As with most of these St Juliens, the colour is medium intensity ruby with lovely reflective pools. Sweet notes of smoked caramel, graphite and campfire stealing in along blackberry and cassis fruits. Overall the fruit register is dark, with tannins that are perfectly integrated but still present, confident and holding the fruit in place. The same sappy saline minerality that I found in the Gruaud Larose, not generous but enticing. 60% new oak, 32hm/h yield. Rating: 95 Jane Anson, www.janeanson.com (Mar 2022)
Tasted blind. Sappy. Aromatic, even a bit racy on the nose! Very clever winemaking almost disguises the lack of ripe fruit. Solid, spicy, something to chew on. A wine with some potential and well-managed tannins. Drinking range: 2022 - 2035 Rating: 17 Jancis Robinson OBE MW - www.JancisRobinson.com (Feb 2016)
The 2012 Leoville-Barton is laced with dark red and blue-fleshed stone fruits, spices, sweet spice, mint and licorice. This is a decidedly understated, forward Leoville-Barton that will drink well with minimal cellaring. The classic Leoville-Barton signatures aren't fully developed. Perhaps I caught the 2012 in an awkward stage, but today the wine is quite introspective and gives the impression of not being fully formed. Drinking range: 2017 - 2027 Rating: 91+ Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com (Jan 2016)
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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