CHÂTEAU LAGRANGE

2017 3ème Cru Classé Saint Julien

EN PRIMEUR

When we tasted with the talented general manager Matthieu Bordes, he explained it was a difficult year for them here. It was the worst hit of the big names here in St Julien by the frost and, as such, much fruit was lost and much re-jigging of the normal blending had to be done. There is 35% less of Grand Vin in 2017 and it is not quite up to the heights this estate has been hitting recently. The wine is attractive - a broad attack is generous and richly scented with dark ripe berries, but we then hit a harder, tighter middle which is less charming and finishes brightly - but without the confidence and the charm of some of their recent greats. They had anticipated they would be able to use the 2nd generation fruit that flowered after the frost - it was 18 days behind the surviving first fruit. They did follow this through and make a wine - but it was not up to scratch so they had to sell it off and not include it in the estate wines. Lots of hard work was done here and they have made a good fist of it. Rating: 89-91 L&S (Apr 2018)

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The 2017 Lagrange was picked from 20 September until 4 October at 28hl/ha, the smallest since 1991, the Grand Vin matured in 50% new oak. The pH is around 3.6 and the alcohol around 13.3°. I found the bouquet missing the same cohesion as the 2014, 2015 and 2016 at this stage, a little light and missing the complexity that this property can produce. The palate is medium-bodied with firm tannin, a little masculine in style compared to the 2016 with a noticeable saline influence. What is missing is the flair and weight of the best vintages of Lagrange can offer, a Saint-Julien somehow “distracted” by the frost that reconfigured the final blend and feels less assured. Drinking range: 2020 - 2030 Rating: 87-89 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (May 2018)

Mid cherry red with bright red rim. Smells sweeter than the Gloria just tasted. A little charry on the palate but nicely balanced by the freshness. Moreish and mouth-watering, tannins already supple with a hint of that char on the finish. Drinking range: 2024 - 2034 Rating: 16.5 Julia Harding MW, www.JancisRobinson.com (Apr 2018)

The medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Lagrange is 100% Merlot and opens with a seriously plummy nose with a compelling undercurrent of spice cake, potpourri and chocolate box plus a waft of sage. Medium-bodied, taut and muscular with a rugged frame of chewy tannins and lively acid, it finishes with an energizing herbal lift. Rating: 89-91 Lisa Perrotti-Brown, RobertParker.com (Apr 2018)

This has been a tough vintage for Lagrange, but they have worked well with it. It has carefully extracted cassis and blackberry fruit, and some lovely, elegant oak dusting. It doesn't have the depth of expression of the past few years, but is extremely accomplished and softly spoken. It will offer huge amounts of pleasure. Tasted several times. Drinking range: 2025 - 2038 Rating: 90 Jane Anson, Decanter (Apr 2018)

The 2017 Château Lagrange is certainly a success in the vintage. Possessing a great nose of crème de cassis, violets, and spicy oak, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a terrific mid-palate, present tannin, but a sexy, forward, charming style that’s already hard to resist. It should keep for two decades or more. Rating: 91-93 Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com (Apr 2018)

A 2017 with serious depth of fruit and firm tannins. Solid center palate. Fresh and long finish. Should come out nicely. Rating: 92-93 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com (Apr 2018)

Juicy and open-knit, with blueberry and black currant fruit energized by brambly structure and fresh acidity. A touch shy on density, but has purity and typicity. Rating: 89-92 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator (Apr 2018)

This is a large estate which, under the direction of the talented general manager Matthieu Bordes, has been on the up in recent years. I find a quite distinctive nose here, at first quite reticent and withdrawn, showing a little smoky character, and it reveals some spiky red fruits, but along with this there comes an unusual note of herbaceousness which I find, curiously, to be quite reminiscent of lamb’s lettuce. This aromatic nuance also comes through on the palate which feels loose, with a rather juicy substance, carrying simple red cherry and redcurrant fruits, underpinned by a rather confident grip of ripe, slightly chewy tannins. This latter structural element seems fine in isolation, but to my palate it does not seem to gel with the rest of the wine. A difficult vintage here Rating: 86-88 Chris Kissack, www.thewinedoctor.com (Apr 2018)

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