2017 Saint Julien


72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc. As ever this is not a second wine but a distinct wine in it's own right and a very good effort it is too for 2017. Nose here is quite serious, cabernet loaded and quite restrained for now. Classic shape on entry this has good gentle power. Actually quite a sleek core of good dark brambling fruit, but all checked by a mineral almost salty spray. Deep red fruit weight builds and some nice spice too. Detailed, quite dense and good lines, then finishes with talc-like, very fine tannins. Rating: 91 - 92 L&S (Apr 2018)

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The 2017 Clos du Marquis was cropped at 37hl/ha between 15 September and 4 October during an overall 15 days of actual picking. It is matured in 55% new oak and includes 6.2% vin de presse from 25 different lots. It has a more backward, tightly wound bouquet than I was expecting but it opens up with time. And wow, give it 10 minutes and that estuarine saline scent feels quite pungent. There is impressive density imbued into this Clos du Marquis, if not the detail, the precision of last year’s wine. There is plenty of “rondeur” towards the finish with a pleasant saltiness flanked by a hint of salted liquorice on the finish. Drinking range: 2022 - 2036 Rating: 90-92 Neal Martin, (May 2018)

Cabernet Sauvignon focus (72%) with the older vines. 27% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc. 55% new oak. pH 3.73, IPT 65. Deepest crimson with black core. Gorgeous dark fruit, with savoury/graphite as counterpoint to the cassis. A hint of oak char but at the right level for harmony at this point. Benchmark Cabernet flavours, pure and refined and fresh. Very precise fruit, long. Firm but dry. Smooth, deep texture and excellent freshness. (JH) 13.48%. Drinking range: 2025 - 2035 Rating: 17 Julia Harding MW, (Apr 2018)

Made from 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, and a splash of Cabernet Franc, the 2017 Clos du Marquis is another beauty from the team at Leoville Las Cases. Offering a deep, concentrated, yet rounded style, as well as terrific ripe fruits, forest floor, and tobacco aromatics, it has a great mid-palate and building tannin, all while staying in the more forward, charming style of the vintage. Give it a few years and enjoy over the following two decades. Rating: 91-94 Jeb Dunnuck, (Apr 2018)

Firm and silky wine with very pretty dark-berry and cherry character with currant undertones. Pure quality of fruit is serious. Very salty on the finish. Bright acidity, too. Rating: 93-94 James Suckling, (Apr 2018)

This takes its time, has a fairly hefty structure and unfurls at its own pace. The last day of harvest was 4 October, but the overall growth cycle was early so they were able to wait for full ripeness, and even though the fruit flavours are savoury, they are intense. It certainly has some bounce and energy, and the balance is there too. An enjoyable wine that should be ready to drink within four to six years, but the low pH and good freshness suggest it should also age well. 55% new oak barrels. 80% of production, with the rest going into the second wine. Drinking range: 2024 - 2036 Rating: 90 Jane Anson, Decanter (Apr 2018)

Blueberry, blackberry and plum fruit is lined with graphite, anise and sweet tobacco notes. There's juicy energy and a nice bramble hint at the very end. Has purity and typicity. Well done Rating: 91-94 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator (Apr 2018)

The Clos du Marquis vineyard is a narrow one which runs in an east-west direction north of the Léoville-Poyferré vines, and so the western parts were more prone to frost than you might expect. They lost 10% of the crop overall here, and rejected all notions of using second-generation fruit. The blend always used to have quite a bit of Merlot in it, but since the creation of Le Petit Lion this wine is more Cabernet-orientated. The blend here is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, from old vines, not dissimilar to the 66% in 2016 and 75% in 2015. The remainder is 27% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. The picking here followed the same schedule as Léoville-Las-Cases, from September 14th until October 3rd. From a technical point of view the alcohol is 13.48%, total acidity 3.7 g/l and IPT 65. This took 75% of the crop. This has a very pretty but concentrated and lightly grilled fruit character on the nose, with tense black cherry notes. It has great freshness, but also a black-olive intensity, and a little floral perfume too. This is impressive, very composed, very correct, bright and pure, with a supple texture carrying tangible textural weight, and very ripe, rounded, firm, velvety tannins. A very convincing finish to it, long and filled with a fine grip. Excellent potential and possibly good value too. Rating: 92-94 Chris Kissack, (Apr 2018)

St Julien Deuxième cru 1855 One of the leading "super-seconds" - a second growth chateau who's wines rival, in terms of quality and often price, the fabled First Growths of the Haut-Médoc. Before the Revolution, the Leoville estate was one of the largest and grandest in the region. At the time, it was in the aristrocratic ownership of the family of the Marquis de Las-Cases-Beauvoir. Unsurprisingly, the Marquis had to flee. To avoid Leoville being seized, the family decided to sell up but the complicated ownership of the estate, which was split between siblings, prevented the sale of Leoville as a whole and, in the end, only a small portion was sold off, to Hugh Barton, and this became Château Leoville Barton. The remainder of the estate came back to the Marquis' family when his son, Pierre-Jean, inherited most of Leoville, the only exception being a small portion inherited by his sister Jeanne. Jeanne's daughter married Baron Jean-Marie de Poyferré and, in 1840, this portion of the estate sheered off to become Château Leoville Poyferré. To stop further divisions among inheriting children, a holding company was founded to own Château Las Cases. Théophile Skawinski, who managed the estate, bought some shares which later passed to his son-in-law André Delon. The Delon family continued to buy share as they became available until, eventually, they became the owners of Château Leoville Las Cases. The bulk of Las Cases's vineyards - the Grand Clos - sit at the very northern end of St Julien, facing Château Latour across the Ruisseau de Juillac. The vines are planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The hand-picked grapes are fermented in an unusual array of wooden, stainless-steel and cement tanks. Wines spend 20 months in oak, with the proportion of new wood for the grand vin varying from 50% to 100% depending on the vintage. Château Leoville Las Cases have one of the most highly regarded "second wines" in Bordeaux - Clos du Marquis. The first vintage was in 1902, long predating most of its competitors. Its status as a true "second wine" is sometimes disputed, as there is a distinct Clos du Marquis vineyard, a little way to the west of the Grand Clos, although the cuvée does include some declassifications from the grand vin and fruit of younger vines. Its status as a "second wine" also belies the quality which exceeds many of the region's "first" wines.