CH LAGRANGE vs CH LÉOVILLE BARTON
In the center of the Haut-Médoc, the commune of St-Julien produces elegantly structured wines. With eleven (11) Crus Classés (Classification de 1855 du Haut-Médoc), St-Julien is amongst the best quality communes of Bordeaux. With many top Chateaux, the competition for top dog in St-Julien is fierce. Both Châteaux Léoville-Barton and Lagrange are usually in the running. This tasting was a unique opportunity to compare 4 vintages of two reputed Chateaux from the high quality commune of St-Julien.
@ Les Conseillers du Vin, in the usual blind tasting format, a group of 16 experienced tasters analysed/compared four (4) vintages of both Chateaux. At this point one must remember that wines from the late 80’s and 90’s were not produced with grapes as ripe and concentrated as today’s more recent vintages (2000+). Wines from that era usually offer higher acidity and firmer tannins and tend to be fresher, leaner and more elegant.
Results: To establish the order of preference of the tasting panel, 3 points were awarded to a first place vote, 2 pts for a 2nd place vote and 1pt for a 3rd place vote.
The group’s favourites wine was the Ch Lagrange 1989 (22 pts), followed in second place by Lagrange 2009 with 17 pts. Tied for third place with 13 points each: Ch Léoville Barton 90 and Lagrange 97. Surprisingly both Léoville Barton 2008 and 1997 did not perform well accumulating only 6 and 3 points respectively.
Overall Château Lagrange dominated this tasting with 63 points to Léoville Barton’s 31 points.
The wines : Order of blind tasting:
1-Château Léoville Barton 1996 (Group score: 9 pts)
A rather lean and elegant 1996 Cru Classé! Showing some evolution. Green pepper and vegetal scents. Medium body and length. Ready to drink. My rating: 89/100
2-Château Lagrange 2009 (Group score: 17 pts
From the ripe 2009 vintage. Youthful nose displaying lots of ripe fruit with French oak scents. Some firm tannins, but remains balanced. Good volume and extract assures longevity (10 to 15 years). My rating: 93/100
3-Château Lagrange 1989 (Group Score: 22 pts)
Complex but still youthful nose displaying some remaining fruit with mineral and vegetal hints. Well balanced with some tannins for further aging (3 to 5 years). Good volume and extract. Great wine! My rating: 93+/100
4-Château Léoville Barton 2008 (Group score: 6 pts)
From a cooler classic Bordeaux vintage. Solid structure assures good aging potential (5 to 15 years). Oak, vanilla and field berries scents. Surprising firmness (tannins) enhanced by fresh acidity. Medium + body and length. My rating: 90/100
5-Château Léoville Barton 1990 (Group score: 13 pts)
Slight orangy colour. Complex nose displaying forest floor and animal scents with some leftover berry fruit. Some extract and remaining tannins. Ready for drinking, don’t wait much longer. My rating: 92/100
6-Château Lagrange 1997 (Group score : 13 pts)
Lovely ruby colour. Evolved complex nose: hints of forest floor with some vegetal scents. Surprisingly charming for such a difficult vintage. Medium bodied and length, well balanced and ready to drink. My rating: 90/100
7-Château Lagrange 1996 (Group score: 11 pts)
Slightly off balance due to obvious acidity and a hint of heat on the finish. Lovely evolved nose displaying forest floor and animal scents. Medium body and length. Slight austere finish. Ready to drink. My rating: 88/100
8-Château Léoville Barton 1997 (Group score: 3 pts)
Evolved nose displaying graphite and vegetal scents. High acidity, starting to thin out? Medium bodied, this classic Bordeaux lacks a bit of ripeness and extract. Drink up! My rating: 87/100
Photo: Rhône Valley