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Château La Lagune is a 3éme Cru Classé property that produces some of the finest wines in the Haut-Médoc AC. La Lagune's history dates back to 1715 when its handsome château was constructed. The vineyards were first planted in 1724.
La Lagune had hit hard times and fallen into disrepair when Georges Brunet bought it in 1954. He replanted the vineyards and totally renovated the chai. By the time he sold it to the Ayala Champagne firm in 1961, the property had been transformed.
In 1999 the Frey family took over the estate and have worked hard to shift the wine style of Chateau La Lagune to more elegant and refined in style by reducing the use of new oak and focus on enhancing the fruit quality on their vineyards.
The Freys (who also own Paul Jaboulet Aine in the Rhone) have a habit of changing the fortunes of floundering wineries with excellent terroir by focusing on the inherent quality and investing in the winery and vineyard. Caroline Frey has worked for many years to put in place a viticultural process that respects the environment, based on organic and biodynamic agriculture. This natural approach, which is adapted for every single parcel, plays a fundamental role in the quality of the wines.
In the same spirit of excellence as they produce their flagship wine, the property also produces a second wine, called ‘Moulin de La Lagune’, and, since 2004, a third cuvée called ‘Mademoiselle L’. Planted on one of the most perfect gravelly ridges in the region, the La Lagune vineyard covers 80 hectares, where Caroline has been working for many years to establish environmentally friendly viticulture, based on practices from organic and biodynamic agriculture. It is above all a question of preserving the terroirs, soils and vines, but also the health of the winegrowers who work there. The official switch to organic conversion was initiated in 2013, with certification planned for the 2016 harvest. This natural approach, adapted to each plot, plays a fundamental role in the quality of the wines. It allows the fruit to draw from the soil all the complexity and finesse of a terroir, to restore them to us, thanks to patient and precise vinification and aging in barrels using the traditional method.
La Lagune is the first property you pass driving out of Bordeaux on the Route de Vins. It is in fact only 15 kilometres from Bordeaux city. There are 72 hectares of vineyards planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (10%), and Petit Verdot (10%). The grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks and the wine is then aged in oak barriques from which 50-80% are new for 15-18 months.
1982 by James Suckling
The 1982 vintage in Bordeaux changed the world of wine and my life. It was the first vintage I tasted from barrel as a young wine writer working for the American magazine The Wine Spectator, and I was amazed at how magnificent the quality of a young red could be in barrel.
I remember the first barrel samples I tasted in the summer of 1983 at Château Prieuré-Lichine with the late wine author and winemaker Alexis Lichine. The wines were so fruity with soft, rich tannins. They seemed too drinkable for a young wine, but Lichine, who had over forty years of experience tasting young wines, told me that the wines were "exceptional" and "some of the greatest young wines ever produced." .
He had invited some of his winegrower friends from the Médoc to a lunch at his château after the tasting. And he kept telling them, including Bruno Prats (then Cos d'Estournel), Anthony Barton (Léoville-Barton) and Jean-Eugène Borie (Ducru-Beaucaillou), that young writers like me were the future of the region and that they had to make me understand that 1982 was a great year. He was upset that the New York Times and other magazines declared the new vintage unexceptional due to its apparently early drinkability.
It was also a time when an American lawyer in the mid-1930s began writing about wine full-time, creating a newsletter called The Wine Advocate. Many say that Robert Parker built his career on extolling the greatness of the 1982 Bordeaux vintage, although he obviously did much more.
More importantly, the 1982 vintage marked a big change in the way Bordeaux was produced. He emphasized ripe fruit and tannins in the reds as well as a slightly higher alcohol level and lower or less strong acidity – higher pH. This is what gave the wines such wonderful texture, or drinkability in their youth.
This was a big change from most vintages before 1982 which produced harsh, tannic wines that needed years or even decades to mellow. The 1982 vintage became a model vintage for red Bordeaux in the future, and arguably for the wine world in general. Think of all the fruity reds being produced around the world today – for better or for worse. The alcohols are at least two, sometimes three or four degrees higher. The tannins are stronger but more ripe. And the natural acidities are lower. Capitalization – adding sugar to fermenting grape must to increase the alcohol – seems to be a thing of the past.
“Young wines are so drinkable now,” said Alexander Thienpont, the winemaker of Vieux-Château-Certan and Pin de Pomerol. The latter made its reputation on early drinkability. “This is what people expect from a modern wine today. »
I believe part of the change with the 1982 was due to the “California” growing conditions that Bordelias were talking about at the time. The summer was extremely hot and sunny. The harvest was warm and mostly free of precipitation. Grape yields were high, with many of the best wine estates producing more wine per hectare than French authorities had set. In fact, the late Jean Pierre Moueix of Château Petrus always told me that the 1982 vintage would have been at the same level as the 1945 or 1949 vintage if yields had been lower.
However, the experience of the growing season and harvest in 1982 made a whole new generation of winegrowers in the region understand the importance of picking grapes later and riper. They realized early on that wine critics such as Parker and myself, as well as members of the American wine trade, were so enthusiastic about 1982 reds on tap. It was also the beginning of the popularization of barrel partitions used to buy wines.
The American market was the largest market to buy high-end Bordeaux with the 1982 vintage. It began a decade of intense Bordeaux buying in the United States, with consumers buying first growth and second growth as well as Pomerols and Saint-Emilion. Americans delighted in the juiciness and beauty of the wine. They also made a lot of money if they kept the wines sold later. For example, most premier crus sold for around $40 per bottle in 1983 as futures and some now cost up to $3,500 per bottle. Prices for 1982 are now down slightly, but the 30-year price appreciation is impressive after 30 years.
The same goes for the quality of wines for the most part. I am lucky enough to drink top 1982s regularly, and the best ones never cease to amaze me with their generous, complex fruit and polished, ripe tannins. Bottle variation can be a problem because many of the big names have been bought, sold and stored all over the world, but overall it's a treat to drink a great 1982. And the vintage always reminds me of my beginnings in the world of wine
James Suckling has been writing and tasting wine for over 30 years. He worked for 28 years as editor of the American wine magazine The WIne Spectator, and in July 2010 he left to launch his own website www. jamessuckling.com and wine events company. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of Asia Tatler Group with luxury magazines across the region including Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines and Malaysia. His specialty is Italy and Bordeaux, but he loves tasting and discovering wines from all over the world. His last big wine adventure was tasting 57 vintages of Chateau Petrus in the Hamptons, but he also enjoyed sharing great Barolos from Bruno Giacosa, Roberto Vorezio and Giacomo Conterno with wine lovers in Seoul.
by James Sucking