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The 50 hectares of Léoville and 17 hectares of Langoa, planted in gravelly soil with a clay sub-soil, include large proportions of old vines in order to obtain the best possible quality. The grape varieties is 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc for Léoville Barton, while Langoa Barton’s terroir is shared as follows 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc. Both properties have the same vinification methods.
The wines are typical of the Saint-Julien area, well balanced wines with subtle bouquets and flavours; the emphasis being on elegance and finesse rather than on power and extraction. This is achieved by picking the grapes at their maximum ripeness and allowing the fermentation to take place at a controlled temperature of 30/32°C. Although excessive extraction is avoided by removing the juice from the skins at the appropriate time, the wines have a lovely deep colour, excellent structure and sufficient tannins to ensure good ageing potential.
The decade culminated with the hot year of 1949, when Bordeaux was hit by an unprecedented dry spell. Cold, rainy weather had hindered germination, which resulted in an exceptionally uneven distribution of pollen. This, in turn, made for a record small crop. With the arrival of summer, Bordeaux was subjected to a heat wave the likes of which it had never seen before. Temperatures as high as 43°C were recorded at Médoc. Early September brought massive thunderstorms followed by a period of ideal weather, which lasted until the harvest at the end of the month. The already small crop was made even smaller, but it produced a fantastically juicy wine that was extremely delicious even at a young age. The wines themselves have more backbone and are more elegant than the 1947 vintage. Indeed, these are missing the concentration which is found in the 1945. Mouton-Rothschild, however, is a capable challenger of even the best 1945s and 1947s, with its ample body and balance. The dry white wines produced were also outstanding, even though they are no longer very drinkable. Conversely, the Sauternes grapes picked at the end of a record dry October produced unique, noble rot wines.