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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.
For many the 1964 vintage conjures up images of a truly unique year. It was that in Burgundy, but not Bordeaux, even though the French minister of agriculture declared it to be the vintage of the century in Bordeaux. He made his declaration before the autumn rains began to fall. The vintage was, at any rate, a very good one, quite reminiscent of the 1962, whose large crops produced excellent wines.
The mild, wet winter was followed by a warm spring. The ideal conditions enjoyed during the germination period stayed dry and hot throughout the summer. The grapes ripened beautifully all the way until 8 October, when three weeks of extremely heavy rains pushed into Bordeaux, causing the greatest damage in Médoc, primarily at Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. Some of the region’s producers had managed to bring their entire harvests in before the rains. One of these fortunate ones was Château Latour. One of the less fortunate was Château Lynch-Bages, which finally brought its harvest in on 24 October. This vintage, however, favoured the right bank’s Merlot-driven wines, which ripened well before the rains. There are very few drinkable wines at this time. Once again, the Cheval Blanc and Pétrus rise above the other, also in price. An interesting development in 1964 was Mouiex’s acquisition of shares in Pétrus.