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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.
Château Léoville Barton
The history of Château Léoville Barton is the history of a family who have managed to preserve their inheritance for more than two centuries. From one generation to another the wines produced by this property have maintained the quality of their classification, offering wines at the very top of their appellation.
In 1722 Thomas Barton left his native Ireland and settled in Bordeaux, at that time an important commercial port on the Atlantic. He created a wine company which still bears the Barton name.
His grandson Hugh increased the value of the business and accumulated a considerable fortune. In 1821 he purchased Château Langoa and in 1826 part of the Léoville estate. In addition he built Straffan House in Ireland, which was to become the family home for three generations.
It was Ronald, born in London in 1902 who was again to contribute effectively to the family affairs in France. It was also he who maintained the vineyards during the difficult years between the two world wars.
Anthony came to France in 1951 and in 1983 he became proprietor of the vineyards. Proud of the long family connection with the Bordeaux wine trade, he continues with his daughter Lilian the Barton tradition. Their mutual ambition is to maintain and improve the prestige of the wines of Léoville and Langoa Barton.
The meaning of the word "terroir" includes several elements such as soil, climate, topology and geology. In this respect the terroir of Saint-Julien is acknowledged as one of the best in the world for wine production. Château Léoville Barton is situated in the heart of this prestigious appellation.
Soil: gravel and clay
Production area: 45 ha
Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
The 1996s stand as a “classic” Bordeaux year, although – as Jancis Robinson MW has written – not in the “skinny” sense; although Farr Vintners’ director, Tom Hudson, told the drinks business that it was perhaps a “very good” rather than a “truly great” year as it wasn’t uniformly excellent across the region.
By way of a recap, 1996 was a particularly sterling vintage for Médoc wines. The Berry Bros & Rudd website extolls: “This is one of the great post-war vintages for Médoc Cabernet-based wines. They are rich, complex and beautifully balanced wines, packed with ripe, pure fruit and have the structure that will allow the top wines to age well into the next decade and beyond.”
The Right Bank by contrast are described as “distinguished” but “overshadowed” by the ‘95s – which was an especially good vintage for Saint Emilion and Pomerol.
It was also an excellent vintage for white Bordeaux.
Robert Parker’s scores tend to favour the Left Bank, though a few of the very best wines of the Right Bank received very respectable reviews as well.
Only two wines received 100-points: Lafite and Latour, Margaux was rated 99, Léoville Las Cases 98, Ducru Beaucaillou 96 and Pichon-Comtesse 96.
La Mondotte was the highest rated Right Bank wine on 97-points, Ausone was the next best rated on 93 as was L’Eglise Clinet, while Gomerie, Petrus and Le Pin settled for 92 and Cheval Blanc for 90.
With the passage of nearly 20 years, the wines have naturally appreciated and now that they are well into their drinking window demand will almost certainly begin to push prices up even further for the most in-demand among them.
The figures are often impressive, to date Lafite has seen a rise of 657.9% since its release, its second wine Carruades is up 592%, Latour has risen 437%, Petrus 400% and Pichon Baron 240%.