I settled into the armchair, lowering myself into place with considerable care. The reason for me approaching the seat in such a gingerly fashion was its appearance; I am no antiques expert for sure, but the floral, pale-gold upholstery and intricately carved frame and arms seemed to me to speak of the 19th century. This was not the Ikea knock-off I was used to sitting it, and sensing it creak and groan beneath me I did not want to be responsible for its untimely demise.
Surveying my surroundings, the chair was not out of place. I was in the lavishly decorated central room at Château Léoville-Las-Cases. On one side was a doorway opening out onto a large courtyard, the buildings on one side part of Château Léoville-Las-Cases, those on the other belonging to Château Léoville-Poyferré. The other side of the room opened out onto a balcony, beyond which lay ornate gardens (pictured below), and beyond those some rough grassy scrub and the waters of the Gironde. I was in the epicentre of St Julien, in the heart of the Médoc. And I was here to assess the 2008 vintage during a week of primeur visits.
Suddenly, my attention was drawn away from my elegant surroundings and back to the wine in front of me. I had caught a whiff of its intense, confident, frankly wanton aromas; in a vintage where many of the wines were showing a rather delicate, crystalline edge to the fruit (especially on the left bank) here was something very different. Here was a wine charged with energy and form. I was instantly reminded, not for the first time, why this estate has such a fine reputation. Why its wines have such a legion of fans. Why more than one or two individuals familiar with its wines occasionally refer to it as “The Latour of St Julien”.
This profile looks at this estate, official (in my mind) head of the super seconds, in all the usual detail. I begin here with the origins and history of the estate, before turning to the vineyards and winemaking from page five onwards.