Bordeaux 2003 at Ten Years: St Julien & Margaux

Cross the Ruisseau de Juillac, the rather elegant drainage channel that defines where the vineyards of Château Latour end, and where those of Château Léoville Las-Cases begin, and we have entered St Julien. Although all the excitement at the time these wines were released nearly ten years ago seemed to surround St Estèphe, and perhaps Pauillac, there were certainly some cracking wines made here in St Julien. As you might suspect, they came from the usual suspects, including the ever-reliable Léoville trio, led by the recently reborn Château Léoville-Poyferré (in 2003 ‘recently’ was correct I think – although ten years on, we have all by now grown accustomed to seeing high quality wines coming from this estate). As for Margaux….well, this appellation varies from the sublime to the decrepit. But then there’s nothing new there, is there?

St Julien 2003

Having said that there is definite success here, the wines are certainly not at the level demonstrated by Château Latour or Château Cos d’Estournel, nor are they at the level of quality seen here in the 2005, 2009 or 2010 vintages. Nevertheless, they certainly compared well with many other wines of the left bank in this vintage. Château Léoville-Poyferré leads the pack, ever-so-slightly, with a very convincing performance. Following on close behind are Château Léoville-Barton and Château Léoville Las-Cases, showing the value of their terroir in this vintage. Even if it is a little gravelly, it seems.

Bordeaux 2003

After that, the commune throws forth a collection of good but not stunning wines, all at much the same level of quality. The ever-gamey and earthy Château Talbot, a very attractive Château Beychevelle and also Château Branaire-Ducru are perhaps slightly superior, but there are good efforts from Château Gloria, Château Lagrange and Château Saint-Pierre all vying for some attention. They do tend towards the richer, softer style that typifies the vintage, with the same fruit character, but take each one individually and you will have a good wine on your hands, provided you are up for a little seductive, low-acid sluttiness.

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