Bordeaux 2014 in barrel: Successful Saint Julien
By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com
Faves include Langoa and Léoville Barton, Ducru Beaucaillou and Beychevelle. Most are excellent…
Well high-ho! Saint Julien is one of the most consistently positive appellations from barrel in 2014. OK, not every estate is at its very best. I mean, take the rather hard and all-too Pauillac like Léoville Las Cases: I mean, if you are a masochist, maybe you’ll go gaga over it. Not me. It is too far away from the sumptuous glory of, say, the 2009. Anyway, let’s not get picky. As most readers know, Saint Julien has no first growths but many super seconds and other lovely wines. And almost all of them live up to their pedigrees. If prices are right, Saint Julien is not a bad place to be for Bordeaux 2014 futures buyers.
Wines in bold I liked particularly, when red and bold even more and when underlined, too, wine nirvana.
Tasted non-blind at the estates
Château Léoville Las Cases: It is said that this super second often resembles Pauillac more than Saint Julien and 2014 is a text book example. I felt as if I were tasting Pichon Baron. While not far from the level of alcohol of the LLC in 2009, at 13.8%, the acidity was very high at 4.11 grams per liter (and under 3.5 pH). Coupled with high tannin, this came across as quite “Old School” in the somewhat hard finish. But the mid palate is ample and full-bodied, with plenty of substance. Barrel aging – 85% new oak – will soften this up, but I think that this will be a wine that will close down for a long time before entering a proper drinking window. Impressive indeed, but lacks the grace of the top wines in this vintage. Score to go up when I am dead. 90-92+
Château Ducru Beaucaillou: Like Léoville Las Cases, this wine resembles Pauillac with noticeable tannin. But it has a silkier texture. The attack envelops the palate, certainly full-bodied, with pure expressions of ripe red and dark fruits. The barrel sample showcases more structure than charm, but there is much depth and an echoing finish. The 90% Cabernet Sauvignon has high tannin that barrel aging should soften into something quite special. 92-94+
Saint Julien tasted blind at the UGCB
Lots of positives. I cannot recall having had a better Langoa Barton en primeur, to take one. And how about Beychevelle! Pretty great showing. These were tasted just after a series of Haut Médocs and I noticed a step up in quality, with an added layer of opulence. As François Nony of Château Caronne Ste Gemme remarked, Saint Julien had less rain than the southern Médoc, and that may be a factor to the success. Perhaps also given a higher proportion of Cabernet in the blends when compared to some of the Haut Médocs.
Château Beychevelle: I just had to underline this as what should be a great price/quality ratio. Sumptuous and rich nose. Very smooth and one notices an immediate lift on the palate. Some hint of extraction but it is actually quite sap filled and delicious – and even floral. Lovely stuff. Indeed, tasted again and it is floral and elegant and miles ahead of all the Haut Medocs tasted before. Bravo! 91-94
Château Talbot: Slightly more vegetal on the nose. Plant like. Smooth mid palate with a fine tannic grain. The high tannin and acidity balanced by highish alcohol, so one can appreciate red and black fruit characteristics. Not as impressive as first wine – perhaps the weakest of the Saint Juliens. 88-90
Château Leoville Poyferre: Sumptuous and rich nose. The palate is medium plus bodied, high tannin and highish acidity and alcohol. Red and black fruit on the mid palate. A hint of extraction on the finish but overall, keep in mind, the mellowing effect of barrel aging. There is a glossy touch to this wine. Tasted at the estate as well, with similar impression. 90-93
Château Leoville Barton: Floral aromatics – a mix of rose petal and stems… Brisk attack, smooth enveloping mid palate, high acidity, high tannins, with a broad and medium plus finish. Substantial mid palate… Impressive. If this wine comes out economically priced, get it. Potential for higher score with bottle aging. 91-93+
Château Branaire Ducru: Overall feeling of Juicy Fruit on the mid palate and there is high tannin and high dry extract so this is a long run wine. The finish is marked by a touch of noticeable extraction. Fellow taster Neil Beckett remarked that “it is trying too hard”. I’m not sure, but I like the overall substance and suspect that it will be smooth and delicious once in bottle. 89-91
Château Saint Pierre: Rich and sumptuous overall – very velvety on the attack. The mid palate is broad yet focused. High tannin, high acidity medium plus to high alcohol, quite fruit liqueur aspects with cassis and plum. Full body and long but tonic. Great stuff! 90-93
Château Gloria: Nose is not as expressive as the preceding wine. This has power on the palate. Rich. A bit dry on the finish but overall full bodied and high tannin with medium plus alcohol. 89-91+
Château Lagrange: Ripe black fruit and floral aromatics. Medium plus to full body. Very elegant impression here, with substance and charm. Barrel aging will round it out and I suspect that this is a very fine wine in the making. Overall impression of juiciness with fine lift on the finish Bravo! 90-93
Château Gruaud Larose: Subtle aromatics. Juicy and straightforward. Smooth and medium+ body. There is high tannin and acidity, with medium plus alcohol, with well-managed extraction is. Barrel aging will make it even a smoother pearl. Not quite as elegant an impression as the preceding wine but still very good. 90-92
Château Langoa Barton: Fine tannic grain – a rather gorgeous palate texture! This wine is at once smooth, rich and fruit driven with “mineral” aspects. Tonic medium plus finish, fullish body. Gorgeous. Along with Beychevelle, this wine makes for a nice pair of surprisingly excellent bookends for this Saint Julien series. 91-94