Chateau Leoville Barton is one of the Chateaux that really got me interested in Bordeaux wines more than 20 years ago. This was a time when I was drinking wines mainly from California, Washington and Australia. The Bordeaux wines were different than the new world wines – they were not so much about being bigger, stronger and in your face, as much as being more about refinement, complexity, minerality and in some cases, being truly delicate. I fell in love with the Bordeaux wines starting from the mid and late eighties and have been drinking them ever since.
Leoville Barton is a rarity in Bordeaux – it’s one of only two large Chateau that I know of (other than Ch. Lynch Bages), in which the family that owns the Chtateau actually lives in the Chateau. We have seen Anthony Barton the last several years in Seattle when he has come for the annual Bordeaux Fete (notes for these dinners are posted earlier in the blog). Anthony Barton is always the perfect gentleman and a great ambassador for Bordeaux, they also make some really good wines as well. Unfortunately, we were not able see Anthony on this trip and we hope he is doing well.
Chateau Leoville Barton, is a very traditionally run winery in both technique and methodology. The Chateau uses large 200,000 liter wooden vats, unlike the modern stainless steel vats that you see at a lot of the other Chateaux in Bordeaux. The wines that we tasted at the Chateaux were from the 2012 vintage, Ch. Langoa Barton and Ch. Leoville Barton. Langoa Barton is not the “second wine” of Leoville Barton, but is actually a totally separate wine produced by the Chateau from different vineyard plots.
2012 Chateau Langoa Barton (barrel sample) – Subtle red fruit on the nose and ruby red color. Medium bodied, good acid and slightly tart red pie cherry fruit coming through in the mouth, with the slightly dry coarse tannins kicking in on the medium-short finish.
2012 Chateau Leoville Barton (barrel sample) – Darker fruit on the nose and in color than the Langoa Barton. In the mouth, black berries combined with red pie cherries and more complexity. The wine is medium-full bodied, with very good acid and strong slightly dry tannins kicking in on the medium-long finish.
Both of these wines definitely show the characteristics and challenges of the 2012 vintage. I think the wines will show better given several years in the bottle, to help the tannins integrate and come into balance. I have tasted many vintages of both Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton and I can tell you that in general, the Langoa Barton wines will be ready to drink sooner than the bigger brother Leoville Barton. The wines of Leoville Barton will age very gracefully and for a long time. I have bottles of Leoville Barton in the cellar going back to the 1970 vintage. If you want to try a more recent vintage of Leoville Barton that is drinking well, look for the 2001 or 2004 vintages.
As the family lives on the property, we didn’t venture over to take pictures of the Chateau. However, our guide did show us the beautiful gardens, complete with wandering swans.
Next up Chateau Lascombes…