April 1996, Score: 94-96
This great estate, run with extraordinary passion and brilliance by Michel Delon, has once again turned in superlative efforts – wines that are unquestionably of first-growth quality. The 1995 is a tantalizing effort. Only 35% of the harvest made it into this wine. While most producers were raving about the quality of their Cabernet Franc in 1995, Michel Delon felt it was atypical, and thus he utilized none in the blend, creating an essentially Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot wine. The 1995 Las Cases, which falls just short of rivaling the 1982, 1986, and 1990, has the potential to easily surpass the 1989, perhaps even the 1990. It exhibits (by analysis) a level of tannin unequaled since 1986. However, readers would not know that when tasting the wine. It reveals an opaque black/purple color, and a spectacularly sweet, rich nose that soars from the glass, offering up intense richness and fabulous purity. This is a profoundly concentrated, statuesque wine of enormous richness and character with extraordinary balance. It does not taste as tannic as the statistics suggest, but the tannin will undoubtedly become more evident as the wine evolves. Although it will be approachable in its youth, it will need 10-15 years to hit its stride. It will keep for 25+ years. The lion of St.-Julien roars again.All of the wines in this segment were tasted between March 19 and March 28 in Bordeaux. Most of the important wines from both the 1994 and 1995 vintages were tasted three separate times during my ten-day stay in Bordeaux. Drink: 1996-2021.
In a year where 65% of the production was eliminated, Las Cases has turned out an amazingly profound, opaque black/purple-colored wine that offers the essence of cassis fruit in its formidably endowed personality. The wine hits the palate with an explosion of ripe fruit. Possessing nicely integrated acid, alcohol, and tannin, the 1995 Leoville-Las-Cases is full and rich, yet marvelously well-balanced. This is a classic example of packing significant power and flavor intensity into a wine, without causing it to taste heavy or ponderous. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2030. This lion never falls asleep on the job! Last tasted 1/97.
Michel Delon, a great man, is the consummate proprietor, meticulously administering this vast estate spread out along the St.-Julien/Pauillac border, separated from Latour’s finest vineyard by a mere ten feet. The 1993-95 vintages from Delon are brilliant wines. Leoville-Las-Cases remains one of the irrefutable reference points for high class Bordeaux. In a year where 65% of the production was eliminated, Las Cases has turned out an amazingly profound, opaque black/purple-colored wine that offers the essence of cassis fruit in its formidably endowed personality. The wine hits the palate with an explosion of ripe fruit. Possessing nicely integrated acid, alcohol, and tannin, the 1995 Leoville-Las-Cases is full and rich, yet marvelously well-balanced. This is a classic example of packing significant power and flavor intensity into a wine, without causing it to taste heavy or ponderous. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2030. This lion never falls asleep on the job!
If it were not for the prodigious 1996, everyone would be concentrating on getting their hands on a few bottles of the fabulous 1995 Leoville-Las-Cases, which is one of the vintage’s great success stories. The wine boasts an opaque ruby/purple color, and exceptionally pure, beautifully knit aromas of black fruits, minerals, vanillin, and spice. On the attack, it is staggeringly rich, yet displays more noticeable tannin than its younger sibling. Exceptionally ripe cassis fruit, the judicious use of toasty new oak, and a thrilling mineral character intertwined with the high quality of fruit routinely obtained by Las Cases, make this a compelling effort. There is probably nearly as much tannin as in the 1996, but it is not as perfectly sweet as in the 1996. The finish is incredibly long in this classic. Only 35% of the harvest was of sufficient quality for the 1995 Leoville-Las-Cases. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2025.
Château Léoville Las Cases
If ever another wine gets promoted to first growth category, Léoville Les Cases will undoubtedly bethe one. Owned by the Delon family, this château is comprised of 97 hectares of vineyards. However,unlike most of its Médoc neighbours, it only uses the vineyards classified in the original 1855 classification, an area called “Le Grand Enclos”, to make its grand vin.
St Julien, Red Bordeaux
St Julien is like the middle child of the Médoc – not as assertive as Pauillac or as coquettish as Margaux. It lies firmly between the two more outspoken communes and as a result produces a blend of them both. St Julien’s wines have often been sought out by aficionados for their balance and consistency, particularly in the UK. Yet due to its middle child nature, it can occasionally be overlooked globally and as a result underrated by those markets outside the UK. Despite the fact that it has no first growths, it has several second growths including Léoville Las Cases, Léoville Barton, Léoville Poyferré and Ducru Beaucaillou as well as the celebrated châteaux such as Talbot and Beychevelle.