Thu 28 Aug 2014

Saint-Julien – The Heart Of The Médoc: Tasting Notes


Léoville-Poyferré's Didier Cuvelier

Léoville-Poyferré’s Didier Cuvelier

Ducru-Beaucaillou and Léoville-Poyferre exhibit two rather different aspects of Saint-Julien which many find the essence of claret, combining power with finesse. Both were classified ‘second growth’ in the 1855 Classification and the quality of their vineyards on deep gravel overlooking the Gironde is undisputed.

Ducru-Beaucaillou, owned by the Borie family since 1941, has been a byword for elegance, finesse and longevity since the 1950s, with only a blip in quality between 1985 and 1990 because of a cellar problem.

Léoville-Poyferré, a very famous part of the Léoville trio of vineyards in the early part of the 20th century, went off the boil then took on new momentum with the arrival of Didier Cuvelier in 1978. He made major changes to the vineyard, completed in 2000, and the property has since been making consistently fine wine.


Ducru Beaucaillou1995: Big, full-flavoured wine with dense structure and present tannins. Still has a long future. Power rather than elegance. Now–2040.

1996: Real Médoc class and charm, just beginning to open and will be better still in five years. Big success in this year. Elegance rather than power. Now–2040.

1998: Elegant, stylish with an old-fashioned touch of freshness from less fully ripened fruit. At its best now but will keep to 2020.

2000: Wonderful potential but closed. Satin-like texture. Serious quality but not ready. Keep till 2020–2050.

2001: Fresh, elegant, scented and open. Why wait? Perfect now. Now–2035.

2004: Potentially a huge crop, so half the grapes were cut off in the vineyard to concentrate the rest. Classic cedary Saint-Julien to drink now. 2015–2040.

2005: Sensational bouquet. Fresh, beautifully balanced. Like 1961, you can drink it young but it will be better left 15 years. 2020–2050.

Léoville Poyferré

Leoville-Poyferre1995: Not a great Poyferré. Full but a bit dry. The tannins impose. 68% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 2% cabernet franc.

1996: The cabernet sauvignon was excellent giving a lovely supple texture. Still youthful but some irregularity with bottling.

1998: Fresh, a bit strict and a touch dilute. The merlot was great but the cabernet was a bit fluid. The 1999 is better balanced. 62% cabernet sauvignon, 38% merlot.

2000: Great year for merlot. A rich powerful, massive wine with lots of matter and fully ripe tannin. 65% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 5% petit verdot. Will keep and improve. Now–2020.

2001: 65% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 5% petit verdot. Balanced, fine, ripe, round and charming. Lovely now. Now–2020.

2002: 80% cabernet of excellent quality. Great now but still a baby. A much underrated vintage in the heart of the Médoc. Now–2022.

2004: Open, ripe, ready to drink. Generous if relatively uncomplicated. Balance is good and wine is ready. Now–2024.

2005: Wonderful bouquet. Lots of sunshine and light but never too much. Fresh too. Decant four hours in advance if you drink it now but better to keep. 2010 is in the same mould. 2017–2030.

Sebastian Payne MW
Society Buyer

Categories : Bordeaux, France

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