Leoville Barton 2017 is the first release of the week at GBP 654.
For years Barton was bought on sight, such was the power of its brand and unbelievable consistency of both quality and pricing of their wines. Over the last decade the owners have not sought the fame or glamour of many surrounding Medoc estates, building dramatic new wineries, realigning their vineyards into rows that match moonbeams, or expensively redesigning their labels. They have just got on managing their vines and creating brilliant wines that express their rare terroir. As ratings for the 2017 show, they are right at the top of their game – not just against the ‘rival’ Leovilles, but in direct comparison to the Left Bank and indeed the whole of Bordeaux.
As Neal Martin states (in addition to his effusive praise above, from his main Bordeaux report) “this is nudging (not equaling, nudging!) the 2016 in terms of quality and there are just a handful of properties where I can state that this year.”
Likewise Antonio Galloni pours praise on the 2017 Barton, rating it alongside Le Pin, Trotanoy and Cheval Blanc to name just a few, calling it as “One of the few truly exceptional Left Bank wines of the vintage”
Jeb Dunnuck and James Suckling are similarly positive with high scores and some choice descriptors: “a classic, powerhouse wine… With fabulous purity”(94-96 JD)“a really excellent Leoville-Barton with wonderful cabernet sauvignon character” (94-95 JS).
With a 12% discount in release price from the 2016 (and the same scores from Neal and Antonio) this looks a smart buy.
There will clearly be some ‘big-name’ action this week as we have followed Barton with Montrose. Once again Montrose has shown the capabilities of its sublime terroir with a remarkable 2017, which has been released today at GBP 1180. This is unquestionably the fourth top class wine from this venerated St Estephe address in as many years, and all four show off the variation of the individual vintages. It will arguably make the finest mini-vertical of the decade!
Montrose seems to be able to do what very few producers outside the First Growths can do: to blend poise and power, structure and freshness, precision with scale. I distinctly recall being blown away
by the complexity of the aromatics, the clarity and finesse of structure, the weight and character of fruit. It was one of our most memorable tastings of the 2017 En Primeur trip.
The critics are very upbeat on this one – indeed it is one of the top-rated wines in the Wine Advocate report with potential for a massive 99pts. Lisa Perrotti-Brown states “this is one of the greatest Montrose's I have tasted!”and Neal Martin praises its “palpable sense of energy”.Aswith near-neighbour Cos, the relative value looks attractive – estimated at around 20% below market based on price vs. scores.
Another St Julien that displays the best of what the 2017 vintage can offer has been released this afternoon in the form of Leoville Poyferre at GBP 665.
Much like St Estephe superstar Montrose this morning, Leoville Poyferre is an estate that has delivered four sublime wines in four vintages; they are on a serious roll and this quadrumvirate from 2014 to 2017 is quite the way for long-standing boss Didier Cuvelier to take his retirement leave.
Didier’s assessment of his final vintage is a wine that has “the charm of 2012, the power of 2014 and the elegance of 2015.”This seems a pretty sound way to describe it – it’s certainly not ‘the same’ as any of the vintages that have preceded it. It has the fleshiness of fruit we’ve come to love with this property, but with a new level of precision. It also has the aromatic hedonism, but with a fine, mineral restraint. The one signature element that really sets Poyferre apart from its peers is the sensual texture and mouthfeel which combines filigree, supple tannins with ultra-fine, well-integrated acidity.
As Antonio Galloni puts it “the 2017 is at once gracious and powerful”and Jeb Dunnuck agrees, opining “where too many wines in the vintage can be straight and a touch charmless, this beauty dishes out tons of pleasure!”