CHATEAU LEOVILLE BARTON SAINT JULIEN 2016
*Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines Top Wine 2019*
Almost 200 Years Of History In Bordeaux
The Barton family's passion for wine is reflected in the elegance and consistency of Château Léoville Barton. This estate was classified as a 2nd Grand Cru Classé in 1855 and lies within the iconic terroir of Saint Julien in the Médoc.
The work carried out in the vineyards consists of several stages of manual labour throughout the year and in all weather conditions. Pruning in winter is a very complex process that requires precision, experience, knowledge and agility. After tying the vines using local wicker, the next stage is raising the wires in spring to ensure that the vigorous young vines are well supported and guided in their growth.
The vines have an average age of 40 years and the oldest plot dates back to 1953. Complantation (the process of replacing missing or defective vine stocks) is carried out every year to maintain a high planting density of 9100 vines per hectare.
The protection of the vines and the surrounding environment is of key concern at Chateau Léoville Barton. Since 2012 over 12% of the surface under vine at the Domaine has been cultivated using organic methods, without the use of synthetic products. This percentage is increasing every year.
A variety of environmentally respectful practices are used at the Domaine. Château Léoville Barton has opted for a sustainable approach to vine growing involving limiting the input of external influences, using organic fertilisers (natural and plant-based products), ploughing all the vineyards, no phytosanitary emissions, sorting waste and the use of biodegradable staples etc...
The harvest is always carried out exclusively by hand to preserve the quality of the clusters and allow us to carry out an initial sorting. We work with a team of almost 120 people every year at this crucial moment for the vintage.
During the harvest at Château Léoville Barton, the grapes are brought to the vat-house where they are de-stemmed before being sorted on an optical sorting table and then transferred to temperature-controlled wooden vats. The imposing vat-house is the perfect illustration of the traditional approach to winemaking at Château Léoville Barton.
The fermentation process generally lasts a few days during which the juices are pumped over the top of the vat twice a day to keep the cap of skins moist and enable the juices to absorb the colours, tannins and aromas from this marc. When the maceration process is complete, the next stage is running off the wine i.e. transferring the wine to French oak barrels in which it will be left to age for 18 months. 60% of the barrels used are new oak and sourced from a range of different coopers.
Several different procedures are carried out during the 18-month ageing process, the first of which is topping up. This involves keeping the barrels full to prevent the wine from coming into contact with the air.
The next stage is racking the wines. This process is carried out every three months using the candle method which has remained unchanged for several generations. The aim is to separate the clear wine from the sediment (lees) that form in the bottom of the barrels due to gravity.
The last traditional intervention is the process of fining the wines using egg whites. The Oenologist will choose to use between three and six egg whites per barrel. This technique takes place 14 months through the ageing process and consists of separating the egg white from the yolk by hand and then introducing only the whites into the barrels. The proteins in the egg whites attract the floating particles and clarify the wine. A special post-fining racking is performed after 45 days to remove the egg white and sediment.
The alchemy of blending is usually complete by the end of January. It is at this stage that the tasting profile of the vintage is determined in the tasting room at Château Léoville Barton. The Barton family, the Technical Director and Eric Boissenot, the Consultant Oenologist, taste the different batches and varieties to fine-tune the final wine and reflect the very best of each plot.
The bottling takes place at the château in Saint Julien in June using their facilities.
Intense ruby colour, the nose reveals vivid notes of black fruits (black cherry, blackcurrant, blueberry) with a touch of ink. The mouth is ample, powerful and you feel the freshness of the red fruits. The tannins are delicate with a long finish.