Château Léoville Barton is a winery, vineyard, and wine estate in the Saint-Julien appellation of Bordeaux’ Left bank, Médoc, ranked a second growth in the 1855 Classification.
The château building that features on Léoville Barton’s label belongs to Langoa-Barton, Léoville Barton’s sister estate.
A Brief History of Château Léoville Barton & Langoa
The Château that hosts Léoville Barton but also Langoa Barton was built in 1758 by Monsieur de Pontet. Beneath the private apartments lie the crypted vaulted cellars in which silence reigns eternal. The most renowned vintages of Léoville Barton are left to age in the peace and quiet of these cellars to reach their ultimate potential.
After the French Revolution, and thanks to the Droit d’Aubaine (Windfall Law) in France, Hugh Barton, an Irish merchant of Bordeaux wines, fulfilled his dream of becoming a landowner in Bordeaux when he purchased vineyards in the Médoc region. Pierre-Bernard de Pontet sold the ”Langoa” estate to Hugh Barton in 1821 which the latter renamed ”Château Langoa Barton”. This was some time before the famous 1855 classification, and it was in fact the building’s architecture, elegant façade and harmonious proportions that won Hugh over.
Four years later, in 1826, Hugh purchased a quarter of the former Léoville domaine, the collapse of which was due in part to the French Revolution and in part to a complex inheritance settlement. In buying what would later become Léoville Barton, Hugh only actually purchased the domaine’s vineyards since he had no need for the winemaking facilities, already having those at Langoa.
Soils & Terroir of Saint-Julien
The terroir at Léoville Barton is composed of one of the most beautiful outcrops of Garonne gravel, facing the Gironde, in the heart of the Saint Julien appellation, 40 kms north of Bordeaux in the Médoc region. The terroir at Léoville Barton is characterised by its gravel of varying heights which was left by the river over the centuries. Combined with the influence of the men who have nurtured the soils over the years, the terroir is what makes these red wines amongst the most famous in the world. The gravelly clay subsoil helps to regulate the climatic variations of the vintage.
The 1855 Classification
Léoville Barton already belonged to the Barton family when it was classified as a 2nd Grand Cru Classé Saint-Julien in the 1855 classification. Along with Mouton-Rothschild, the family is proud to be the longest-standing family of winemakers in Bordeaux.
The 1855 classification was initially established with the aim of presenting the wines of the Gironde at the Universal Exhibition of Paris at the request of Emperor Napoleon III. The responsibility of writing the classification was given by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce to the Association of Trade Merchants of the Bordeaux Stock Exchange. Its mission was to devise an official classification based on many years of experience and according to the quality of the Terroir and the reputation of each Château.
The Classification was published on the 18th April 1855 and represented the realities of the market and its evolution over more than a century. Almost 160 years later, the 1855 Classification remains a key reference point and an authority in the wine world.
The Grape Varieties of Château Léoville Barton
The 50 hectares (124 acres) of vines at Château Léoville Barton are planted in gravelly soils with a clay subsoil and include a high proportion of old vines to ensure optimum quality. The planting ratio is composed of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc, the traditional Médoc grape varieties.
Watch the Wine Reviews of Château Léoville Barton, Langoa and Mauvesin in Video
Detailed Wine Reviews & Tasting Notes of Ch. Léoville Barton, Langoa, Mauvesin
2012 Château Léoville Barton, Saint Julien, Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé
Score: 93/100 points
The vineyard nestles in the heart of the St Julien terroir among the most beautiful slopes of Garonne gravel, facing the Gironde river. The clayey gravel subsoil allows excellent growing conditions whatever weather the vintage brings. The plowing is traditional, without weeding or herbicide. The grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon (74%), Merlot (23%) and Cabernet Franc (3%).
The harvest was done entirely by hand. After the de-stemming, the berries are carefully sorted, crushed and poured in wooden vats thermo-regulated, according to their plots. The alcoholic fermentation lasts from 7 to 10 days and the extraction is always respectful of the juice by adjusting the number of pumping depending on the cuvées and the vintages. The maceration is about 3 weeks then the juice is drawn in barrels, lot by lot. The wine is then aged between 16 and 18 months in French oak barrels of which 60% are brand new, in a cellar maintained at 15 °.
The wines are topped up 3 times a week to avoid any contact between the wine and the air, the racking is traditional using the so-called “à l’esquive” method.
This 2012 vintage of Château Léoville Barton is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 14% Merlot.
Overall Review Notes & Tasting Impressions
Léoville Barton 2012 features a dark and dense color as we expect from a Classified Growth of Saint-Julien, looking bright yet deep and still with youthful purples to the rim.
The aromatic profile is equally youthful. In fact, it is still a little introvert, although opening up after an hour of decanting or so. Open a good little while before enjoying for the full honest expression of the wine. You will be rewarded by shiny and precise dominant aromas of cassis in a signature cabernet fashion. But it is far from being the only trait you will identify to the nose. Many layers of aromas populate a complex smell, wood smoke, vanilla and caramel, dark cherry, black pepper, meaty notes, fennel and star anise… and much more.
This is a vibrant Médoc wine to taste. The crisp and dry acidity underlining superbly the lively flavors of raspberry and fresh blackberry that dominate the experience. Soft yet granulous tannins on an oily body make for a balanced rounded expression with a distinctive drying granulous finish, somewhat like the sensation of clay.
You are left with the sensation of having here a generous wine full of juicy red berry flavors, an opulent warming ripe berry fruit character, together with dark cocoa and coffee, wood ashes, clove, licorice and a myriad of other deep savory elements. The herbal and spicy element of fennel, rosemary, somewhat minty and peppery too, is undeniable and pleasing.
A complex, layered and balanced wine in a 100% classic Bordeaux style that pleases by its refined, intriguing and unpalpable austerity.
Give this wine another 5 years to soften up and flourish. From there it should easily age and develop positively for another 10 years. This is a wine to cellar, cherish and enjoy over the many years to come. Drink 2024-2035.
2009 Château Langoa Barton, Saint Julien, Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé
Score: 91+/100 points
The vineyards of Château Langoa Barton overlook the Garonne River. The slopes of quaternary gravels bring the grapes to full maturity and then they undergo a rigorous selection process before being chosen for the Langoa Barton. The plowing is traditional, without weeding or herbicide. The grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon 57%, Merlot 34% and Cabernet Franc 9%.
This 2009 vintage of Château Langoa Barton is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, and 12% Cabernet Franc.
Overall Review Notes & Tasting Impressions
A Saint-Julien wine with a rather dark red color, still looking youthful and vibrant at 10 years of age.
The nose is expressive and generous, you can sense the generosity of the 2009 vintage through opulent blackberry and ripe dark cherry dominant fruity characters. Well integrated smoky oak, vanilla and wood smoke together with intense black and green pepper scents complement an inviting, sweet/savory aromatic profile, split between opulent red berry fruit and restrained ashy French-roast coffee tones.
This is a dry and rather savory wine to taste, in a classic Bordeaux style, with solid acidity and granulous velvety tannins leaving your palate with an ashy sensation to the finish. Again, it is split between slightly sweet tasting raspberry coulis, acidic blueberry, and savory mineral tannins that somewhat taste like crystals of salty acid to the palate.
Complex layers of flavors bear the signature of Cabernet Sauvignon and the Médoc origin. Blackcurrant and wood ashes, for a wine that is utterly enjoyable to drink now but that feels still in its youth.
A classy, yet generous Saint-Julien, somewhat austere to taste on its own, but own whose salivating granulous texture will cut through and lift up with opulent spices the rich dishes, grilled meats, creamy cheeses or rich stews you should pair it with.
Drink now to enjoy the still-youthful freshness of its fruit characters, or age for up to 10 years if you’re after more leathery and deeper notes of truffle. Drink 2019-2029.
2016 Château Mauvesin-Barton, Moulis-en-Médoc, Bordeaux
Score: 90+/100 points
The history of Chateau Mauvesin dates from the 15th Century. It was in 1457 that Jean de Foix Grailly became proprietor of the first Chateau de Mauvesin (for there will be two) in the district of “Moulis en Médoc”. At this time it was a true fortified castle with towers, battlements and arrowslites. Fifty years later it was acquired by the family de La Rivière and then through the marriage in 1582 of Marguerite de La Rivière with Jacques Le Blanc, who thus became “seigneur” of Mauvesin.
Soon after the Revolution in 1792 the old chateau was seized by the state and put up for sale in Lesparre, where it was attributed to “citizen” Clarcke acting for the account of … Pauline Le Blanc.
The old chateau remained the property of the family but due to its state of ruin, it was demolished in 1852.
The construction of the present chateau in 1853 on the site of the original chateau is thanks to Marquis Lodoïs Le Blanc de Mauvesin and his wife. On the advice of the architect Perrier and inspired by the style of Louis XIII, the chateau consists of “two pavilions and two turrets, combining elegance and solidity. The façade was upon a magnificent garden with a pond and a beautiful collection of conifers. ”
After 2 years of labour, the chateau remains as it was when constructed in 1853 and the trees planted at the creation of the park constitute this timeless home.
The property covers 220 hectares all in one piece including 51 hectares of vineyards.
Overall Review Notes & Tasting Impressions
With a vibrant and rather dark red color filled with youthful purple hues, this Moulis Médoc wine also boasts vibrant fruity notes of delicate fresh red berries.
Lively blackcurrant and blueberry marry wealth green pepper aromas, deepened and sweetened by obvious oaky notes of wood smoke, vanilla and clove, for a tempting, powerful and pungent aromatic profile.
It’s spicy, fresh, youthful and oaky to smell at.
This is a dry red with granulous and slightly drying granulous tannins revealing the obvious high-clay content of its terroir. Yet, the overall texture feels relatively smooth overall on a round body and a salivating, slightly salty acidity.
Flavors are generous, fruity and oaky, dark cherry, chocolate and caramel dominant. Long, salivating, pleasing and layered finish.
A Médoc wine of medium finesse in its expression, yet a tempting and satisfying generosity, a refreshing fruity expression, and the complexity of a wine built for ageing and improve for at least a decade. Very well crafted, characterful and precise Moulis wine.