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2020 Château Léoville Barton En Primeur

Released this morning, we have yet to taste any wine more impressive than the 2020 vintage of Château Léoville Barton.  Jancis Robinson was also very impressed, describing it as 'majestic...I don't remember being as bowled over by a Léoville Barton at this early stage before...Such grace!' (18 points).  For context, this equals her scores for Latour 2015, '16 and '18.  Suckling scores it 96-97 points, finding 'mineral and graphite undertones' and describing it as 'excellent'.

We were a little surprised to see a more modest 94 points awarded by Decanter's Jane Anson yesterday (the same score she awarded to the 2015), though she suggests it may increase when the wine is in bottle.  That may be because the 2020 is less open and approachable at this stage than the 2019...but we love that austere quality.  The tannins and structure are more pronounced and promise great things to come.  At 13.6% abv and with fresh acidity, it also has remarkable balance for a wine from such a warm year.

A dry July and August produced a low yield in 2020 of just 34 hl/ha, leading to a 25% reduction in the harvest at Léoville.  Harvest ran from the 14th to the 28th September and the final blend for Léoville was 85.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14.5% Merlot

The magic of Léoville Barton is to produce wines in every vintage which express the terroir and the identity of the estate, with minimal intervention, using traditional vinification in wooden vats.  With the 2016 at £950 on the market, it is also attractive value and is sure to sell out (as in 2019).  For us, 2020 is an utterly classic expression of this wine and it deserves a place in your collection.

Landing spring 2023.

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Château Léoville Barton, St-Julien Grand Cru Classé

Producer Profile

Château Léoville Barton, St-Julien Grand Cru Classé

Château Léoville Barton is a Deuxième Grand Cru Classé in St.-Julien.

Léoville-Barton was once part of the great Léoville estate, which encompassed what are now Léoville-Barton, Léoville-Poyferré and Léoville Las Cases

Irish Bordeaux merchant Hugh Barton (a friend of fellow Irish merchant Bernard Phelan of Phélan Ségur) first settled in Bordeaux in 1722.  The Bartons first purchased Langoa and then in 1826 bought that part of the Léoville estate which was to become Léoville-Barton.  With no château of its own, Léoville-Barton is made at Langoa. This is also the château featured on the label. 

The 50 hectares of vineyards are planted to 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc.  The soils are gravel over clay, with a high proportion of old vines.

The Barton's spent the majority of their time in Ireland until Ronald Barton took over.  He became the first Barton to be based at the estate.  His nephew Anthony Barton, who took over in 1983, did much to define the austere, classical style here, favouring traditional vinification and as little intervention as possible, to allow the wine to express its terroir.  The estate is now run by Anthony's daughter, Lilian Sartorius-Barton.

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