1998 Château Léoville Barton

Community Tasting Note


90 Points

Thursday, November 22, 2012 - Day later from memory. Can't remember what I said last time I tried this, but I seem to recall I was less than thrilled. Maybe a little green? Oh well, we'll find out soon enough. Tonight it was in the zone, requiring about a half hour to shake off a little dust. Then it was a beautifully representative St. Julien, full of inviting blackberry and cassis fruit, and classic overtones of cedar and tobacco. Ripe but not at all extracted, easy to see it as a midpoint between the perfume of Margaux and the structure of Pauillac, just like it used to be. At its peak and holding for 10-15 years, as a guess.

My cellar used to be dominated by Bordeaux-then came Parker, then auction insanity, domestic and international. Now I almost never buy a bottle of Bordeaux for more than $30, the value just isn't there. A quick check of wine-searcher said today this bottle retails on average for $107 in what was considered an average-to-good left bank vintage, and Leoville Barton has always been fairly priced in comparison to more rapacious chateaux of comparable quality. Net net, I realize it's unlikely I will ever replenish my cellar with wines of breed and finesse like this again-I'll have to start going slow on what remains of the glory of Bordeaux. With crazy prices, modern winemaking trends, and global warming, it's arguable that the entire experience can ever be replenished.

---Looked back and last note was from 2006. Serves me right for not waiting the requisite 10 years. Quite a different story now, and unless it's bottle variation I was flat out wrong 6 years ago. Live and learn, a key lesson being to trust properties that have a long track record for integrity and consistent quality.

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