Léoville-Barton 2002

My first LB for a few years - I had forgotten how good it is. Dense aromas of cassis and violet, a dense, youthful colour too. Quite tight at first on the palate, very concentrated, with almost pinched tastes of blackcurrant and spices. I opened it at lunchtime for the evening, but it took several hours in the glass to really open, so decanting may have been better. When it did get going, there was a second wave of broader, more cherry-like flavours, with a gloriously lifting finale of blackcurrant and dark cherry. This is only just approaching maturity and probably needs another three or four years to reach its peak. Very fine indeed, especially in the context of the vintage: it’s tempting to go over the top but this is certainly better than most 90s vintages. It’ll be interesting to compare with other 00 vintages in the future, but definitely one of the better LBs I’ve tasted.
As for other 02s, this is way ahead of most of its peers in St.Julien - Poyferré doesn’t come close, neither does Gruaud, and Lagrange and Talbot are far behind. Only Branaire is approaching this level of quality (I haven’t tried LLC or Ducru).
It really shows the improvement in wine-making. Highly recommended.
To be picky, it just lacks a little roundness to plump up the concentration of the cabernet.
93 points

Not bad for a wine that was $28 on release back in 2005/2006…

Too right - excellent value, like so many other 02s. I’ve never understood why the 02 vintage was so pooh-poohed, especially compared to 03. The best of the latter are better than the best 02s, but the general standard in 02 was far higher, at prices which are still comparatively low. I’d better shut up or they won’t stay low!

We had a nice magnum of the 2002 last year at a party. I like it.

Personally I liked the 2003 Medocs much more than the 2002s, but everyone has different tastes.

Thanks for the timely update Julian.

I have drink through a case of halves of this and have a case of bottles in storage.

I share your enthusiasm for this wine even though the 2004 raises the level even higher.

I popped and poured a 2001 on Friday, which had been standing up for a week.

It starts off remarkably accessible - even precocious - and then tightens up and becomes more structured in the glass.

I think this vintage of this wine is more accessible than the 2002 but it is still a serious wine which will last for a long time.

I have a couple of this left, I think. Lovely wine as it usually is. Maybe tonight if I can find them.

Arv -you’re right of course - each to his own

Ian - glad the 01 went down well - hopefully I’ll be getting some 04 later this week.

Neal - hope you found the 02!

Julian, great note. Completely agree. I opened a case of the LB02 a year ago in trepidation, given how the vintage gets panned nowadays. But the LB02 is delicious! an unexpected treat. Not a heavyweight, but nicely balanced. And … unlike any other vintage of Leoville Barton made in the last 20 years, it’s fully mature! happy days…

I passed completely on 2002 Bordeaux. Looks like I missed at least one good one.

Cheers James - glad you’re enjoying yours too.

David - I bought quite a few because they were so cheap. I avoided them like the plague for many years, always finding something more appealing in the cellar; then I at last tried some - which by and large, to my surprise, I liked a lot. Some of the big names performed badly, which may explain the general disdain for the vintage, but lower down the level was really quite high.

It’s very much Cabernet orientated, which is perhaps why a few top châteaux taste a bit hollow, as if they’re missing a component in the middle of the palate. Also, you need to like Bordeaux with a bit of bite and decent grip, which I do (and which ensures that some are still ageing well).

If you’re interested in trying one or two for references, prices have risen, obviously, but there are still some around that are not too expensive.

Those to avoid: Léoville-Poyferré, Gruaud, Talbot, Lagrange, Lynch-Bages, Giscours, Malescot, Clerc-Milon, Brane-Cantenac

Those to look out for: Branaire, St.Pierre, Marquis de Terme, Léoville-Barton, Prieuré-Lichine, GPL.

Gloria is surprisingly good in 2002 as well. We picked some more up for around $25 two years ago at MacArthurs.

Thanks Pat, that’s good to know.

Thanks Julian, that’s a very helpful list.

I took out some 2002 Lagrange from storage a few weeks ago, and it is rather shy wine. Nothing really wrong with it but every thing is in low key. It promised more in its extreme youth. LLC started out well, but the last two examples tried in 2016 failed to impress. Pichon Baron is my favourite super second by far. Pichon Lalande is pretty gawky. By far the best 2002 I have tried is Mouton.

Thanks for chiming in, Ian. I’m glad you - sort of - like the Lagrange. I put in the list of ones to avoid because of the 6 I bought, only two were good, which is a bit low!
I did actually buy some Pichon, but sold it in view of the price it was achieving at auction, along with the Ist Growths. I would have liked to have tried them…!

Wish this note had been on Saturday. I was digging through the stacks for a selection of older bottles, and grabbed the '98 and '99 Leoville Barton. Would have grabbed a 2002 as well if I had seen this.

David - what were the 98 and 99s like?

I have not opened them yet. They are going to stand in the cellar for a few days, then will be opened.

Drinking the 1999 tonight with some grilled lamb chops. It’s a smaller-scaled wine, but classically Bordeaux. Still has some lingering red fruit, a bit of bell pepper, and emerging tobacco and cedar elements. I give it 2-3 more years for total maturity. I really like it, but it’s not for the big wine crowd.

Cheers David, hope the 98 is as good!