TN: San Antonio Wine Geeks - Leoville Barton Vertical


Overall an incredible evening with a great lineup of wines. After dinner plans fell through at the last minute Steve Treu graciously stepped up to host and delivered a small feast in under 24hrs. Most of the usual suspects were there: myself+Rachael, John Blair, Nicole, John Webber and Tricia, Tim McIntosh, and Steve Treu and his wife, but we missed our Chinese anesthesiologists and BillyT.
The night started with a lovely champagne that struck me with its smooth mouthfeel. I missed the name but I want some.
Listed in order tasted

  • 1989 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Decanted about 12hrs prior to tasting, excellent fill and cork. Nose was a little closed but pretty, and the only wine that I got a touch of violets from. Otherwise a little mint, tobacco and cigar box. Red fruit dominated palate, quite lush, and with fine tannins still present in the background. Lengthy finish of spice box and espresso, and a licorice/minty/eucalyptus quality. Really complete, balanced wine, possibly the most complex of the evening. Strikingly young, but so good now. Some would argue to age more, but I like it now. (93 pts.)
  • 1970 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Splash decanted 30min prior to tasting. High neck fill and crumbly cork stained to top, possible seepage just at top of cork. Initially very musty nose with forest floor. After a while it became more “band-aid” like and medicinal, with a minty quality I began to get from most of the lineup. Acidic thin palate, lacking fruit and a short clipped finish. Not enjoyable really and over the hill, but a good comparison to the rest of the lineup. (75 pts.)
  • 2002 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Decanted 12hrs prior at cellar temp. Mont eucalyptus nose with bell pepper, and currants. Big chunky tannins on the palate, but plenty of red fruit with dark fruit highlights and just a hint of greenness. Lengthy finish of mocha and toast. Quick tannic and backwards. A well made and enjoyable wine, though obviously doesn’t have the complexity of the better years. Still, a wine that at the current prices, I’d be happy to drink. (91 pts.)
  • 1986 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Decanted about 45mins prior. Low neck fill with cork staining 3/4 of the way up. Nose was slightly musty, with mint/eucalyptus, leather and band-aid. Medicinal acidic thin palate with a little cassis and cherry. Incredibly tannic and hard palate, but plenty of acidity that added some freshness. Spicy woody finish. Not sure if this will ever come around as the fruit seems to be receding beyond the tannins, which are still present and hard. A good wine and nice comparison to the ’89 which was more lush and enjoyable to me. (88 pts.)
  • 1996 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Slow O’ed at cellar temp for 12hrs, then re-corked. Cedar spice and leather on the nose, and again with a hint of mint. Round palate, with red fruits – cassis and black cherry. Relatively resolved tannins, but those present were fine and slightly sweet. Leather, mocha, cigar box on the finish that really lingered on the palate. This was well balanced, open, and really showing well tonight. Flavor profile was very much like the ’89 but with a little more fruit and slightly less mint. Drinking well now and should age fine for the next 5-10yrs. My WOTN and several other’s favorite. (94 pts.)
  • 2004 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    decanted 12hrs prior. Nose was a little shy but showed some rock, cedar and currants. Fresh full fruity palate with currants, plum, cassis, and black cherry. Drying tannins but soft. Lengthy complex finish showing cigar box, toast, and earth. By far the best of the “lesser” years with great balance and complexity. Didn’t get any of the “mint/eucalyptus” notes from most of the other vintages, was this a stylistic change? This was a more fruit forward style. Load up on this one for the money. (92 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    I had more trouble wrapping my head around this than everyone else. Nose was quite closed and ahy, but giving a hint of reduction mixed with some red fruit and a little heat. Noticeable alcohol on the palate, though this was relatively mild and didn’t detract in itself. Darker fruit profile than the previous vintages and while hinting at density on the palate, stayed light and focused. Medium finish with typical cedar spice and toast. Just seemed really tight to me. Nothing really wrong with the wine and no obvious flaws, but I didn’t find this enjoyable and I really have trouble projecting where this is going. It certainly has no other similar comparisons from this tasting. Just shut down? NR May the others can add their insights.
  • 2003 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    From 375ml, decanted 3hrs and slow O’ed 12hrs, then re-corked. Wow, strikingly different than everything else so far. Dense and dark in the glass. Big expressive nose of vanilla crème and espresso, with blackberries and currants. Big palate, with tons of fruit up front—blackberries, black cherry, currants and even a little boysenberry present. Huge tannins in the background and no sense of heat. Really holds on the palate with the finish showing some milk chocolate, cedar box, and earth. Very enjoyable now, but well balanced and surprising how easy this is to drink with the heavy tannins. Quite balanced. Stylistically unlike everything else and blind, I would have guessed Napa cab. (93 pts.)
  • 1995 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Slow O’ed for 24hrs at cellar temp. Nose was less expressive than most but showed a strong element of mint and the only wine to have a strong element of bell pepper. Palate seemed tight with cedar/wood elements mixed with a little cassis and prominent but fine tannins. Come across as rather boring. Flavor profile was very similar to the ’86 and I can see this evolving into something like it. (90 pts.)
  • 1999 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Pleasant smooth nose with plenty of mint, currants, and oak. Round smooth palate, mostly integrated tannins, and dense red fruit. Medium finish with nicely integrated oak flavors. Resembled the ’02 and like it, wasn’t as complex or deep as the better vintages but was well made for the year. (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien
    Double decanted about 2hrs prior to tasting. Not sure what to make of this either. The whole wine was oak. Nose was vanilla crème, spice and a little cherry. Creamy palate that turned slightly bitter on the finish. I was expecting something similar to ’04 but this was totally different. Given the history and pedigree of this estate, I assume this will turn around in the future. Maybe it would different with a longer decant time. NR
  • 1990 Poniatowski Vouvray Clos Baudoin - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    Never had anything like this, but a perfect choice for closing out a night of bdx. Lovely complex apricot nose, with floral elements. Very deep and complex. Quite sweet on the palate but acidic and mouth watering. Hung on the palate for a long time. But never seemed heavy or jammy. Need to try more of these.

Overall, an educational night with most of the major vintages in the past 20yrs of left bank bdx represented. There were clear stylistic themes and parallels, with ‘86/’95 and ‘89/’96 being quite similar. ’99, ’02, and ’04 all had similar styles with ’04 clearly superior in that group. ’03 and ’00 seemed outliers for ripeness and flavor profile and ’06 was just odd. ’05 would have been an interesting addition to see if the style of ’00 and ’03 persisted in the “better” recent vintages. No formal scoring, but I think the ’96 had the most votes for WOTN with the ’00 being in consideration. As a house, Leoville barton was very consistent between “good” and “bad” years.

Posted from CellarTracker

Recently purchased 04’ barton. I like the 04’ vintage, I have found some great wines for the price.

Great lineup! would have been interesting to see where the 2001 would have fit in. Like you I have heard a lot of people talk about the 2003 and how it differs from the traditional Barton’s. But sounds like it has a nice future ahead of it.

I have had the 03 and 05 - I have not had the 00 - but I think the 05 is a bit more backward and more classic style. The 03 is the outlier wine for me - I think the California analogy is applicable - but not in a bad way. In some ways I am liking California wines more than ever…