The Great Léoville taste-off at Glaziers Hall

Léoville Barton, Léoville Poyferré

The river Thames and London Bridge formed the backdrop for our comparative Léovilles tasting at Glaziers Hall last night. Six vintages of Barton and Poyferré spanning twenty-three years, two legendary châteaux making wine from a great terroir.

The 2008s set the scene for the evening with an early look at the youngest vintage physically in the market. Barton was the firmer, denser of the two (but certainly not a monolith – there is increasingly a refinement and elegance in recent Barton vintages). Poyferré was the more textured, polished and supple of the pair. These traits were evident and distinctive throughout all of the wines tasted during the evening. The 2005s still have the last vestiges of their youthful fruit character and puppy fat. Very young and very impressive. I strongly suspect these will follow the 2000s and close down for a period. Leave well alone! The 2000s were giving very little away; with the fruit having retreated and obdurately refusing to show, the wines showed their austere and tannic elements. Hold, and come back in five years’ time when they have stopped sulking. The 1996s displayed developed secondary aromas, and also had a green-edged tinge – not in a negative sense, but interesting to note that this flavour from the cabernet sauvignon spectrum was entirely absent from the wines of the 2000s. The 1996s will continue to delight for the next fifteen to twenty years. The 1989s were absolutely spot-on! They displayed a poised balance: textured, complex and persistent scented fruit and savoury flavours, encapsulated by an insistent tannic frame. Whilst great to taste on their own, these will be sensational with a rich dish of beef – which is exactly what these wines are for. The 1985s were both fully mature and a pleasure to drink, showing signs of entering a period of long graceful decline.

Wine of the night to take home: 1989 Léoville Barton
Wine of the night to cellar: 2005 Léoville Poyferré

Adrian Heaven

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