chateau leoville las cases 2eme cru classe, saint-julien 2018
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
We produced great Cabernet Franc this year,” Directeur Général Pierre Graffeuille told me during my visit to Léoville Las Cases. Even though only 3% of the press wine was added back, he was also absolutely glowing about the quality of this too. And he should be—the finished blend for the 2018 Léoville Las Cases is yet another triumph for this great estate. Composed of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot, harvested September 15 to October 4 with yields of 35.5 hectoliters per hectare, it has 14.49% alcohol and will be aged in barriques, 90% new. Very deep purple-black in color, it is a little closed to begin, slowly emerging from the glass to reveal subtle woodsmoke, violets, tilled soil and underbrush scents over a core of warm cassis, wild blueberries and redcurrant jelly plus hints of rare beef and iron ore. Full-bodied, rich, super concentrated and bursting with latent energy, this is an atomic bomb waiting to go off in your mouth. It has a rock-solid foundation of firm, very ripe, very finely grained tannins and bold freshness supporting the muscular fruit through the epically long, amazingly nuanced finish. Simply breathtaking
2018 is another vintage where it's pretty much impossible to find fault with Las Cases, and where you get a kick of happiness from tasting it. Owner Jean-Hubert Delon compares the 2016 to the 1961 and the 2018 to the 1959 - let's all check back in a few decades to see if that's true! But where the 2016 was monumental, this has a subtlety that's rarely seen in such a young LLC. It's not that you'd call this approachable but you rarely see this level of plush density to the fruit at this stage. There's a civilised quality to the structure that makes you think, just maybe, the 2018 will be at optimum drinking before the 2016. You're still getting the complex cigar box and cassis aromatics, with deep, rippling black fruits on the palate accompanied by a cassis and liquorice whoosh and the layering up of dense but fine tannins. It demonstrates precise balance and an exceptionally long finish. All in all, this is a standout St-Julien. This year sees the lowest percentage of press wine ever used at this estate, coming in at under 3% (it's normally double this), because the wine already had so much structure that the normal level of press wine threw it out of balance. I'm pretty sure that I've never given a drinking window this early for LLC at En Primeur, which says something. 90% new oak.
A candidate for the wine of the vintage is the 2018 Léoville Las Cases. My notes on this incredible wine are laced with expletives that I, unfortunately, can’t repeat here. Safe to say, however, it’s one of the greatest young Bordeaux I’ve been lucky enough to taste. Based on a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and 9% Cabernet Franc, from yields of 35.5 hectoliters per hectare, that will spend 19 months in barrel, it offers a massive bouquet of crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, crushed violets, tobacco, and a liquid rock-like minerality. Pure magic on the palate as well, with full-bodied richness, building structure, and a seamless, weightless, yet powerful mouthfeel, it has everything you could want from a wine. It has the purity and balance to drink well in 7-8 years (I wouldn’t hold it against you if couldn’t wait that long) and will keep for 50 years or more. For the tech geeks out there, this hit 14.49% alcohol. Barrel Sample: 98-100
OMG. This shows amazing depth of fruit and density. Full-bodied and so layered with incredible fruit and power. Blackberries. Blueberries. Violets. Hints of dried flowers. Fantastic fruit and tannins, yet agile and energetic. The château says 2016 plus, plus.
This is backward and dense, with thickly layered plum, blackberry, fig and blueberry reduction flavors wrapped liberally in warm ganache and melted licorice notes. A long echo of smoldering charcoal emerges at the very end. There's a lot to resolve here as the rich and austere sides are still melding, but the extra amplitude doesn't distort anything; it just all goes to 11.