Chateau Leoville Las Cases
|Listed Wines||Leoville Las Cases|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||18,000 cases|
|Classification||Deuxième Crus (Second-Growths)|
|Second Wine||Petit Lion du Marquis de Las Cases|
|Interesting Fact||Léoville Las-Cases became first winemaking estate to introduce a second wine - Clos de Marquis - in 1904. In the modern sense, this is no longer considered a true “second wine” since it is produced from vines that lie in a different terroir to the Grand Vin.|
Chateau Léoville Las-Cases is popularly accepted as the ‘first among the Super-Seconds’, regularly challenging the Premier Crus in quality. As a result, Las-Cases is the choice of those investors seeking First-Growth quality but for whom the prices associated are unpalatable- though in a reflection of its superior reputation, the wines from this chateau regularly outstrip its Second-Growth siblings in price. Were the 1855 Classification ever to be revisited, Las-Cases would surely be a candidate for promotion.
This view is supported by empirical evidence such as the analysis of Liv-ex which assessed Grand Cru wines on average prices to elucidate rankings adjusted for modern times, with Delon’s estate promoted to the top flight. Similarly, a 2008 Cornell University study examining the 1855 Classification similarly recommended the promotion of Leoville Las-Cases, on account of its average critic score over the previous 35 years, and with Chateau Mouton Rothschild dropping back to a Deuxieme Cru to make way for it!
Given the disparity of pricing (Mouton trades at over douvle the price on average) it is little wonder that Las-Cases continues to perform for the investor. The very strong performance of the estate over recent years (though it has been remarkably consistent in its quality over the 20th century) is greatly thanks to the hard work and persistence of its infamous viognier, Jean-Hubert Delon and his father Michel before him.
The crème de la crème of Saint-Julien, the wines of Léoville Las-Cases are some of the most impressive in all of Bordeaux with a style that has been compared to certain chateaux of Pauillac, including even the wines of Chateau Latour. The Grand Vin has won a staggeringly impressive average of 96.5 Wine Advocate points over the five vintages leading up to 2018.
Multiple blockbuster vintages over the last couple of decades have drawn high praise from most industry leading wine publications.
"The palate is awe-inspiring. The tannins are so filigree, in fact not dissimilar to their neighbor across the border at Château Latour. That seam of graphite lends this Léoville Las-Cases a Pauillac-like personality, but ignoring stylistic similarities, it is the intensity, depth and arching structure that astounds, with detail on the finish that rivets your feet to the spot. Then the finish is ultra-precise, one of the most mineral-driven that I have encountered in almost 20 years visiting the estate, plus it is endowed with one the longest aftertastes you will find in 2016. Yeah, it's good."
Neal Martin 98-100
The early history of Château Léoville Las-Cases is intertwined with the Léoville estate- which was split after to the death of its owner Alexandre de Gascq and with the impending French Revolution. His son, Pierre Jean de Lascases inherited part of the Léoville estate in 1840 and gave it his name.
It remained with the Lascases family until they became embroiled in financial difficulties, forcing them to sell shares to a number of prominent Bordeaux residents, including an astute German businessman by the name of Théophile Skawinksi. Skawinksi took a special interest in the property and became general manager. He passed his shares onto his heirs, the Delons, who gradually began to buy out the other shareholders and won majority control.
Today the Delon family also own two other properties, Potensac and Nenin, and Léoville Las-Cases is managed by Jean-Hubert Delon, who succeeded his father in 2000 and became the fifth generation member of the family to run the estate.
Chateau Leoville Las Cases Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Leoville Las Cases
The late Michel Delon always thought that this was the greatest vintage he had produced. We often tasted it side by side with the 1982, because I always preferred the latter vintage. Of course, the two vintages are quite different in style, with the 1986 a monument to classicism, with great tannin, extraordinary delineation, and a huge, full-bodied nose of sweet, ripe cassis fruit intermixed with vanilla, melon, fruitcake, and a multitude of spices. The wine has always been phenomenally concentrated, yet wonderfully fresh and vigorous. The wine still seems young, yet it is hard to believe it is not close to full maturity. It is a great example of Leoville Las Cases, and another compelling reason to take a serious look at the top Cabernet Sauvignon-based Medocs of 1986. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2035. Last tasted, 9/02.
Along with the Medoc first growths, Leoville Barton, Chateau Montrose, Sociando Mallet, and a handful of other producers, Leoville Las Cases continues to make a wine meant for very long-term cellaring. When I did my earlier tastings of the 2000, my projected maturity dates were 2012-2040, but it is looking more like 2020-2050. This full-bodied blend of nearly 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.4% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc still has a youthful ruby/purple color, notes of graphite, kirsch liqueur, black currants, and lead pencil shavings, with good acidity, the tell-tale purity, layered ripeness and intensity, and a profound finish. However, with its high level of tannin and brooding backwardness, this superb effort needs to be forgotten for up to a decade.
The 2009 Leoville Las Cases may be the most open-knit and forward Las Cases I have tasted to date. Analytically, it is high in tannin and the alcohol is 13.8%, nearly a record at this estate. This blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc was showing brilliantly at the 2009 tasting I did in Hong Kong and at a later tasting. It boasts an inky/purple color, monumental concentration and lots of sweet, jammy black currant, black cherry and kirsch fruit intermixed with crushed rock and mineral notes. As always, proprietor Jean-Hubert Delon has built a massive wine with exceptional precision, unbelievable purity and aging potential of 40-50 years. I was surprised by the lusciousness of this cuvee on several occasions, and how much more forward it is given the fact that Las Cases can often be forebodingly backward and in need of 10-15 years of cellaring (at age 30, the 1982 is still a baby in terms of development!). The super-concentrated 2009 needs another 5-7 years before additional nuances emerge. This is a brilliant, full-throttle St.-Julien.
Having previously rated it nearly perfect, I was apprehensive of a letdown about tasting the 1996 Leoville Las Cases once it had been bottled, but that concern was quickly dismissed once I put my nose in the glass. A profound Leoville Las Cases, it is one of the great modern day wines of Bordeaux. This wine's hallmark remains a sur-maturite (over-ripeness) of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Yet the wine has retained its intrinsic classicism, symmetry, and profound potential for complexity and elegance. The black/purple color is followed by a spectacular nose of cassis, cherry liqueur, pain grille, and minerals. It is powerful and rich on the attack, with beautifully integrated tannin, massive concentration, yet no hint of heaviness or disjointedness. As this wine sits in the glass it grows in stature and richness. It is a remarkable, seamless, palate-staining, and extraordinarily elegant wine - the quintessential St.-Julien. Despite the sweetness of the tannin, I would recommend cellaring this wine for 7-8 years. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2035.
Another titanic effort from the Delon family, the 2005 Leoville Las Cases is probably the greatest wine made at this estate since Jean-Hubert Delon’s father produced the 1986 and 1996. Only 37% of the production made it into the 2005, a blend of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with less than 13% Merlot and Cabernet Franc. An inky/ruby/purple color is accompanied by reticent aromatics that, with considerable coaxing, offer up subtle notes of toasty vanillin intermixed with lead pencil shavings, wet rocks, and enormously ripe, intense black cherry and creme de cassis. The wine hits the palate with a full-bodied, layered mouthfeel as well as enormous extract, concentration, and purity. This ageless, monumental claret requires a minimum of 15-20 years to approach maturity, and should last for a half century. It is about as classic a Leoville Las Cases as one will find. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2060
As one might expect, this is a brilliant wine, but it remains shockingly young, even for the fast evolving 1990s. Its deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by a classic, nearly restrained set of aromatics that includes notions of sweet black cherries, black currants, lead pencil, and wet stones. In the mouth, it is full-bodied, and while technically low in acidity, there is a freshness, delineation, and classicism in this full-throttle, rich, concentrated, impeccable 1990. While still youthful, it is easy to appreciate despite its substantial tannins. It is not quite as backward as the 1990 Lafite Rothschild or 1990 Latour. Anticipated maturity: now-2035. Release price: ($500.00/case)
The 2010 is a quintessentially elegant, classic wine of Bordeaux – firm, rigid, perhaps slightly lighter than most of the other St.-Juliens, but stylish, potentially complex, and reminiscent of the style of the 1986, but more concentrated and powerful. It is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc with a normal pH of 3.56. It was raised in 75% new oak and the alcohol came to 13.7%. This wine displays loads of black currants, cedar wood and vanillin, but needs a good 7-8 years of cellaring, if not much longer. It should last for 30+ years. What I like about tasting at Las Cases is that Jean-Hubert Delon opens one bottle in my presence, and has another already decanted four hours in advance to compare. It is nearly unanimous on each visit that the decanted wine shows better, which probably gives you some insight into the aging potential of Las Cases. It is certainly one of Bordeaux's longest-lived wines, and seems to have more and more of a character resembling Lafite Rothschild more than its nearby neighbor, Chateau Latour.
If it were not for the prodigious 1996, everyone would be concentrating on getting their hands on a few bottles of the fabulous 1995 Leoville-Las-Cases, which is one of the vintage's great success stories. The wine boasts an opaque ruby/purple color, and exceptionally pure, beautifully knit aromas of black fruits, minerals, vanillin, and spice. On the attack, it is staggeringly rich, yet displays more noticeable tannin than its younger sibling. Exceptionally ripe cassis fruit, the judicious use of toasty new oak, and a thrilling mineral character intertwined with the high quality of fruit routinely obtained by Las Cases, make this a compelling effort. There is probably nearly as much tannin as in the 1996, but it is not as perfectly sweet as in the 1996. The finish is incredibly long in this classic. Only 35% of the harvest was of sufficient quality for the 1995 Leoville-Las-Cases. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2025.
I have had perfect bottles of this cuvee, but, perplexingly, the bottles from my cellar tend to be broodingly backward and require plenty of coaxing. This huge wine is, in many ways, just as massive as Leoville Barton, but it possesses a greater degree of elegance as well as unreal concentration. Classic lead pencil, cassis, kirsch, cedar, and spice characteristics are abundant in both the nose and full-bodied flavors. The tannins are still there, and, at least from my cellar, this 1982 does not appear to have changed much in the last 10-12 years. One wonders how much patience admirers of this brilliant St.-Julien will continue to exhibit. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2050. Release price: ($160.00/case)
Only 43% of the production made it into the final blend of this remarkable 2002. Produced from a low 17 hectoliters per hectare, it includes 66.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5% Merlot, 13.9% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot. It has the highest alcohol ever achieved in a Leoville Las Cases (13.5%) as well as a lofty pH of 3.85. Nevertheless, the impression is one of a structured wine with considerable density, a ruby/purple color, layers of flavor, and a classic overall personality. The wine exhibits pure black currant, licorice-infused fruit, huge body, a viscous mid-palate, and a long, heady finish. I suspect this wine won’t be nearly as charming as the 2003 in its youth, but it hasn’t yet closed down, and I am amazed at just how rich, intense, and full-bodied it tastes even after bottling. This is certainly one of the half dozen or so candidates for wine of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2030+.