2016 Chateau Leoville Barton, St-Julien, Bordeaux, France – MAGNUM

2016 Chateau Leoville Barton, St-Julien, Bordeaux, France – MAGNUM





The 2016 Leoville-Barton is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot picked from 29 September until 13 October, matured in 60% new oak and delivering 13% alcohol.

“One might expect Bordeaux, with its long history and lofty reputation, to be a staid environment. But the region is facing change. Corporations are invading, styles are shifting, and markets are wary. Yet at its core, Bordeaux remains about terroir and tradition. Château Léoville Barton, which has been owned by the Barton family since the 19th century, epitomizes the best of classic Bordeaux: character, elegance and ageability.

The Barton family has deep roots in Bordeaux. A native of Ireland, Thomas Barton settled in Bordeaux in 1725 to launch a wine merchant business. Thomas’ grandson Hugh was the first to purchase vineyards there. During the French Revolution, Hugh and other foreign nationals living in Bordeaux were arrested and their assets seized. After eventually being released, Hugh returned to England and managed the business from afar, buying Château Langoa in 1821 and a plot of the Léoville estate in 1826, which he renamed Léoville Barton. The latter estate earned its second-growth status in the famed 1855 Classification; the Barton family has the distinction of being one of only three Bordeaux families to continuously own their estate since the classification.

Today, three generations carry on the long tradition: patriarch Anthony, his daughter Lilian Barton-Sartorius, and Lilian’s two children, Damien and Mélanie. The family also owns neighboring St.-Julien third-growth Château Langoa Barton and the recently purchased Mauvesin Barton in nearby Moulis.

Anthony, now 88, piloted the business into Bordeaux’s modern era, combining Old World charm and sophistication with a staunchly traditionalist approach to both making and selling wine. Little has changed at Léoville Barton under his tenure, with large wooden vats still used for vinifications, as opposed to the gleaming stainless-steel vats that dominate the cellars of the Left Bank today.

When discussing his 2003 vintage at the Wine Experience in 2007, Anthony said, “We’re often asked, ‘What are you changing in your vinification to suit modern trends or modern tastes?’ And I say that I think that would be a hopeless task, because the more you try and please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody. So in a rather selfish way, we decided to make wines that please ourselves. And the reason we make wine is for it to be drunk.”

Anthony’s daughter Lilian remembers picking grapes alongside her father as a 7-year-old. Now 63, she has been working with him since 1980.

Mélanie, 34, and Damien, 31, represent the 10th generation in the Bartons’ Bordeaux dynasty. Profiled as part of Bordeaux’s new generation in the March 31, 2018, issue of Wine Spectator, Damien reflected on this deep history. “We feel the weight of the legacy in a positive way,” he said. “I’m proud to be the next generation. It’s the definition of sustainability. My mission now is to pass it down to the next generation, like our mother has done—keep it where it is, maybe push it a bit higher if we can, and pass it down in the best condition possible.”

That sustainability is embodied in the Bartons’ approach to the environment as well. The only forest in the St.-Julien appellation lies within the boundaries of Léoville Barton’s property. The family could clear the land and plant more vines, increasing their bottom line. Instead they have chosen to leave it as forest, feeling that maintaining a healthy ecosytem is the better long-term plan.

Château Léoville Barton comprises 119 acres of vines on the north side of St.-Julien, with south-facing hillsides and slightly higher elevation. The result is a wine that typically brims with powerful blue and black fruit flavors, a strong graphite note and vivid violet and anise flashes through the finish. The 2016 is a blend of 86 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest Merlot. It is one of the top wines in a vintage that is a benchmark in the Left Bank AOCs of St.-Julien, Pauillac and St.-Estèphe.

Léoville Barton has always been one of the best values in blue-chip, ageworthy Bordeaux. Most of the region’s top properties routinely ask triple-digit prices for their wines. Yet the 2016 Léoville Barton was released at an initial futures offering of $87 per bottle.

For its emblematic representation of Bordeaux, emphasis on a great price for a wine of such high quality, incredibly consistent track record and long-running family ownership, the Château Léoville Barton St.-Julien 2016 is Wine Spectator’s 2019 Wine of the Year.” – WINE SPECTATOR, November 15, 2019

“This is so vivid as it brims with pastis-soaked plum, blackberry, black currant and blueberry paste flavors, all carried by a perfectly integrated brambly spine. Tar and ganache notes give the finish an extra kick while everything stays within the mouthwatering roasted apple wood frame. Both regal and rambunctious, this is St.-Julien to a T. Best from 2025 through 2040. 11,667 cases made.”  97 points, Wine Spectator — JM (March 2019)

“Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2016 Leoville Barton delivers a superstar nose of crème de cassis, plum preserves and blueberry compote with suggestions of fragrant earth, unsmoked cigars, licorice and cedar chest. Medium to full-bodied, rich and seductive with firm yet velvety tannins, it has a decadently rich finish. 2021 – 2046” – 95+ points, Wine Advocate – LPB


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