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HIS WINE: Leoville Barton St. Julien 2001, 2nd growth

2001 Chateau Leoville Bartton

I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Barton at a trade tasting of the 2006 en primeur at Lords in London and I was very impressed with his charming laid back demeanor. I bought the 2001 en primeur back in the day when 1st growths were £1,000 per case of 12 and not for a bottle.

My readiness guideline for decent claret is now 12-15 years and I prefer not to be reminded that I broached my 2001 Mouton-Rothschild for the first time in about 2008 – infanticide of the first order. Don’t get me started on the fact I sold a case of Haut-Brion 2001 when in hindsight I didn’t need the money. I did double my money but I have since promised myself I will never sell wine for profit again.

Just back from a weekend in Bolgheri where we had a great private tour of Ca’Marcanda. Angelo Gaja turned up and was as chatty as you like. On our return to the UK I thought it was time to return to the original inspiration for the Super Tuscan; Claret. We took a bottle of the Leoville Barton to our local pub; the Rose and Crown which does excellent 35 day aged Dedham Vale beef. When you are in the coldest spring in 50 years then no time to mess about.

I do find a good claret is hit and miss but every now and then there is a redefining moment of wow! This was such a moment.

Clear in the glass with medium (+) ruby appearance. Just a few legs were evident. The nose was clean, medium intensity with text book notes of cheese, cigar box, leather, graphite, blackcurrant, mint – truly an exotic array of secondary aromas morphing into more tertiary territory. The wine was still developing with potentially another 15 years ahead. Given about 15 minutes to breath (no decanter available) the palate was breathtaking. Medium alcohol, medium(-) acidity, medium tannins which were fine grained. The medium body supported wonderful flavours of sweet but very subtle oak, the fruit was well integrated but the black elements of the fruit sat well with the cedar, gentle cupboard spice and each sip demanded more coaxing of the moreish aromas. Length was medium(+). This wine was one of the most pleasurable wines I have had this year. One was compelled to simply stare at the inky depths within the glass  in utter wonderment.

Cheers Angelo, this is what it is all about.

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