It is easy to over-eulogise in extremely fine vintages such as this one. But as we reach the zenith of the 2016 campaign there is one wine that fully deserves every glowing adjective in the book; a wine that encompasses all of the finest points of 2016, that ticks every box and flirts with perfection – Château Léoville Las Cases.
Tasting it at the château in April, the entire Goedhuis team were stopped in our tracks, and left spellbound by the emergence of a blockbuster ‘Super Second’ from St Julien.
Las Cases is often unyielding, backward and powerful in youth, the most structured of the St Julien châteaux, and tricky to assess. In 2016 however the fruit is wonderfully rich and ripe but perfectly delineated. What is utterly captivating this year are the profound levels of purity and complexity on display, so much so that the high tannins are so seamlessly integrated that they are barely noticeable. This is an intellectual wine, one that is characterised by highbrow precision and intricate detail. There’s a wonderful energy to it complementing the refined silky tannins perfectly. It is seamless, multi layered and complete in such a way that even the most brave and qualified would find it hard to distinguish from a 1st growth.
Las Cases’ 98-100 point score from Neal Martin barely does the wine justice and I would be amazed if its full 100 point status was not confirmed in the full passage of time. If you had to choose a ‘wine of the vintage’, you would be hard pushed not to select this one. This is a legend in the making and a wine that will just leave you lost for words.
Ch Léoville Las Cases 2ème Cru St Julien 2016
£1,050.00 per 6 bottles IB
£1,060.00 per 3 magnums IB
As my children would say “OMG”! This vies as one of the most exciting wines I tasted all week and I simply can’t wait to try it again. Unquestionably first growth in all but name. This is a simply great wine and I am tempted to go as far as to say it is the greatest Las Cases I have ever tasted, and that is saying something… I’m not sure where to start! Dense opaque colour, with hints of eucalyptus, black cherries and black fruits on the nose. These follow through into the palate, with hints of blackcurrant. A hugely bold wine, with great breadth of fruit. It has the power of its famed neighbour Ch Latour, but with a degree of St Julien sensitivity, poise and grace. It finishes with chocolate, mocha and a delicious degree of richness. Almost perfection, and a definite addition to my cellar this year. Drink 2030-2050. 97-99 points, Goedhuis & Co
It is initially tightly coiled on the nose and needed coaxing from the glass. There are scents of small black cherries, boysenberry, crushed violets and a slight flintiness that emerges with time. The definition is very impressive-you can almost pick the aromas out one by one. 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. Drink Date 2030 – 2070. 98-100 points, Neal Martin
Amazing combination of the stoniness and backbone of traditional Las Cases with extraordinary vitality and energy, all overlaid with fully ripe fruit. Such richness! Round tannins but the most youthful wine I have yet encountered. Extremely minerally and thrilling. Jean-Hubert Delon bemoans the fact he will not be alive to see it at its peak, and is convinced it will shut down at some point. It is glorious to taste now. Drink 2026-2050. 19 points, Jancis Robinson
A unique Las Cases that harkens back to some of the great classics such as 1985 or 1986 with its solid backbone of tannins and a walnut, licorice and blackcurrant character. Full and powerful, characterized throughout by a steeliness that shows its strength and energy. Better than the 2015. Ultra-classic. 98-99 points, James Suckling
Léoville Las Cases is usually a brutish, powerful wine, especially when young. The 2016, on the other hand, is a wine of total finesse. There is almost no sensation of tannin, even though the wine has the highest degree of tannin ever measured here. Sometimes wines can go from the merely outstanding into the realm of the sublime. That is very much the case with the 2016 Léoville Las Cases. I could describe the aromas and flavors, but that seems superfluous for a wine that delivers so much pure pleasure. Silky (yes, silky) tannins wrap around a super-expressive finish laced with the essence of blue/purplish fruit, crème de cassis, lavender and blueberry jam. 95-98+ points, Antonio Galloni
Very profound, very focussed and also amazingly exotic, there is a mind-bending amount of class here and it is so dense and so classy that it completely baffles the palate. The weightlessness and also intensity of the flavours are nothing short of amazing. The tannins are complete and not at all drying but they are incredible and they will arm this wine for a fifty-year life. The colour and turbidity is insane, too. Sitting here tasting this wine is a seriously unnerving out of body experience and I will make it my mission to taste (and drink) this wine as many times as I can for the rest of my life! This is a truly amazing Las Cases and it is a ‘classic’, at the same time as defining a new era of classicism in this commune. Phenomenal. 20++ points, Matthew Jukes