Léoville Las Cases occupies one of the greatest vineyard locations in the northern Médoc, a stone’s throw from Château Latour. Indeed, whilst its vineyards sit in the commune of St Julien, it often has a closer resemblance to the bold and robust fruit characteristics of Pauillac. It is no surprise that Léoville Las Cases was the original “Super Second”, a second growth property with first growth aspirations and quality ideals. Master of Wine David Roberts comments “If Las Cases lay within the commune of Pauillac it would surely be a classified as a 1st growth. It really is one of the Médoc’s greatest estates.”
Las Cases has always aimed high but the turn of the century witnessed further improvements with an even more rigorous approach in the vineyard and stricter grape selection at harvest time. The introduction of a second wine, Le Petit Lion de Las Cases, in 2007 only served to nudge the quality of the grand vin higher. Now, on occasion, the quality of the wine belies its deuxième cru status. The two vintages below are this château at its very best.
2006 Ch Léoville Las Cases 2ème Cru St Julien
9 cs @ £1450 per 12 bottle case IB
15 cs @ £725 per 6 bottle case IB
The superb but overlooked 2006 is a wine that proprietor Jean-Hubert Delon believes ‘recalls the greatness of the 1986 and 1996’. It is some 20% below the much lauded and similarly scored 2010. Originally released at £1200, the 2006 is now a touch above that price but has ten years in bottle and is at a healthy discount to its comparable kin.
The 2006 Château Léoville Las-Cases has a very complex bouquet with heady scents of blackcurrant, kirsch, crushed violets, rock salt and just a hint of cassis. It is backward and can barely contain its energy. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, very symmetrical and poised, a fine line of acidity interwoven through the black fruit, touches of citrus fruit developing towards the poised and tensile finish. This is a beautiful wine from Jean-Hubert Delon, but it needs several years in bottle. 96 Points, Neal Martin, May 2016, Drink 2020-2035.
2009 Ch Léoville Las Cases 2ème Cru St Julien
11 cs @ £2250 per 12 bottle case IB
Robert Parker described the 2009 as “one of the greatest Léoville Las Cases I have ever tasted, which is saying something given the many captivating wines that have been made at this estate.” Released at £2400 it is now offered below both its release price and similarly rated older vintages (the 2000, 1996 & 1986).
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. 98+ Points, Robert Parker, December 2011, Drink 2022-2045.