April 1999, Score: 90-92
The 1998 is impressive. It exhibits an opaque ruby/purple color, and a sweet nose of blackberry and cassis fruit intermixed with licorice, earth, and wood. Extremely high in tannin, but with the concentration and muscle to support its brawny structure, this is a big, dense, old fashioned wine that will require 7-10 years to round into shape. Full-bodied and impressively-endowed, as well as harmonious, Leoville-Barton has turned in an exemplary performance. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2025.
Dense opaque purple-colored with obvious toasty new oak, this masculine, tannic 1998 smells and tastes ripe, yet the tannin is elevated. However, it displays thick, juicy cassis and blackberry fruit with overtones of creosote and pain grille. It is a brawny, muscular effort that should evolve impressively for two or more decades. If the tannin becomes sweeter and better integrated, this will be an outstanding effort. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025.
This opaque purple-colored, muscular, full-bodied, classically made St.-Julien displays impressive concentration, chewy, highly-extracted flavors of black fruits, iron, earth, and spicy wood, and a powerful mouth-feel. A pure, uncompromising, traditionally-styled wine, it is to be admired for its authenticity, class, and quality. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2035. Readers seeking classic, muscular, extremely long-lived Bordeaux should always keep this outstanding classified growth in mind. It continues to sell for a price well below its intrinsic value. Drink 2007-2035
Château Léoville Barton
One of the great names in classically styled claret, Léoville Barton has been owned by the same family throughout its entire existence – an unheard of rarity in Bordeaux. Unusual for the Médoc region, there is no château based on the property. As a result, the wines are vinified and aged at neighbouring Langoa Barton, which as its name suggests, is also owned by the Barton family.
St Julien, Red Bordeaux
St Julien is like the middle child of the Médoc – not as assertive as Pauillac or as coquettish as Margaux. It lies firmly between the two more outspoken communes and as a result produces a blend of them both. St Julien’s wines have often been sought out by aficionados for their balance and consistency, particularly in the UK. Yet due to its middle child nature, it can occasionally be overlooked globally and as a result underrated by those markets outside the UK. Despite the fact that it has no first growths, it has several second growths including Léoville Las Cases, Léoville Barton, Léoville Poyferré and Ducru Beaucaillou as well as the celebrated châteaux such as Talbot and Beychevelle.