Leoville Las Cases Bordeaux wines tasting notes, France - 2rd Classified Growth 1855 - Appellation Saint-Julien - 

Vertical Tasting, Chateau Leoville las Cases

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2rd Classified Growth 1855 - Saint-Julien 
32 vintages - 33 bottles..!

In partnership with "La Passion du Vin" - the most active French speaking wine forum - 04.24.2004

degustation leoville las casesExceptional! There is no another word to qualify such an incredible event. To gather 33 bottles of one of the most famous wine estates of the Medoc area, Château Léoville las Cases, was indeed a great challenge. But the dream came true thanks to nine friends and wine enthusiasts, who collected the wines mostly from their private cellars. As a result, there was 32 differerent vintages together at the same table, the oldest of the bunch being a 70 years old 1934! 

1934 1947 1948 1955 1959 1961 1966 1970 1971
1973 1975 1977 1978 1979 1982 1983 1985 1986
1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000

A special thank you to Jean-Hubert Delon, the dynamic Administrator of Château Léoville las Cases, for his invaluable comments and suggestions during the preparation of the event. Unfortunately he couldn't join us because of the frenzy on the 2003 futures tasting at that time of the year.



Not decanted - served immediately after opening

> 1977 Léoville las Cases

(rainy vintage)
Light brick hue. Alcoholic nose - Fading, but still a core of nice stewed fruits underlined by torrefaction. Average body, interesting spiced notes. Slight astringency and shortish finish. After half an hour in the glass, the wine falls apart and reveals an unpleasant smell of sweat. Definately past its prime, but there’s a bit of meat left on the bones if one drinks it quickly after having it served. 78/100Léoville las Cases 1987
More intense hue than the 1977. Fleeting nose of sweet pepper, undergrowth, mushrooms. Medium and linear mid-palate, short alcoholic finish. This wine must have seen better times a decade ago. 70/100

> 1987 Léoville las Cases

sommelierMore intense hue than the 1977. Fleeting nose of sweet pepper, undergrowth, mushrooms. Medium and linear mid-palate, short alcoholic finish. This wine must have seen better times a decade ago. 70/100

> 1991 Léoville las Cases

Light garnet. Inexpressive nose of pepper and vanilla. Curiously the wine is still marked by wood. Thin body but no outstanding defect. Drinkable but rather lean. This bottle illustrates the technical progress of wine making during poor years. Drink now. 82/100

> 1992 Léoville las Cases

Slightly orange rim. Little intensity supported by plum, smoked wood, and some curious pharmaceutical flavours (bandaid?). Medium length aftertaste but collapses right after that, marked by unpleasant acidity, alcohol and a short finish. Clearly declining. 70/100

> 1993 Léoville las Cases

bouteilles de leoville las cases

Garnet-red hue. well evolved nose that packs ripe fruits and liquorice notes. The taste was quite different, more astringent and severe tannins. Rounding finish but average intensity. Relative disappointment. Drink now. 82/100

> 1997 Léoville las Cases

Visually the wine is in a total different category. Youthful crimson hue. Forward nose with notes of scorched barrel, candied fruits and mocha. The body is silky, but not excessively rich, pleasant finish. A seducing "modern" style wine that should easily hold another ten years. But can it really improve? This wine had its detractors and supporters, but from a general point of view the consensus within the participants was that the woody tannins appear to be slightly unbalanced relative to the fruit's richness. 88/100


Not decanted - served one hour after the opening

> 1979 Léoville las Cases

degustateursLight ruby color with slight browning on the rim. Nice, mature nose of tertiary flavours - undergrowth, cocoa. Good intensity, but a shy mid-palate, ethereal structure evolving into velvety notes. Short finish but has an nice freshness and a good balance by the end. A delicate wine, to drink now with pleasure. 86/100

> 1978 Léoville las Cases

Bright ruby hue. Lovely nose getting more and more complex in the glass: ripe fruit, black tea leaves, nutmeg, sandalwood, catechu and candy fruit. Full and sensual mouth, beautiful red fruit jam highlighted by a splendid and concentrated 
structure with noticeable, but by no means aggressive tannins. Unctuous and elegant body. Long finish. A striking bottle which should probably hold at that high level of quality for another decade. 90/100


> 1983 Léoville las Cases

Unclear light garnet color with some brown at the rim. Barnyard and tobacco smell with volatile acidity and phenolic notes. Initial ripe fruits give the feeling for a short moment that the wine will improve on the palate, but it is finally dilute and barely holding it's fruit as an alcoholic imbalance tarnishes the finish. Although not presenting a real defect, it was clearly a disappointment. I think this bottle may have suffered at some point of it's life. Should objectively be re-evaluated.

> 1994 Léoville las Cases

Dark garnet color. Pleasant smoky, spicy (pepper) and prune bouquet. Full bodied and well balanced. Fruity mid-palate and a slight mentholated note. The tannin remains quite heavy at this point. This is not a super concentrated monster but it's 
undoubtly very pleasurable and elegant as of today. One of Medoc's success in this complicated vintage. 88/100

> 1999 Léoville las Cases

Beautiful intense crimson hue. Discrete nose with black fruits (bilberries), liquorice and almost disturbing aromas of vanilla and roasted wood. Well balanced and fresh with a velvety finish. Quite similar in style to the 1997 tasted previously, but with less smoothness. This wine sparked much controversy within participants as all didn't appreciate its "easy" style very much. Currently a bit closed. Will probably show better in a few years. 88/100

etiquette de vin de bordeaux


Not decanted - served immediately after the opening

vin de bordeaux

> 1934 Léoville las Cases

The 70 years old bottle was the most ancient wine opened on that day. Despite its mid-shoulder level, the orange hue remains surprisingly vivid. Of course, the nose is much less intense than for more recent wines, but it continues to express wonderful nuances of soft spices, truffle, cocoa and leather. The mouth is round and full with an almost stewed fruit, only balanced by a light acidity. The texture is silky and finishes simply on a nice cigarbox scent. Relatively short finish which reminds me the sole velvety trade mark of ripe red class wines. As quoted by a participant "..this is a peaceful pensioner who benefits from all the good side of life".

> 1947 Léoville las Cases - Cruse bottled

Light brownish. Twisted, weird flavours of mushroom and cork. Acid and unstructured. Sadly this wine was flawed. 

etiquette de vin ancienne

> 1947 Léoville las Cases - Château bottled

Deep red, brown at the rim but darker than the 47 Cruse's hue. Astonishing concentration on very fine aromas: humus, prune and black truffle. At first the structure is almost austere but softens after a few seconds. Smooth and fleshy body but light metallic notes appear by the end. Falls apart in the glass after about 30-40 minutes. This wine now walking along the downward phase of its evolution, but remains a very remarkable wine for a rapid consumption immediately after opening the bottle. Do not decant by any means! 89/100 

> 1948 Léoville las Cases

Can this be a 1948? Its intense ruby hue really looks like a 15 years old Bordeaux! The nose is a sweet and complex mixture of maple syrup, candied fruits, cigarbox, mocha and black truffle. Dizzyingly multi-dimensional. Wow what a fascinating bouquet! Wide and round body. Most incredibly the tannins are not yet totally integrated and the structure remains insolently fresh and young. Very long finish. Whereas its predecessor (1947) falls apart after a while, the 1948 continues to improve amazingly an hour after it has been poured in the glass, gaining in roundness and balance! A very intense moment. 97/100

2ème grand cru classé


Decanted for 2 hours


> 1985 Léoville las Cases

Intense ruby hue. Shimmering nose opening gradually on ripe fruits, tobacco and spices. Silky and elegant. Integrated tannins and beautiful freshness. Harmonious and delicate finish. A classic Bordeaux, very far in style from the hyper-concentrated / highly extracted wines sometimes produced at Bordeaux during the more recent years. 90/100 

> 1986 Léoville las Cases (magnum)

Dark garnet color. The nose is closed and reveals a worrying greenness. Confirmation on the palate, which is hermetically closed and showing unpleasant tar combined with green and dry tannins. One hesitates to conclude if this wine is currently in a closed phase of its evolution - but more probably this is a flawed bottle (or magnum in this case!). Should be re-evaluated.

> 1988 Léoville las Cases

Deep garnet hue. Spicy (pepper) and smoked bacon nose. Impressive body and concentrated structure. Lively red fruits and beautiful tannins. After a little mid-palate hollowness, the beautiful opening sensation of fruits returned. Long finish with the same spicy notes initially perceived on the bouquet. A very nice bottle that requires another 5 - 10 years of patience to reach its peak. 89/100

> 1989 Léoville las Cases

Intense inky colour. The nose is great from start to finish: cedar box with loads of red fruits, currants, raspberries, and vanilla. Amazing depth and structure, vibrant and bright fruit with layers of blackberries, and cassis. Intense structure and massive tannins which still need a few years to round themselves. Huge volume and remarkably balanced, very long finish. Doesn't reveal all its potential today. A bottle certainly built to defy time. 95/100


Decanted for 3 hours

> 1995 Léoville las Cases

chaisBeautiful dark purple. Floral (violets) and copious amounts of fruit on the nose (blackcurrant). The wood has not totally been integrated yet. Tight and elegant structure. Well balanced, and suprisingly smooth. Crunching tannins. Slightly bitter finish. Many loved its finesse and elegance very much. Delicious now and will continue to improve over the next several years. 94/100

> 1996 Léoville las Cases

Opaque crimson colour. The nose was still closed but a wonderful fleshy fruit aroma could finally tease out. On the palate, this is monumental! Complex and tight structure, silky tannins, huge body. A paradoxical balance illustrated to me by the image of a fat elephant moving with the grace of a petite ballerina. Phenomenal finish with an unbelievable fruit richness. Difficult however to recognize the appellation. This could easily be one of Pauillac's First Growths hidden 
under the Marquis' label. What a wine! 98/100

> 1998 Léoville las Cases

Intense crimson hue. Beautiful smoky oak and cedar nuances, red fruits (blackcurrant), violet flowers and a little peppered note. Opulent and fleshy mouth. Chewy and fat tannins. A beautiful bottle contrasting with the 1996 by its "easy" and somewhat international style. Nevertheless, a very pleasurable wine to appreciate for the next couple of decades. 93/100

leoville las cases bordeaux

FLIGHT # 6 - THE DUEL ! 2000 Léoville las Cases / 2000 Léoville Barton !

Decanted for 3h30 - blind tasted

Largly acclaimed by critics, we wanted to evaluate Saint-Julien's two most prestigious growths together for a duel. Which one could win the honorary title of King of the appellation for this legendary vintage? It was interesting to note how well the participants, after almost four hours, had integrated the style of Léoville las Cases. Indeed everyone immediately identified which was which between the two glasses! 


> 2000 Léoville las Cases

Colour is opaque purple with ruby edges. Gorgeous and complex nose of overripe fruit, blackcurrant liquor, lead pencil, liquorice and spices. Incredible exactness. Strong and silky tannins. Huge density and elegance. Beautiful balance and long finish. The wine making is totally in control giving an almost too precise picture of this giant. Unbelievably classy. 98/100

> 2000 Léoville Barton

Inky, opaque purple color. The nose is surprisingly opulent with explosive aromas of fresh fruit, vanilla, dry tobacco, leather and roasted notes. In the mouth: leather, tobacco, and gobs of liquorice, cassis and blackberry. Barton's tannins are somewhat less elegant, but the fruit, incredibly concentrated, is perhaps even better than Las Cases'. Huge finish. A moderate acidity was apparent on the finish. An exulting, lively and almost baroque wine. So charming that one could easily fall in love with this devine nectar. 98/100

vin carafé

So finally, the votes were extremely balanced and no winner came out of this duel. Half of the jury loved Barton's bohemian, almost "Bourgogne" style while the others admired las Cases' straightness and class. Which wine has the most potential for keeping? Impossible to say at this point but one thing is sure: both will celebrate their 50th birthday in great shape!


Not decanted - served four hours after the opening

> 1961 Léoville las Cases - Nicolas bottled

In the glass the wine seems much older than its real age. Persistent toasty tertiary flavours - mushroom, tobacco, mocha coffee. However the nose lacks of elegance. Rounded tannins but little concentration and width. Funky iodized after taste notes. 83/100.
Unfortunately the group couldn't compare the Nicolas with a château bottled 1961. But in the light of our previous experience with the two 1947s, there's apparently a huge qualitative difference between merchant and the château bottling. One may nowadays only applaud to the disappearance of the old Bordeaux practice of merchant bottling. 

> 1982 Léoville las Cases

Deep, dark, garnet tinted. Flattering almost overripe red fruits balanced by a splendid overall freshness and lovely black chocolate notes. Beautiful concentration pairing with rounded tannins and always this wonderful ripe fruit on the background. Vibrant acidity which gives a sort of Burgundian style to the wine. But surprisingly, the finish is rather short and the wine has problems by the end. A very nice, but frustrating wine which doesn't quite meet our expectations. Some participants mentioned the hypothesis that the bottle had probably been kept in improper conditions. 90/100 but this review should be confirmed by bottles from other provenances.

> 1990 Léoville las Cases

Intense garnet hue. Unfortunately the bottle has a serious problem. Twisted, weird tar and bandaid flavours with a mouth-puckering effect. What a shame!

michel rolland maître de chais

Following this last flight of legendary vintages - a little bit disappointing I should admit - we had a break and moved for a delicious dinner. One of the participants (http://www.ecole-nobilis.ch/) had brought along an extremely rare bottle of a local Johannisberg 1962 from Provins-Valais. A very original expression of the beauty of this type of vine (Sylvaner). Undoubtly this white varietal has found a wonderful soil in this part of Switzerland. 


Seven bottles which we estimated to be at their peak of maturity were waiting for us at the Restaurant. The wines were 
open half an hour before dinner and not decanted. The first three bottles were served at the beginning of the meal while 
the other four were poured approximately 1h30 later. 

> 1973 Léoville las Cases

Light colour with an orange, red rim. Cocoa and smoked notes. After a while in the glass, the wine reminds some kind of sweet cough syrup. Medium bodied and fully mature. Jammy fruit but falling apart at the finish. 82/100 

> 1971 Léoville las Cases

Ruby colour getting brown on the rim. Ripe fruit and nutmeg flavours. Average body with a light greenness on the mid-palate. Diluted finish that barely holds its fruit and an excessive acidity. This wine has passed it's peak and should be consumed. 81/100 


> 1970 Léoville las Cases

chateau leoville las casesLuminous ruby hue. Delicate floral (violet) and fruity nose of prune and ripe cherries. Balanced, elegant and harmonious body, not extremely powerful but it has an astonishingly fresh finish. A very pleasurable bottle for fine wine connoisseurs. 89/100 

> 1975 Léoville las Cases

Dark, ruby with light edges. Fine pepper notes in the bouquet and plenty of tertiary aromas: undergrowth, black truffle and crystallized fruit. Fat and well balanced with an impressive body. Amazingly tasty and still firmly tannic. A very beautiful and classic Bordeaux. No signs of fruit over-extraction that one may find with some recent wines. Will remain enjoyable for at least 10-15 more years or longer. 95/100. It's worth mentioning that the remainder of the bottle tasted the next day had further rounded and improved! 

> 1966 Léoville las Cases

Dark, ruby with light edges. Elegant notes of cedar wood, Havana, incense, spices and cocoa. The texture is harmoniously balanced, smooth and sensual with silky tannins on a beautiful finish emphasized by ripe fruit. A excellent mature Bordeaux to drink with great pleasure over the next 5 years. 90/100 

> 1955 Léoville las Cases

Surprisingly young hue despite its nearly 50 years of age. Fresh flavours of red fruits, black truffles and undergrowth. The mouth is tremendously well structured, harmonious, round and balanced with a splendid ripe fruit. Beautiful long finish and remarkable freshness which gives an amazing youth to the wine. Similarly as with Léoville las Cases 1975, the 1955 had perfectly held the distance on the next day with no oxidation signs at all. In my view, Léoville las Cases 1955, alongside with 1948, was the revelation of this remarkable vertical tasting! 94/100

> 1959 Léoville las Cases

Deep ruby with a tint of lightening at the edges. The nose is charming and complex - black tea, mushrooms (morels), plums, raisins, figs and a slightly mentholated note. The palate, although tannic, is perfectly round and smooth. A luxurious texture that comes from perfectly mature wine. Slightly fading finish. A very elegant Medoc currently at its peak. Drink preferably before the end of this decade. 94/100

appellation saint julien

Eight Epiphany wines were unanimously praised by the guests: 1996, 2000, 1948, 1975, 1989, 1995, 1955 and 1959. Ten other vintages only lacked a little magic to enter in the Hall of Fame of Bordeaux' greatest nectars. Overall more than half of the present 33 bottles had a remarkably high level of quality.

However there was a limited number of disappointments - which is normal with this kind of spectacular tasting. 1982 - Parker's mythical 100 points wine; a very beautiful wine, but which hasn't generated any particular enthusiasm within the guests. Personally, I tend to give it the benefit of the doubt. I cannot exclude the possibility of a poorly kept bottle.  1990 alas slightly corked.  1986 in magnum which had a completely unharmonious structure.  Finally, the legendary 1961. Admittedly a merchant bottled Léoville but nevertheless much too thinthin in regard of the vintage's reputation. 

Besides that, one can mention its very mixed feelings for a handful of wines: 1971,1983, 1987, 1991 and 1992. But the positive surprise probably came from certain "off" years. 1977, 1973 and 1993's structure are clean and certainly provide a real pleasure. Admittedly, after 30 minutes, all of them had a tendency to fall apart, but drunk immediately after opening, they are still quite enjoyable to drink. 

Of course such an event is not to be compared with a hedonist's meeting. In such tastings, the approach is probably more analytical and less emotional. But so much enriching! But the lessons! And the passionate discussions on the following day vis-a-vis of the magnificent Swiss Alps, while finishing a few bottles left was certainly a fantastic experience to live. Probably there were a few wines in excess and the guest's saturated taste buds were crying for a break. But what an unforgettable day this was! 

jean hubert delon

To finish I'd like to quote one of the participant's words: "If I was to summarize this
vertical tasting in a few words, I would say that Léoville las Cases is indeed a very high-class wine, which however may sometimes be irregular in some more difficult years. Is is equal or not to the Left Bank's First Growths? I'm not absolutely sure. But for whom has the chance to drink some of the estate's best vintages, there is absolutely no doubt! Monsieur le Marquis for sure is a true legend of Bordeaux!"

Alain Bringolf - for ccvo-bg.org

Thanks to Yves for his excellent pictures..

> Further articles on ccvo-bg

Bordeaux wine tasting by topic

Bordeaux wine tasting by Chateau





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1996 - Divine !
2000 - Divine !

1948 - Awesome

1955 - Remarkable
1975 - Remarkable
1989 - Remarkable

1959 - Full-flavoured
1995 - Full-flavoured

1998 - Excellent

1966 - Delicious
1978 - Delicious
1982 - Delicious
1985 - Delicious

1947 - Very good
1970 - Very good
1988 - Very good

1994 - Nice
1997 - Nice
1999 - Nice

1979 - Good

1934 - Venerable


1961 (Nicolas bottled) - Disappointing

1973 - Still alive

1971 - Skinny
1991 - Skinny
1993 - Skinny

1977 - Tired

1987 - Over
1992 - Declining

1947 (Cruse bottled)

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