2023 Bordeaux En Primeur – Léoville Barton & Langoa Barton

UNTIL MY COMPLETE 2023 BORDEAUX EN PRIMEUR REPORT IS PUBLISHED IN FULL, I WILL NOTE DOWN MY FAVOURITE EARLY-RELEASE WINES FOR YOUR PERUSAL

Léoville Barton 2023

Château Léoville Barton (2ème Cru Saint-Julien)

87 Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 Merlot, 3 Cabernet Franc: 60% new oak: 13% alc: Harvested 12 September – 2 October

I must admit to creating a mental picture, a sort of flavour diagram, in my head as I approach every wine detailed in this report.  It layers the vintage conditions with the ‘character’ of the Château.  In this respect, I was supremely confident that Léoville Barton would have nailed this wine because the shape of the vintage is almost identical to that of this wine’s indelible personality.  It is even more uplifting to report that not only is Léoville Barton a success, but it is also a benchmark example of why this label is so reliable and why it is adored by so many.  There is a flourish of spice and oak on the nose that adds drama and detail to the erudite core of cassis fruit, and there is a silkiness here that is cut in two by the super-bright, cooling, crystalline tannins.  This wine and the beautiful 2022 vintage will stand side by side for decades, with 2022 looking a little plusher and showy and this delicious 2023 erring on the more classical, debonair side of the fence.  18.5+/20

Langoa Barton 2023

Château Langoa Barton (3ème Cru Saint-Julien)

60 Cabernet Sauvignon, 37 Merlot, 3 Cabernet Franc: 60% new oak: 13% alc

Langoa has nearly caught up with Léoville Barton in the last couple of vintages. While it doesn’t have as robust a core of Cabernet as its stablemate, which is critical for superstardom on the Left Bank in 2023, it is only a nudge behind. It will drink significantly earlier, so there is no reason to favour one wine over the other.  The answer to your unasked question is to buy both and let Langoa lead where Léoville will follow.  This is a generous wine with ripe, smooth and open fruit (aided by 37% Merlot), and it is the first time I have written the word ‘exotic’ about this oft-quietly formal wine.  These quietly lavish moments suit this vintage because these floral curlicues and discreet fruit indulgences significantly add to Langoa’s appeal, making it a cunning purchase for those seeking wines with a little more immediacy without sacrificing elegance and balance.   18+/20

MATTHEW JUKES SCORE CONVERSION CHART

As a wine taster and writer, I prefer you to read my words rather than focus on my scores.  This is why I rarely score wines unless I write an extensive report like this one.  I believe that scores taken from the context of tasting notes are essentially meaningless.  I describe my featured wines fully so you can imagine the aroma, shape and flavour.  Scores don’t help with this.  You will know that several different scoring methods are used in the global wine trade.  Most of my wine-writing colleagues have been tempted to the dark side, using the 100-point rating system.  A few, usually older types, cling to the venerable five-star rating.

As you know, I favour the 20-point score.  It’s how I was taught and dovetails nicely with how I judge wines.  For those unfamiliar with the 20-point scoring system, here is a table that translates it into various other formats.

20-point score100-point scoremedal5 star
20100perfect gold5
19.598/99gold5
1996/97gold5
18.595gold4
1893/94high silver4
17.591/92silver4
1789/90silver3
16.588high bronze3
1686/87bronze2
15.585bronze2
1583/84no medal1
14.581/82no medal1
1480no medal1