SAINT JULIEN : At A Glance
A-team effort. Consistent high quality wines that affirms Saint Julien’s reputation as one of the most reliable communes.
The 2016 Lagrange is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot that is matured in 50% new oak. The yield came in at 46.5 hectoliters per hectare, lower than in 2015. It has a very well defined bouquet with intense black cherry, red plum, touches of cedar and with continued aeration, a hint of blueberry. It certainly is one of the most expressive Lagrange that I have tasted (and I write that having tasted them all back to the early 1980s). The palate is extremely well balanced with tensile tannin, vibrant and animated with blackberry, crème de cassis, a hint of orange zest. This is a great Lagrange, one that almost “zings” around the senses, barely able to contain the energy. A superior Lagrange to the 2015, this may well rank as the finest produced.
This tasting of Château Lagrange held during en primeur week was a pertinent reminder of how much I like this property for the values it holds dear: value, reliability, typicité and availability. You know, the biggest argument I ever had when I was a Bordeaux buyer was not over Lafite or Pétrus. No, it concerned over a cache of Château Lagrange that had become available on the secondary market. A distributor was desperately seeking a couple of hundred cases for the prosaic reason that his clientele love to drink it. He had to have it. I can understand that in Bordeaux these days everybody yearns to be a star, grab headlines and be millionaires’ darlings. However, they are not necessary genuine wine-lovers, the ones whose passion is only limited by the shortness of their purse strings, those disenfranchised by much of what Bordeaux stands for today. This tasting of Château Lagrange reaffirmed how the importance of a venerable Grand Cru Classé offering great Bordeaux to wide and appreciative audience that are not looking to make a 10% margin, but share this wine with their friends.
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A vertical spanning for decades of any great estate is always going to be a fascinating exercice. The changes reflected in a wine over such a long period of time is a lesson not just in history, and the influence of the managers, consultants and owners who take the big décisions, but also in the wider influence of economic changes taht can batter any business over the long term, not to mention global weather patterns and technological advances, both of which play their part in translating what happens in the vineyard into what we can discern in our glass.
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2010 Chateau Lagrange 93 / 100
Tasted at the Union de Grand Cru in London. The Lagrange has a very refined, sophisticated bouquet with blackberry, bay leaf, cedar and sous-bois, all with fine delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with a fine grippy entry. There is a lot of citrus fruit here, lending the 2010 tension and poise.
It remains linear and focused, saving something up for the future.
Tasted December 2012.