The Enduring Bordeaux Love Affair ~ Tasting Chateau Leoville Barton 2005 Saint Julien…

August 12th signalled the beginning of the shooting season and of course the return of freshly shot grouse and pheasants to dining establishments all over the UK. Over the years, I have decided I am not a massive lover of well hung game but more of fresh ‘new season’ offerings. So with a lunchtime meeting at the famous Andrew Edmunds Restaurant in Soho beckoning, grouse it was!

After some delicious starters and a fantastic bottle of Domaine Ponsot Morey St Denis 1er Cru Cuvees des Alouette 2006 from the Monts Luisants 1er Cru vineyard, we decided to go classical again and order a bottle of Leoville Barton 2005 at a very modest price it must be said. When that decanter arrived on the table, steaming grouse plated in front of us, it did pass through my mind that perhaps the Domaine Fourrier Chambolle Musigny 2006 might have been a better follow up choice.

But one sip of the Barton put that thought well and truly to rest. Delicious! Like an old, sexy ex-girlfriend that keeps popping in to your mind, Bordeaux is a love affair that is well and truly hard to break. There are ups and downs, fall outs and make ups, but always an enduring Bordeaux passion that burns deep within fine wine lovers.

The Leoville Barton 2005 is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc and still possesses a deep dark ruby colour. The nose was absolutely seductive and so perfumed, brimming with sweet red cherry pie, saline cassis, black plums and tart cranberries. Such vibrancy, brightness and complexity. The oak notes were beautifully integrated already with the intense fruit opulence, but with extra layers of minerality, herbs and grilled spice complexity. The palate showed exceptional purity and was impressively ripe, long and full, with great depth of fruit and tremendous intensity on the finish. The tannins had the Margaux’esque suaveness and elegance you so often find on great Saint Juliens, but with a little bit of extra meat and muscle on the bone, like a fine Pauillac. A really mouth watering offering that was absolutely singing and paired gloriously with the grouse. This was such an impressive wine from Anthony Barton, that struck a seductive pose and seemed to reach heights of pleasure that the 2000 Leoville Barton just never seemingly manages to achieve. No great rush for this one, but if you have an accessible case in the cellar, crack a bottle with Sunday lunch and give it a test run.

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

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