The A-Team at Leoville Poyferre. From left, Cellarmaster Didier Thomann, Oenologist Isabelle Davin, Proprietor & Managing Director Sara Lecompte Cuvelier, Vineyard Manager Bruno Clenet, and Assistant Vineyard Manager David Aguirre
The Cuvelier Family – before they became proprietors of wine estates – were negociants. They still are.
H Cuvelier & Fils was created more than 200 years ago in 1804.
A hundred years later – in 1903 – the family acquired Chateau Le Crock in Saint-Estephe. Later, they added Chateau Camensac in Haut-Médoc.
A century ago – 1920 – the Cuvelier Family purchased the property for which they are most associated today, Chateau Leoville Poyferre. They later acquired Chateau Moulin Riche, another Saint-Julien property.
Managing Director Sara Lecompte-Cuvelier is also a proprietor of Leoville-Poyferre. She took over from her uncle Didier Cuvelier who retired in 2017. And has created her own successes.
Virtual tasting on 22 June 2021 with, from left, Proprietor & Managing Director Sara Lecompte Cuvelier, Cellarmaster Didier Thomann, and Brand Ambassador Claire Ridley
The 80 ha vineyard – average age of vines is 38 years – is planted to:
63% Cabernet Sauvignon
7% Petit Verdot
5% Cabernet Franc
Vinification is carried out by grape variety, and plot by plot. In order to achieve that, Leoville Poyferre has 57 thermo-regulated stainless steel tanks.
The pursuit of excellence is on-going.
In 2018, Sara Lecompte-Cuvelier adopted the use – with the must – of a non-saccharomyces yeast, thereby eliminating the traditional use of sulphur dioxide at this stage of the vinification.
VERTICAL • 10 VINTAGES
I had asked to taste the wines in four flights and wanted Flight I, II & III to comprise 3 vintages each. At the very end, 1982 on its own. Going back and forth between 10 vintages is too much work. And confusing. I do not possess a photographic memory for wine. And have always found it more effective to taste them in no more than a grouping of 4. I asked the chateau to select the order of the tasting.
The balance of light berry fruit, soft tannins, and freshness are in wonderful equilibrium. A medium-bodied vintage full of charm. Even though a lighter vintage, ageing potential to 2030/2035. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot
Riper and richer. Blueberry fruit with richer tannins. Very fresh. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot
Just now stepping into its secondary evolution. Tobacco, hint of mint and blackcurrant fruit. With good persistence. 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot
Ripe, richness, density of fruit including mulberries (the leaves of the mulberry tree are the most beloved by silkworms). Suave, silky tannins. Round freshness. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot
Blue/black fruit. Density. Silky, fine tannins. Lots of freshness. 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc
Rich blue/black fruit. With equally rich/ripe sustaining tannins. Still remarkably youthful. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc
Sun and heat on the nose. Black fruit. Not so fresh. A touch austere on the finish. This heat-wave vintage saw Bordeaux allowing winemakers to acidify. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc
The only wine that was a touch reductive. Plums. Fresher than 2009 and 2003, and with good intensity, needs retasting and possible upgrading. 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot
Tobacco, leather, hint of sandalwood, and cherry fruit. Reminds of a Tuscan red. Quite evolved. Austere on the finish. Another heatwave year, Bordeaux winemakers were again allowed to acidity. (I remember, going back to the car after visiting a chateau the summer of 2003, the temperature read 45° Celsius).70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot
Sandalwood, leather, aged tobacco, autumn leaves, and smoky blackcurrant fruit. Completely evolved. Very fresh. Chateau Leoville Poyferre does not have records of the grape composition of this vintage