Leoville Poyferre 10-Vintage Vertical

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
25% Merlot
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.

Flight I

2017

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

2014 TO 

Riper and richer. Blueberry fruit with richer tannins. Very fresh. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot

2012  TO 

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

Flight II

2019

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

2016

Blue/black fruit. Density. Silky, fine tannins. Lots of freshness. 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc

2010

Rich blue/black fruit. With equally rich/ripe sustaining tannins. Still remarkably youthful. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc

Flight III

2009

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

2005

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

2003

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

Flight IV

1982

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

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