"splendid showing, much stronger from bottle than it was from barrel, the Leoville Barton is one of the spectacular wines of the vintage. Inky purple to the rim, its huge tannin gives this wine real potential for 30-50 years of longevity. It is a classic, powerful Bordeaux made with no compromise. A superstar of the vintage, the wine has notes of pen ink and creme de cassis, good acidity, sweet, subtle oak, and massive extraction and concentration. I thought it was one of the most backward wines of the vintage two years ago, and nothing has changed in the ensuing upbringing of the wine in cask except that the wine now seems even richer, denser and fuller than I previously thought. The beautiful purity, symmetry, and huge finish of nearly a minute make this one of the all-time great classics from Leoville Barton. Anticipated maturity: 2028-2065+.
The solidly made 2003 Leoville Las-Cases (13.2% alcohol) is a blend of 70.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17.2% Merlot, and 12.6% Cabernet Franc. In this incredibly hot vintage, the alcohol is slightly lower than achieved in 2002, a cool-climate year. While not a profound example of Las-Cases, the 2003 is muscular, deep, and full-bodied with an impressive ruby/purple color, a tight but juicy bouquet of vanilla, black cherries, crushed rocks, and flowers, a sweet attack, and moderately high tannin. Backward and fresh, displaying impeccable delineation and purity, it can be enjoyed between 2012-2023. 93+
"Performing well from bottle, Chateau Margaux's 2001, which is somewhat reminiscent of both the 1985 and 1999, is an elegant, seamlessly constructed effort with a deep ruby/purple color, and a beautiful nose of flowers, creme de cassis, blackberries, and cedar. A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 4% Cabernet Franc, this forward, opulent beauty can be drunk now or cellared for 15-20 years. This is one of the most elegant wines of the vintage."
Another celestial effort from Paul Pontallier and Corinne Mentzelopoulus, the 2005 Margaux, a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, boasts a dense opaque blue/purple color as well as an extraordinary bouquet of spring flowers, blueberries, black raspberries, creme de cassis, licorice, and, despite its having spent two years in 100% new wood, only a subtle touch of toasty oak. Although full-bodied, the wine seems light on its feet because of the silky tannins as well as the great gravel terroir from which it comes. Beautiful purity, length, and nobility define this modern day classic. Is it better than the 2000, 1996, 1990, or some of the vintages from the decade of the eighties? Who knows, but it is unquestionably one of the all-time great wines made at Chateau Margaux. This estate has produced only exceptional wines over the last three decades. The seamlessness of the 2005 suggests it will perform well early, but it should last for a half century or more. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2050+. 98+
Montelena's 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate wraps around the palate with serious depth. Even with all of its intensity, the 2009 has a silkiness that makes it incredibly delicious at this early stage. Red berries, flowers, tobacco and sweet herbs all flesh out on the generous, radiant finish. While many 2009s are a bit tight today, Montelena's 2009 Estate is showing very nicely, although it is keeping some cards close to the vest. I imagine the 2009 will start to enter its prime drinking window around age 8-10 and drink well for at least another decade beyond that. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2029.