Visit at Leoville Poyferre in St-Julien
My next visit for FRI, June 24th, was for 11:30 at Chateau Leoville Poyferre in Saint Julien. The Cuvelier family acquired this property in 1920, and together with Chateau Le Crock from Saint Estephe, both properties have been run by Didier Cuvelier since 1979. A new winery was built in the mid-1990s. A good deal of replanting was done, therefore the average age of the vines is around 20-30 years old. Mr Cuvelier has been trying to diminish the proportion of Merlot and replace it with Cabernet, looking to produce a structured, long lived wine. Michel Rolland consults on wine-making and blending since 1994.
The vineyards consist of a few large blocks of fine gravelly soil. The property lies on 80 ha and grows 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc producing around 380.000 bottles per vintage. There are three wines produced: Leoville Poyferre – the grand vin, aged for about 18-20 months in new French oak, Chateau Moulin Riche – from a separate property of 20 ha located 2 km on the way to Chateau Batailley with fairly young vines(the best lots enter the grand vin also, while unsatisfactory lots of LP go into Moulin Riche), and Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre – the second wine. Both Moulin Riche and Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre are aged around 12 months in old and new French oak.
LP domain is the least impressive of all the other domains I visited in Bordeaux, as there is no imposing Chateau or large scale building – Leoville Poyferre also shares the courtyard with Leoville Las Cases. However,the investments recently made in state of the art new equipment: new stainless steel tanks and an electronically sorting machine make Leoville Poyferre a leading property in St-Julien. The new stainless steel vats were used for the first time for the 2010 harvest and the new automatic sorting machine will be used starting with the 2011 harvest.
My guide was Mr Vianney de Tastesthe – the Quality Control Manager that used to work for a winery in Australia before joining LP, almost 2 years ago.
I have to say that his presentation was one of the best and detailed I had in Bordeaux.
In the control panel room, state of the art technology makes life easier. It is the first property I saw using a touch screen monitor to control all the stainless steel vats and all the operations employed in the wine-making process: fermentation, flow of the must and temperature.
In the tasting room, one wall was completely covered with texts written by different people that visited the property and tasted the wines during the en-primeurs campaign this year. Including Robert Parker that left his mark on the wall.
I tasted all the wines from the 2010 vintage, plus some other older vintages: Pavillon de Leoville Poyferre 2007, 2008, 2010, Chateau Le Crock 2010, 2009, 2005, Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2010, 2007, 2008, Chateau Moulin Riche 2010, 2009, 2006. The most interesting wines were the Leoville Poyferre 2010 and 2007 and Le Crock 2005.
The 2010 Leoville Poyferre is a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc planned to be aged for about 18 months in small oak barrels. It already shows a tremendous balance and depth on the palate, with great complexity on the nose, and a long finish with good freshness. (96-98/100)
Even though 2007 was a difficult vintage in Bordeaux, the Leoville Poyferre 2007 is a seductive wine, with great Cabernet like flavors, well balanced and developed, mixing well the fruit with minerality and spiciness,while remaining fresh and long in the mouth. (92-94/100)
I liked a lot the 2005 Le Crock as it already started to develop complex aromas of truffles, mixed with good fruit, spice and tar, while remaining balanced, fresh and with good intensity. (89-90/100)
The 2010 Chateau Leoville Poyferre was released at 100 Eur/bottle ex-negociant and according to Liv-ex, the wine was a real success being heavily traded by merchants. My host also mentioned that, the day the price for 2010 was released, they sold their entire allocation of roughly 180.000 bottles within 3-4 hours totaling Eur 18 Millions. Talking about big business.
Both the 2009 and the 2010 Leoville Poyferre received very high scores: an almost perfect 98-100 points from the most important International wine critics, including Robert Parker. It is unquestionable the great development this property made over the last decade, constantly releasing top notch wines. I was impressed by the quality of the 2003 vintage I had about 1 year ago and it does look to me that this domain is poised for greater success. A property mandatory to follow and an almost sure bet for a potential investment into a liquid asset.
Watch a video about Chateau Leoville Poyferre: