Crimson. Sweet and aromatic on the nose. Very flattering. Fine tannins and lots of flesh without being specious. A bit forward but attractive in the short term.
Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com (April 2009)
The rather overt oak often found in this cuvee seems to have been considerably tamed in the 2008. It is more charming, displaying a plush texture along with sweet cassis and black cherry fruit intertwined with intriguing notes of Christmas fruitcake, spice box, and herbs. There is plenty of sweet tannin in this medium-bodied effort, but unlike the tannins in the right bank wines, the tannins in most of the northern Medocs are more prominent, largely because these wines possess high percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon. 5-8 years of patience will be required, and the 2008 Lagrange should last for 25 years.
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (April 2009)
About this WINE
Château Lagrange was for many years perceived as a tired, underperforming St Julien château that was unworthy of its 3ème Cru Classé status.
In 1983 it was purchased by the Japanese Suntory Group which set about renovating the vineyards and the winery. Lagrange rose to become a model estate and even today few Bordeaux properties can match Lagrange, with its huge barrique chais and its state of the art cuvier with its 56 temperature-controlled, stainless steel cuvées.
St Julien is the smallest of the "Big Four" Médoc communes. Although, without any First Growths, St Julien is recognised to be the most consistent of the main communes, with several châteaux turning out impressive wines year after year.
St Julien itself is much more of a village than Pauillac and almost all of the notable properties lie to its south. Its most northerly château is Ch. Léoville Las Cases (whose vineyards actually adjoin those of Latour in Pauillac) but, further south, suitable vineyard land gives way to arable farming and livestock until the Margaux appellation is reached.
The soil is gravelly and finer than that of Pauillac, and without the iron content which gives Pauillac its stature. The homogeneous soils in the vineyards (which extend over a relatively small area of just over 700 hectares) give the commune a unified character.
The wines can be assessed as much by texture as flavour, and there is a sleek, wholesome character to the best. Elegance, harmony and perfect balance and weight, with hints of cassis and cedar, are what epitomise classic St Julien wines. At their very best they combine Margaux’s elegance and refinement with Pauillac’s power and substance.
Ch. Léoville Las Cases produces arguably the most sought-after St Julien, and in any reassessment of the 1855 Classification it would almost certainly warrant being elevated to First Growth status.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.