The 2021 Léoville Las Cases was picked from 28 September until 8 October and includes just 5% Merlot from the northern sectors of the vineyard due to coulure. They found that increased percentages of Merlot did not contribute to the blend. Matured in 85% new oak, it has an intense nose with black fruit, graphite and light iris flower aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with sappy black fruit, quite a potent marine influence at play, almost briny (perhaps accentuated by the changeable weather on the day of my visit). Very impressive in terms of depth and backbone/grip with iodine and oyster shells towards the finish, this is a cerebral Las-Cases that will demand patience. Then again, name me a vintage of Las-Cases that doesn't! Alcohol here is at 13.20%.
Neal Martin, vinous.com, (May 2022)
Plenty of fruit on display here, with waves of cassis, blackberry and bilberry along with the more typical of the vintage redcurrant and blueberry, savoury and full of juice, along with cloves, black pepper, slate and graphite. There is a power here, and estate signature, but the austerity that you often find in young Las Cases is really dominant in the architecture and character of the wine right now, and you will need patience over ageing for it to soften. 85% new oak. A strong candidate for upscoring in bottle.
Drink 2028 - 2040
Jane Anson, janeanson.com (May 2022)
One of the wines of the vintage, the 2021 Léoville Las Cases is reminiscent of a hypothetical blend of the 1999 and 1996—only better. Offering up incipiently complex aromas of cassis, plums and dark berries mingled with loamy soil, cigar wrapper and exotic spices, it's full-bodied, layered and multidimensional, with superb amplitude and concentration, velvety tannins, lively acids and a long, penetrating finish. Uniting classicism and charm, it exemplifies how a great terroir, exigent agronomy and meticulous winemaking can deliver greatness even in a less propitious vintage. It's a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and a mere 5% Merlot this year, checking in at 13.2% alcohol.
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (Apr 2022)
Less restrained than usual at this stage, the nose fresh and fragrant with floral and berry-fruit notes. More elegance than power, the tannins present but finely honed and the fruit expressive. Structured, so potential but not a muscular year.
James Lawther, jancisrobinson.com (May 2022)
About this WINE
Chateau Leoville Las Cases
Château Léoville Las Cases is one of the largest and oldest classified growths in the Médoc. It is the largest of the 3 Léoville properties and now without doubt the leading estate in St-Julien.
Léoville Las Cases's 97 hectares of vineyards are superbly sited on gravelly-clay soils with the largest plot being surrounded by a stone wall and stretching between the village of St-Julien and Château Latour. The wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blend (65%), and is matured in oak barriques (70-80% new) for 18 months.
Léoville Las Cases produces arguably the most exotically perfumed wine in the Médoc and this can be partially attributed to the must being fermented at lower than average temperatures, which leads to its youthful aromatic richness being retained. On the palate it is powerful and concentrated and marvellously well-balanced.
Léoville Las Cases is a 2ème Cru Classé in name but produces 1er Cru Classé quality wines.
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 Blend
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.