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Château Léoville Poyferré

Talent is measured to numbers of years

Paolo Basso

The small appellation of Saint-Julien, just over 900 hectares, is the Rolls Royce of the AOPs of Medoc if we consider the number of Classed Crus per square meter. Among them, Léoville Poyferré, whose origin dates back to 1638, is an exemplary property, a time even the largest of Medoc. Which destined it fairly logically to gain its letters of nobility–Second Grand Cru Classé–by the classification of 1855.

More than a century later, Didier Cuvelier will further anchor this Saint-Julien in excellence, bringing very special care to the management of the vine very early. As from the early 2000s, the vineyard manager advocated–under some doubtful looks–prophylaxis via a thinning out of the leaves on both sides to fight against diseases. Sara Lecompte, the dynamic manager, says that this cultural approach eventually led them quite naturally towards a virtuous environmental-friedly policy. Since 2016, 16 hectares are indeed worked in biodynamics, with the desire to rise to 20 hectares in 2020. Precise management, an exceptional terroir that rewards you a hundredfold. The vineyards of Léoville Poyferré stretch out on a beautiful soil of gravels. These rolled pebbles from the immemorial bed of the quaternary Garonne river naturally regulate the temperature of the soil. Gravelly hills, a subsoil of sand and clay favor a perfect drainage. Since 2014, the chateau has developed a strong wine touristic dynamic that culminated with the creation of a shop, a delicate haven for equally silky wines.

Château Léoville Poyferré, which relies on the Médoc king varieties, including Petit Verdot, claims an extremely elaborate by-plot approach for the crafting of its Second Grand Cru Classé but also for the second wine: Le Pavillon de Léoville Poyferré. Both are blended in February, as late as possible.

We are proposed a degustation in the small room next to the lab with a white wall bearing the signatures of eminent tasters. Manager Sara Lecompte and oenologist Isabelle Davin have prepared a very nice selection of two wines in vintages that Best Sommelier of the World Paolo Basso re-discovered with pleasure.

The 2005 displays an exceptional vividness, an amazing freshness. Le Pavillon de Léoville Poyferré 2012, a vintage often overshadowed by overexposed seniors, like 2010 for example, is smooth, crisp, with the right salinity. In the same spirit we discover a Léoville Poyferré 2011 mentholated and elegant. The saying is true here; the great chateaus also express in the smallest vintages.

Henry Clemens