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James Dietz

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WTN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by James Dietz » Sun Jul 16, 2006 5:26 pm

  • 1997 Château Léoville Barton - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien (7/16/2006)
    An outstanding bottle of wine. The nose was amazing... spicey, earthy and black fruit. The color was rich and full.. .no sign of bricking at all. In the mouth, dark fruit and, to me, a nice taste from at least partial whole cluster pressing. This was elegant and refreshing at the same time. The finish was long and so so satisfying. There are still substantial tannins evident, but everything was so seamless and in balance that I only noticed them when I really thoujght about them. With a big porterhouse and creminis in a red wine reduction sauce, this was about as close to perfection as one can imagine....We sat amd sat and lingered over this bottle until there was nothing left. A terrific wine with a superb meal. (93 pts.)

Bought from K&L for $39.99.

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Last edited by James Dietz on Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: TN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by Redwinger » Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:38 am

I had a similar experience this week with the 1997 Smith-Haut-Lafitte (note posted), so just perhaps the 1997 vintage shouldn't be completely written off.
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Re: TN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by Covert » Mon Jul 17, 2006 9:43 am

Even some of the professional "critics" are quietly rethinking their opinions. I noticed that Wine Spector now rates the '97 Talbot at 87 points instead of their original 81, when the wine was better than it is now, in my opinion. The general impression of the vintage is also rising in critics' eyes. My wife and I very much enjoyed the Pape Clement a couple of evenings ago.
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Re: TN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by Jenise » Mon Jul 17, 2006 12:49 pm

Covert and Jim,

I've had this several times, and I would be willing to defend the critics to some degree. The 97 LB is a good wine, and it's definitely improving and has room for more. BUT, it is so unlike a typical Leoville Barton that it's hard to score it well as Leoville Barton. In a vertical tasting, it would likely trail the pack and criticisms would include that it "lacks stuffing". Don't get me wrong, I like the 97, but compared to 99, say? Lacks stuffing. :)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: TN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by James Dietz » Mon Jul 17, 2006 1:01 pm

Hmmm.. I'm treading on dangerous waters here...I've had the '99 numerous times... and I would have to say that the '97, at least the bottle I had, was the equal. Lorena was able to pick it out blind not only as Bordeaux, but as an LB from the nose and palate. I think maybe the '97s, as some have already noted, were vilified too soon.
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Re: TN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by Covert » Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:04 pm

Jim and Jenise,

I think '97 Bordeaux is very unique with a strong personality, which appeals to some people much more than others, just as people with strong personalities do. It isn't as technically great (if it had stuffing, it wouldn't be '97 Bordeaux) as many other vintages, but I for one like it second to no other vintage and will be very unhappy when it is gone. I don't think it is great, I just love it. The girls I have loved were not great; I'm not good enough to rate great girls. Elvis Presley could be compared in an extreme way. Some people compare him favorably with Christ; others think he is dreadful. It's really a matter of personality and what your particular psyche relates to.

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Re: TN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by James Dietz » Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:06 pm

So, Covert... the '97 vintage is like Elvis?? Just making sure I understand!!! :lol:
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Re: WTN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by Covert » Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:17 pm

James,

I didn't want to dilute my last response by getting into points, so I will state a related aspect seperately. I think you might be handing over points to the opposition when you assign points to '97 Bordeaux. As I'm sure you know, the experts look at specific criteria when they score points, such as stuffing and the ability to age. '97 Bordeaux sometimes gets outstanding point ratings simply because it tastes so good, but with its technical drawbacks, only the very best First Growths could ever achieve 93 points (and only for brief intervals, at that), from the experts' criteria of measure. If pure pleasure to some people were the only measure, then several of the '97s would score a perfect 100 points.

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Re: WTN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by James Dietz » Mon Jul 17, 2006 2:29 pm

Covert... My points are purely personal pleasure points, and I have a very compact ordinal scale.. all a 93 means to me is that I rate it highly compared to other wines I have drunk. It is as subjective as it can be. I don't have the skills to rate a wine objectively on ageability, correctness or whatever the points experts purport to do. For me a 93 means that I thought this was a damned good wine, and is way up there among the wines I've tasted. More than that I would never claim for my personal point system. My wife has a 0-5 point scale that also is purely ordinal and represents her personal rankings. These work for us as we think about what wines to retry in the future.
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Re: WTN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by Dale Williams » Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:49 pm

I thought the '97 Barton was one of the stronger efforts for the vintage.

As to '97 as a whole, I think that terms like "vilified" and "written off" are probably harsher than most people's views. I don't remember anyone calling it a truly bad vintage. I think of '91 & '92 are rather bad vintages (though Ill happily drink '92 Haut-Brion or LLC, to name a couple). I think of '97 as maybe a step ahead of '93, and a half-step behind '94. I think that '97s - if restaurant bought on closeout and passed along savings, and if bottles were well stored- would be good restaurant wines right now.

My problems with 1997 Bordeaux, is that for a middling vintage, it has problems with:
1) Price. Most of these came out at prices about the same as the much superior (for my tastes) 1996s and 1995s. I like "luncheon claret", but felt no need to pay high prices for it.
2) Storage: Because of high prices, a ton sat in pipeline too long. By the time wholesalers starting offering deals to try and move these (as 2000's rep grew) a whole lot of 1997s were fried. I'd say that 75% of the wines I've sampled from "deals" friends have gotten on 1997 Bordeaux in the last 3 years have shown prematurely old.
3) Ageability- I can believe the Barton is getting better, and maybe a few others can use a couple more years (10+ in the case of Lafleur, I hope- tannic beasts now). But most are at or past peak, so better as a restaurant wine than taking up cellar space.
4) Style: while I prefer more structured vintages, I can appreciate fruit-driven low-acid wines as earlier drinkers. But for the most part 1997 seemed to be low-acid yet without really deep fruit. There are exceptions, and I'm glad the Barton is one.

All I think I have left is a Poyferre, a Forts de Latour, a Pavie_Macquin, and a few Lafleur. I'll happily try any 1997, but temper my expectations.
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Re: WTN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by Covert » Tue Jul 18, 2006 9:39 am

Dale,

On the heels of this thread, we happened to carry a '97 Cantenac Brown to a venison dinner in an Adirondack Inn last night. It showed surprisingly classic. Perfume and earth on the nose, beautiful cab on the taste with gentle spice on a respectable finish. No signs of age.

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Re: TN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by Jenise » Tue Jul 18, 2006 2:28 pm

Covert said:
It isn't as technically great (if it had stuffing, it wouldn't be '97 Bordeaux) as many other vintages, but I for one like it second to no other vintage


Hey Cov, lighten up. :) You know I liked the 97's. But I was comparing a specific wine of a producer I love (and you don't) to other vintages of the same wine, which is categorically speaking just about Leoville Barton and not about the 97 vintage. You know what I mean? I had this wine last in March--however, I had it from a magnum. It's obvious from Jim's note that the 750's have bloomed and are showing much better. And I like the wine a lot and look forward to other 750's and my remaining magnum providing the kind of ethereal experience Jim got from his. Doesn't make it any less atypical, though.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: TN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by Covert » Wed Jul 19, 2006 1:35 pm

Hi Jenise, I didn't mean to sound so serious. Yes, I know what you mean.
I lose a little of my ability for spot-on nuance in communication after a few days in the woods with copious wine every night. Coming down (to Albany) today. It'll be a shock.
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Re: TN: 1997 Château Léoville Barton

by Jenise » Wed Jul 19, 2006 2:30 pm

Covert wrote:Hi Jenise, I didn't mean to sound so serious. Yes, I know what you mean.
I lose a little of my ability for spot-on nuance in communication after a few days in the woods with copious wine every night. Coming down (to Albany) today. It'll be a shock.


Hey, I know, just had to bring you back to earth. You're still in mourning for the vintage, and that's okay. Me, I just wish I was as certain about the good days ahead for the others I have remaining (I believe just Cos, Montrose, LMHB and GPL) as I am about the Leoville Barton. Oh, and re the Cos? I opened one and found it totally closed. Didn't seem gone, just closed, so I set aside the remaining 3/4 of a bottle with plans to check it two days later. In the meantime I had a party and some guest--no matter that it was geographically at the other end of the house from the wine table--decided it must be available for consumption. Don't know who dit it but I guarantee that whoever it was had no idea what he was drinking. Dang it.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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