Last Tuesday, February 11th 2014, saw me at one of the most memorable wine-related events I've ever had the luck to attend.
Indeed, I was one of the 14 lucky guys that participated in the historic vertical tasting of all kosher cuvées of Château Léoville Poyferré, 2ème Cru Classé Saint Julien in the 1855 classification, meaning the 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005. I didn't forget the 2004, Royal Wine Corp. skipped that vintage and didn't make a kosher version.
As a quick reminder, my friend Pierre Miodownick who is the winemaker behind these wines, has been the winemaker responsible for most of the European portfolio of Royal Wine Corporation for close to 30 years now, comprising among many other wines of Château Pontet Canet - Pauillac, Giscours - Margaux, the Sauternes Château Piada or Meursault Clos du Domaine de chez Pierre Labet - Bourgogne. Pierre co-chaired the event with the exclusive presence of Olivier Cuvelier, one of the owners of Château Léoville Poyferré (as well as of Le Crock and Moulin Riche) in Saint-Julien, Gironde and Hélène Combabessouse, sales director of the Compagnie Vinicole Baron Edmond de Rothschild who both flew in from Bordeaux especially for the occasion.
The tasting was hosted in a gorgeous house in Savyon (an upscale suburb of Tel Aviv near Petach Tikva and Ben Gurion airport) by a friend of Pierre's which made the event even more enjoyable.
Following are my tasting notes:
Château Léoville Poyferré, Saint-Julien 1999: Bright garnet/bloody red in color with on the slightly dusty nose red fruit such as cherries and red currants along notes of mushrooms and wet forest floor. Medium-bodied, with lots of tart red fruit on the palate as well as black truffles and graphite with excellent acidity and integrated tannins with chocolate-covered cherries and hints of spicy oak lingering long on the finish. Elegance and finesse. This is a wine that has matured beautifully, showing proudly its secondary and tertiary aromas and should hold its own well for about a couple more years.
Château Léoville Poyferré, Saint-Julien 2000: Deep garnet towards purple, a touch of Brett and barnyard funk, with dusty black fruit such as cassis and blackberries. Very full-bodied and fleshy with on the palate blackberries and black cherries, black truffles and pencil lead with a touch of sweet oak and dark chocolate, very nice acidity and integrating tannins on the long and luscious finish. Broader shoulders than the '99 with enough power to develop further layers of complexity for 4-5 years.
Château Léoville Poyferré, Saint-Julien 2001: Dark garnet with a bit of browning at the rim with on the nose heavy notes of oxidation such as butterscotch and caramel hiding some black fruit and prunes. Full bodied, this wine has a very big body, tannins are quite big and have yet to integrate and the acidity is definitely there and shows great structure but other than caramel, spices and mocha not much to taste here fruit-wise, fairly long finish. Obviously a flawed bottle, that happens.
Château Léoville Poyferré, Saint-Julien 2002: Super dark, inky purple with on the nose warm scents of cassis, blackberries, cigar tobacco, mocha and a very pleasant hint of barnyard funk. Full-bodied, very lively and deeply extracted with on the palate and coming layers after layers notes of creamy ripe and smooth cassis, sweet blackberries, loamy dirt, licorice, toasted cedar, espresso, a hint of spice, with superb, balanced acidity and tannins that gently rise and coat the mouth with melting dark chocolate covered cherries on a very long, smooth and elegant finish. While being without a doubt within its drinking window, such structure and balance should allow this wine to develop more and live for a good 2-3 more years.
Château Léoville Poyferré, Saint-Julien 2003: Dark royal purple, the nose is a bit tight and closed, disclosing mostly black fruit, oak and dark chocolate. Full-bodied and gently opening up showing on the palate concentrated and ripe blackberries, sweet plums and cassis, with notes of anise and vanilla as well as roasted herbs with balanced acidity and almost chewy tannins lingering with blackberries and baker's chocolate on the long finish. Very fruit-forward compared with the other vintages, a bit reminiscent of Yarden Katzrin.
Château Léoville Poyferré, Saint-Julien 2005: Dark purple with garnet at the rim, the nose is also a bit tight and still closed here with lots of black fruit and toasted oak. Very full-bodied, earthy and extracted with a powerful backbone of bracing acidity and powdery tannins with on the palate blackberries, cassis and licorice, graphite, spicy wood and roasted coffee beans with a seemingly endless finish. Still a baby, a blockbuster of a wine and certainly one of the best wines I've had in my life, has easily 10-15 years left in its legs.