Château Léoville Las Cases, Saint-Julien 1978

Leoville Las Cases 1978

Thirty-five years on tasting.

Luminous garnet with a tawny sheen, impressive color amplitude up to the rim.  A grand père on the nose, aristocratic, endlessly suggestive: spicy red and black fruit, cedar, grilled almond, fennel, aztec mocha, rust, pencil lead, tabac blond.  A top-drawer toastiness.  Barb says, “like my grandfather’s pipe .. and the smoking jacket too”.  Sweetly savory and finely calibrated on the palate, of medium-full texture and concentration: a consommé of forest-y black currant, damson, loganberry.  Barb says “green pepper .. the serious and dangerous kind .. poblano”.

None of the opacity of this wine in its youth.  A generosity and now readable as St.-Julien, with the surrender of its once obsidian backbone and now melted tannin structure.  An earthy minerality.  For us, a claret that needs a quarter century to reveal itself.  Antediluvian.  And the first name when asked to describe ‘vin du garde‘.  A great ’78.

As there are no great wines at this age, only great bottles, we have to recommend ‘drink soon’.  But if your ’78 Château Léoville-Las-Cases was bought on release and of perfect provenance and storage these will have interest at age fifty.

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