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Senior editor James Suckling joined Wine Spectator in 1981 and retired in 2010. As European bureau chief, he was based in Tuscany and tasted the wines of Italy, Bordeaux and Port.
James Suckling

A Red Bordeaux to Rival the First-Growths

Château Léoville Las Cases St.-Julien 1982

James Suckling
Posted: May 13, 2009

A friend of mine in London invited me to a dinner party for 12 people, and the featured wine for a multicourse meal was a double magnum of 1982 Château Léoville Las Cases. He served it as a pair with 1982 Sassicaia.

Both the Bordeaux and the super Tuscan were an amazing match with perfectly roasted lamb chops. The Las Cases was the better of the two, but it wasn't a competition, as both wines were excellent. Nearing three decades in age, the second-growth from St.-Julien had such amazing finesse and length along with its richness and power. It was full of subtle currant, berry and floral notes that later turned to mint and eucalyptus. Some of the dinner guests even found a lead pencil character. I scored it 95 points, non-blind.

Las Cases' key vineyards are located next to the first-growth Château Latour. The Delon family has long dreamed of their estate being elevated to the same level that their neighbor earned in Bordeaux's 1855 Classification. But the current owner and manager of the property, Jean-Hubert Delon, often tells me, "We are a first-growth for real lovers of great Bordeaux." I guess he is alluding to the extremely high prices charged for first-growths—particularly from famed modern vintages such as 1982—and how his château's wines sell for a fraction of the price. So Las Cases is affordable for Bordeaux aficionados.

In any case, the 1982 is the first great vintage of Las Cases in our lifetimes, and since then, the property has consistently been making top wines nearly every vintage. I often like it better than some first-growths in a given vintage.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review, get the current auction price and see notes from retrospective tastings for Château Léoville Las Cases St.-Julien 1982 (98 points)

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for recently rated red Bordeaux, plus our quick list of Top Values among red Bordeaux.

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