saint julien vs pauillac

It was a great pleasure to be invited to Trinity College, Cambridge to tutored tasting of wine pairings comparing Pauillac and Saint Julien. Prof. Stephen Elliot guided the tour of these top vintages of 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2000, and 1996, with a mystery wine thrown in at the end, to guess which commune it came from.

saint julien pauillac map bordeaux ss

Pauillac and Saint Julien Tasting notes:

1. Chateau Langoa-Barton 2010, Saint Julien [Winner]

Bright ruby colour, primary fruit characteristics; cassis, still very youthful. Elegant, lovely balance of fruit and silky tannin, notable freshness. 

2. Chateau Batailley 2010, Pauillac

Red brick colour, more secondary aromas of cedar, tobacco. The fruit character is there but not as ripe and fresh as the first wine. The tannin has much more grip and less balance than the Langoa-Barton.

3. Chateau Moulin Riche 2009, Saint Julien

Less gravelly soil, so more Merlot. 20 hectares, gravel and limestone. A very hot vintage so bigger heavier vintage. Bolder fruit from the merlot with a slightly bitter tannic finish.

4. Chateau Haut-Batailley 2009, Pauilliac [Winner]

Straight away there are more secondary aromas like the 2010 Batailley. A bit of punch from the alcohol at the end. I prefer this to the Moulin Riche. 

5. Chateau Léoville-Barton 2008, Saint Julien [Winner]

Bright ruby colour. Aroma of ripe blackcurrant. Ripe fresh fruit with pleasant soft tannin. Still a distinct freshness.

6. Chateau Duhart-Milot-Rothschild 2008, Pauillac

Slight brick-reddening of the colour. Secondary aromas of tobacco and leather. Much more open than the Léoville-Barton but not quite as fresh and elegant. 

7. Chateau Branaire-Ducru 2005, Saint Julien

Fabulous vintage. Blackcurrant and cherry with a touch of liquorice aroma. Gorgeous freshness and acidity, lovely balance with the silky tannin. 

8. Pontet-Canet 2005, Pauillac (Biodynamic) [Winner]

Beautiful aromas of plush blackcurrant and violets. Incredible concentration of fruit, beautiful acidity and silky tannin. The best of the evening.

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The Manhattan Chandelier 
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9. Chateau Léoville-Poyferré 2000, Saint Julien [Winner]

Ageing very well with aroma of blackcurrant with a touch of secondary characteristics coming through. Plush soft fruit and velvety texture. Lovely balance of tannin. Really very enjoyable and ready to drink.

10. Chateau Lynch-Bages 2000, Pauillac

A little bit more mature than the Léoville-Poyferré, lacking the same fruit balance but still has a solid tannic structure.  Not quite as impressive as no. 9 but drinking well now all the same!

11. Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 1996 Saint Julien [Winner]

A strict Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Great youth, bright but mature cassis fruit aroma. Tasting beautifully with tannins that elegant with a gentle grip. Very good claret!

12. Chateau Pichon-Lalande 1996 Pauillac

A bit more plummy, lots of spice aromas. A decent mouthful of claret with soft gentle tannin but lacking the attractiveness zippiness of the Ducru-Beaucaillou.

13. This is the mystery wine, Chateau Léoville-Las Cases 1998, Saint Julien

I guessed this (wrongly) as being from Pauillac. Stephen, gave us a get-out-of-jail card by pointing out that the vineyard is just next to Chateau Latour, so, mistake or trick question? (I know, no excuses!). Same terroir as Chateau Latour fetching the most money of all the Léoville estates and the classiest. 

Lovely concentration of blackcurrant fruit, a balance of cedar wood character and softening tannin. Still very youthful. Delicious surprise!

Fingerprints of global warming?

Stephen Elliot provided a list of grouped vintages for tasters grouped in the following categories: 

Exceptional - 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009, 2005; Very Good - 2014, 2008, 2001, 2000, 1996, 1995; Good - 2017, 2012, 2006, 2003, 1999, 1998; Average - 2013, 2012, 2006, 2003, 1999, 1998

An observant taster on our table asked why the majority of exceptional vintages are mostly in this last decade, to which the reply was, "global warming". The follow0up question to that surely has to be, "for how long?"

Final preferences

Overall a really interesting and rare tasting, profiling two communes vertically. My preference score-wise has been for Saint Julien but it was interesting to note that the Pauillac’s appear to be maturing faster than the Saint Julien’s.

pontent canet pauillac label final
If I had to pick my desert-island wine from this list it would be the 2005 Pontet-Canet. 2005, a killer vintage!


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