Anyone seriously interested in wine, regardless of where their main interests lie today, likely traces some part of their winelover roots to the mother of all wine regions, Bordeaux.  
Italy and Bordeaux will be forever linked.  It’s said that the Romans brought the Cabernet grape to France long before the Bordeaux region was established and the French influence can be felt in Tuscany as well – from consultants like Michel Rolland who is responsible for some of the greatest Super Tuscan wines, to the Barone Rothschild partnerships with Mondavi, Frescobaldi and Antinori.  Cabernet is ever present in Tuscany and so this little SideTrip® focuses on two older Bordeaux. 
I love Bordeaux and I love it old.  Ever since Charles Emerson Winchester dared to procure a 6-pack of 1949 Margaux, the region intrigued me.  Recently, a friend invited us to dinner, and knowing that she was fond of Bordeaux, I decided to bring a 1995 Chateau Leoville Barton.  Not to my surprise, she had countered with a 1982 Chateau Larmande.
With a dinner of dry aged standing rib roast and roasted potatoes, we started the meal with the 1982 Larmande.  A wine from St. Emilion, on the Gironde Left Bank, the Chateau Larmande is approximately 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and only 5% Cabernet.  Today, Michel Rolland consults for this Grand Cru estate.   The 1982 Larmande is still remarkably dark as viewed in the decanter, where it sat for 45 minutes prior to our arrival.  In the glass, the wine displays a more subdued color, but abounds with wonderful aromatics. Crushed black stone fruit, dried leaves, minerals, cedar, herbs, and flowers are plentiful. On the palate, the wine is as classy as classy can be. It’s elegance is unsurpassed by any wine I have tasted this year.  The tannins are fully resolved, and the wine is velvety smooth.  The ample fruit is accentuated more by the prime rib. It’s hard to find fault in this 30 year old masterpiece. Perhaps with a bit more intensity to the fruit, this wine would be perfect. It’s damn close as it is. 98 points.  About $100 per bottle at today’s auction price.  Worth every penny.
It was hard to follow this act, but the 1995 Chateau Leoville Barton more than kept pace. From the Right Bank hamlet of St. Julien, this 2nd Growth claret is approximately 70-75% Cabernet, 20% Merlot and the balance to Cabernet Franc. Understandably, it was noticeably bigger and more full bodied than the 30 year old Larmande.  The aroma comes together nicely, with cigar box, black fruits, cedar, and dusty minerals. In the mouth, the wine is classy, the power of the Cabernet fashioned in a more reserved style. The solid core of crushed black stone fruit is medium to full bodied, with attractive espresso notes, and a pretty floral component. The wine is balanced and chewy, though the meat cut right through the tannins and accentuated the fruit in this claret. Delicious now, but I believe it will be even better – much better – and I’m willing to wait.  I’d cellar for 10+ years more.  I love old Bordeaux and this one will reward.  92 points.  About $60 on release. 
Here’s a look at both before dinner.  The Larmande is in the decanter……

Classy Claret:  St. Julien (Barton) & St. Emilion (Larmande)

 You can read more about the Leoville Barton here:  Chateau Leoville Barton

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