A visit to Château Léoville Poyferré, St Julien-Beychevelle Bordeaux
Another one of the key visits on our trip to the St Julien Appellation (AOC) in Bordeaux was Château Léoville Poyferré, another second growth, one of fifteen Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths) as classified in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.
Like Léoville du Marquis de Las Cases, Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou, and Gruaud Larose (blogpost coming), three other second growth St Julien producers that we also visited, we hold or have consumed a selection of Léoville Poyferré dating back several decades to the early eighties.
|Map compliments Léoville Poyferré|
|St Julien-Beychevelle village centre, Leoville Poyferre |
in distance across route D2
|Le Saint Julien restaurant on Route D2 in |
St Julien-Beychevelle, opposite Leoville Poyferre,
down the street from Leoville Las Cases
With dinner we drank the Léoville-Poyferré 2008, a perfect complement to the daily special, cote de boeuf and pomme frites.
The Léoville-Poyferré estate and surrounding vineyards sit on the D2, the arterial route of the Médoc, across the road from former 'sibling' Léoville Las Cases. Adjacent to the property, across the appellation boundary in the Pauillac appellation is Château Pichon Baron, and across the road adjacent to Las Cases is the First Growth Château Latour, and Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Nearby is the other former 'sibling' Château Leoville Barton.
|Leoville Poyferre vineyard, Pichon Baron in distance, |
across road, Leoville Las Cases, Chateau Latour in distance
The rocky soil serves to naturally regulate soil temperature, holding the warmth of the sun into the night, and reflecting the sun upon the grapevines during the day. The terroir is enhanced by the moderating effect of the nearby river which tempers extreme weather and protects the riverside vineyards from frosts.
Léoville Poyferré is known to traditionally produce soft supple wines but in the recent years the wines have developed increased weight and body, largely due to the grapes being harvested riper and later, and because of increased exposure to new oak in the maturation process.
Here is the vinification room where each vineyard plot is vinified individually in one of the fifty-six stainless steel vats.
In 2010, the vat rooms were completely renovated, replacing 10 large vats with 20 new stainless steel, double skinned vats with a capacity increased from 60 hectoliters to 165 hectoliters, for a total of 56 vats in all. This provided for very precise vinification of the batch on a parcel by parcel basis. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel.
There are 27 double-walled tanks that are used for cold pre-fermentation macerations for 6 days. The extraction of color occurs gradually and pure fruit aromas are revealed.
Léoville Poyferré uses an ingenious system to move the wine from the tanks to the barrels from the facility across the road. They created a system of underground pipes to move the wine safely from vats to barrels. Prior to the underground pipes, the wine was moved by hand in steel tanks using tractors.
The batch is transferred to the barrel aging facility where the wine is aged in 75% new oak barrels for 18-20 months. Particular care is taken in the selection of barrels, the type of oak, and the preparation of the oak, in order to complement and harmonize with the character of the vintage, and the signature style that is Léoville Poyferré. The notable Michel Rolland serves as advisor to provide guidance in the vinification and the blending.
|Claire Ridley - Brand Ambassador |
Our guide and hostess
The hospitality tasting room sits across from the barrel building overlooking the courtyard, opposite the Château.
We were served for our tasting Léoville Poyferré from the 2005 and 2012 vintage releases, and the barrel sample of the upcoming 2018 release. The wine flight is carefully selected and paired with artisan chocolates to complement the vintage. A chocolatier advises the blend and source of each chocolate to be paired with each wine.
We also tasted the Léoville Poyferré Moulin Riche 2015. Chateau Moulin Riche is bottled and sold as its own, unique label and brand. The wine was historically thought of as the unofficial second wine of Château Léoville Poyferré. It was classified exceptional bourgeois in 1932.
Starting with the legendary 2009 vintage, when the flagship Léoville Poyferré received 100 points, Moulin Riche started being produced from its own specific vineyard parcels as its own label and brand. It is produced by the same technical team that produces Léoville Poyferré. On average, close to 10,000 cases of Moulin Riche are produced each vintage.
The Moulin Riche logo is designed as part of the branding of the flagship signature label Léoville Poyferré with the Château and its two towers, and colours. This is done by design to identify with the Cuvelier family wines, but to differentiate from the first label. Since the 2009 vintage, Château Moulin Riche has also gained notoriety as its own brand and distinctive wine.Château Moulin Riche is sourced from its own 50 acre Left Bank vineyard of Château Moulin Riche. It is planted in traditional, sanctioned Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (32%), and Petit Verdot (30%). They also represent the same St Julien terroir with gravel and limestone soils.
In vintages when the Petit Verdot is very ripe, it is also included in the grand vin, Léoville Poyferré.
The Moulin Riche wine is aged in a combination of new and used, French oak barrels for between 18 to 20 months before bottling.