The Wine Advocate’s William Kelley has fast established himself as one of the world’s leading critics. Whilst his tastes are clearly different to the original Wine Advocate, Robert Parker, he shares two key things: an impeccable palate and the conviction to call things exactly as he sees them. Long may it continue.
In December 2022 he published his favourite wines of the year – all from Bordeaux – and we couldn’t agree more with his “Wine for the Cellar” – 2019 Langoa Barton. He comments:
“The late Anthony Barton, who passed away earlier this year, was one of Bordeaux’s great gentlemen and will be remembered for his wit and generosity as well as his track record for producing high-quality, age-worthy wines for prices that never succumbed to the one-upmanship that so few Bordeaux proprietors seem able to resist. Langoa-Barton exists somewhat in the shadow of its nobler sibling, Léoville-Barton, with vineyards further inland and a higher proportion of Merlot, yet its quality has never been better and the market hasn’t really caught up. Readers who forget a case of the 2019 vintage in their cellars for a decade or two certainly won’t be disappointed.”
Without doubt one of the finest Langoa Bartons ever made, it remains very well-priced for what it is. At £420 per dozen in bond, this comes in at half the price of Léoville Barton and remains one of the best-value 2019s, indeed best-value classed growth clarets, on our list.
A timely classic for patient readers with cold cellars, the 2019 Langoa Barton is performing beautifully in bottle, unwinding in the glass with a rich bouquet of cassis, plums, cigar wrapper, pencil shavings and loamy soil. Medium to full-bodied, deep and elegantly muscular, its concentrated core of fruit is framed by lively acids and ripe, powdery tannins that assert themselves on the youthfully firm finish. Forget it for a decade and reap the rewards for the following four. Drink Date 2029 - 2065.
The 2019 Langoa-Barton has a much more classically-hewn bouquet with blackberry, gravel, freshly rolled tobacco and smoke billowing from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with sweet ripe tannins. It doesn't quite have the depth of its peers, though it is very well balanced, but it closes up shop on the finish. Cellar this for another 8-10 years. Tasted blind at the Southwold annual tasting. Drink 2025-2048
The 2019 is a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc. Saturate purple colour in the glass. The nose is expansive and enticing, layering ripe cassis and bramble fruits with savoury restraint. Cedar, baking spices, liquorice and nutmeg all come through. The palate is just as impressive, with great density at the core. Bursting with black fruits, it is highly seductive and powerful, but matched by mouthcoating, ripe tannins. The balance of fruit and tannin makes it more approachable than the Léoville Barton at this stage, but the structure and power are still there to make for a long, open drinking window. Complex and expansive with a very moreish flavour profile, with waves of spice, smoke and wood coming through, this is a hugely impressive wine for the money. Very long through to the finish, this is without doubt one of the finest Langoa Bartons ever made.
Plenty of blackberry, currant and floral aromas. Some mint as well, following through to a full-bodied palate with layers of ultra-fine tannins and wonderful length. This is sophisticated and beautifully crafted with style and personality, displaying its terroir. Extremely well done. Drink after 2025
Muscular tannins here, a little less succulent than the 2018 vintage but with greater structure and control, along with St Julien finesse. This is flush with cassis and blueberry fruits, alongside liquorice root, black chocolate, dark pepper spice, a ton of bristling tannins and a fresh core. Another brilliant vintage for a resurgent Langoa.