Chateau Leoville du Marquis de Las Cases, St. Julien, FR, 2011

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Chateau Leoville du Marquis de Las Cases, St. Julien, FR, 2011

WA 93+ : Medium to full-bodied and behaves like a first-growth; dense inky/purple color, structured, rich, impressively endowed effort that is meant for the long haul. Atypical for this vintage, it requires 5-7 years of bottle age and should drink well fo

Chateau Leoville Las Cases has one of the longest histories in the Medoc. Leoville Las Cases was the property of some of the most notable and wealthiest inhabitants in France. The final royal family to own the estate is where the chateau draws its name from, the Lascases family.

But the history of what we know of as Chateau Leoville Las Cases does not begin there. We need to go back to 1638 when Jean de Moytie, a member of the Bordeaux Parliament owned a vineyard.

Moytie called it "Mont-Moytie. Mont-Moytie was one of the first chateaux in the Medoc to produce wine along with Chateau Margaux and La Tour de Saint-Lambert, which we know of today as Chateau Latour.

The domaine remained in the same family for almost 100 years. Through marriage, the estate ended up as part of the de Gascq family. Alexandre de Gascq renamed Mont-Moytie as Leoville, or Lionville.

The massive Leoville estate in Saint Julien was at the forefront of vineyard management at the time. Some of their ideas seemed odd at the time, but today they are still widely in use.

They changed the varieties in the vineyards to smaller berries. They trellised the rows with pinewood. They began aging the wine in oak barrels, which they kept clean using a sulfur solution.

While we take this for granted today, in those days, they were wild ideas! By the time Alexandre de Gascq died, with his steady purchasing of Bordeaux vineyard land, Leoville was one of the biggest vineyards in Bordeaux at more than 300 hectares!

Following the French Revolution, a portion of the gigantic Leoville estate was sold. Those Saint Julien vineyards became Leoville Barton. The property was divided in two in 1840. Pierre Jean de Lascases, the oldest son received a share, which became Chateau Leoville Las Cases.

At this point in time, now we have the birth of all three Leoville estates: Chateau Leoville Las Cases, Chateau Leoville Barton and Chateau Leoville Poyferre. Although the wines of Poyferre were sold under the name of Baron de Poyferre in those days.

While the vineyards and business operations of both Left Bank chateaux, Leoville Las Cases and Leoville Poyferre were separated, the buildings remained connected, just as they are today.

In fact, the parking lot is a common area used by both chateaux! You park in either one, to visit the other. This is a unique arrangement in Bordeaux, making it very easy to visit both chateaux, one after the other.

At the end of the 19th century, Theophile Skawinski purchased Leoville Las Cases. At the time, Theophile Skawinski was the managing director of Chateau Leoville Cases. Skawinski passed his shares to Andre Delon, which is the start of the Delon family ownership in Bordeaux.

At about the same time, Leoville Las Cases earns credit for creating one of the first official, "Second" Bordeaux wines with Clos du Marquis, which made its debut in 1902.

Chateau Leoville Las Cases has remained a family owned vineyard. Michel Delon managed the estate from 1976, through 2000. It was under the direction of Michel Delon that Leoville Las Cases rebounded and once again started producing wines worthy of its pedigree.

After the passing of Michel Delon in 2000, his son, Jean Hubert Delon took over managing the property and has continued increasing the quality of the wines here.

The Delon family, headed by Jean Hubert Delon and his sister, Genevieve d'Alton still own and manage Chateau Leoville Las Cases today. The Delon family also own Chateau Nenin in Pomerol as well as Chateau Potensac located well north of Leoville Las Cases, in the Medoc appellation.

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