Léoville Poyferré, and “How to Buy Value in Bordeaux”

Posted on: 08/27/18 12:00 PM

Léoville Poyferré

This is a perfect example of one of the most important principles to follow when buying Bordeaux, and particularly back vintages; buy beyond the vintage chart! Here’s how you get a ready to drink, 94 Parker point wine from one of St Julien’s most legendary estates, for an absolute steal. More than 10% below it’s release price!

Bordeaux pricing varies greatly year to year following all sorts of trends, not all of which are necessarily correlated with what’s in the bottle. It could be one critic’s scores, a perception of vintage in direct comparison with the year before, currency fluctuations, or wider economic booms or busts. Some vintages then become particularly underrated and underpriced with time, as all these factors fluctuate relative to each other over the years.

Released in the shadow of the legendary 2009s and 2010s and initially priced too high, 2011 Bordeaux did not get off to a flying start in the market. However, it was a particularly dry vintage which seven years on turns out to have produced some extremely delicious and complex wines for drinking in the medium term. As well as being excellent wines that are among my favourites to drink currently, the U.S Dollar is considerably stronger against the Euro than it was at the time of their release. This makes many 2011s considerably cheaper than they were on release. Pick the right ones, and you have among the best buys it’s possible to make anywhere today.

Step forward the spectacular Léoville Poyferré 2011. 94 points from Parker, 92-94 from Neal Martin, a Wine Advocate drinking window of 2015-2035 (note that Neal Martin’s note which suggests this ‘will soften out’ is from 2012. It has.)

More than 10% cheaper than its release price, and offered to you at the best price in the country.

Don’t follow the vintage chart. Buy this.

Léoville Poyferré

Château Léoville Poyferré, St Julien

“This property, which has been on a qualitative tear over the last generation, has produced one of the most successful wines of 2011. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, it is broad, rich, medium to full-bodied and dense. It boasts an inky/purple color as well as lots of concentration, silky tannins, and a bigger, richer mouthfeel than any of its St.-Julien peers. The result is one of the stars of the vintage. Tasted April 2014” 94 pts., Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

“The Chateau Léoville Poyferré is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc picked between 19th September and 1st October, sorted by optical machine. Astonishingly, it has a higher IPT than in 2010 at 94 compared to 82 last year. It has an attractive bouquet with fine delineation and freshness, fine tension and poise with exuberant blackberry and wild strawberry fruit infused with cedar and crushed stone. The palate is medium-bodied with tensile tannins, a sharp thread of citric acidity and very good weight. It lacks a little harmony towards the finish that shows a little hardness, but I think this will soften to turn out to be one of the finest Saint Julien wines in a difficult vintage. Tasted April 2012.” 92-94 pts., Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate

More about the wine:

Léoville Poyferré is undoubtedly one of the rock stars of the modern age in Bordeaux. Just south of Pichon Lalande in Pauillac and part of the historic Léoville estate that was long ago divided to become St Julien’s superstars Poyferré, Las Cases and Barton, it’s no surprise that some pretty stunning wine can be made here. It was however one of many estates that was seen to be ‘snoozing’ until the latter part of the 20th century, with much of the credit for the spectacular turnaround since given the legendary and recently retired proprietor Didier Cuvelier.

Cuvelier was responsible for renovation of both of the vineyards and the facilities. The process, in terms of public perception at least, could seen to have been completed when the 2009 vintage received the much sought after 100 points from Robert Parker, with all the glamour and attention that comes with it. It’s of note that since then, only the 2010 has a higher in bottle Wine Advocate than this 2011.

The style at Poyferré is fairly fruit forward and powerful. Sometimes for me it can perhaps even be a little bit too much, in the great vintages like that 100 point 2009, at least in their youth I find the wines can be almost overwhelming. In a more reserved year like 2011 where the vintage naturally leans towards structure rather than explosive fruit, I find the extra oomph that we get here is very much a good thing. I love the 2011 vintage, but even I admit that this is imbued with intensity, concentration and length that is unusual for the year. At this price it is a remarkably good buy, whether to drink now or to keep.

Posted in Bordeaux List By Guy Davies