Las Cases

Profile

Owner: Jean-Hubert Delon
Classification: Second Growth
Vineyard area: 97 hectares
Average annual production: 216,000 bottles p/a
Colour: Red
Standard blend: Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Merlot (19%), Cabernet Franc (13%) and Petit Verdot (3%)
Other wines: Clos du Marquis bottles 240,000 bottles p/a

History

Leoville Las Cases is one of the Medoc’s oldest and most prodigious wine estates. Formed in 1638, the winery was once part of Mont-Moytie – renamed “Leoville” after the property passed to the seigneur of Leoville in the mid-18th century. After the seigneur’s death, the estate was bequeathed to the Marquis de Las Cases Beauvoir and his siblings, though the French Revolution saw the Marquis flee France (fearing for his head), and the shared family property was divided. A quarter of the original Leoville was sold to a consortium at this point and would later become known as Leoville Barton. In 1840, the remaining land was partitioned, with the Marquis’ daughter inheriting a small holding – Leoville Poyferre – and his son Pierre-Jean acquiring the greater portion – Leoville Las Cases. In the Bordeaux classification of 1855, all of the estates that once formed part of Leoville were classified as Deuxieme Crus.

A lack of interest in the winery, or perhaps unsettled debts, prompted Pierre-Jean’s descendents to sell shares in Leoville Las Cases to Theophile Skawinski – a wealthy gentleman, and father-in-law to Andre Delon. Gradually, the Delon family increased their share in the estate, gaining majority ownership in 1950.

Though the ancestors of the Marquis de Las Cases still retain minority ownership, modern-day Leoville Las Cases is headed by Jean-Hubert Delon, the great-great grandson of Andre Delon. One hundred and fifty years after its classification, the chateau has acquired “super second” status, and is widely regarded as Bordeaux’s unofficial sixth First Growth.

Leoville Las Cases 2009

The 2009 vintage is composed of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 9% Cabernet Franc. Its alcohol is listed as 13.4%.

The most recent vintage received some of the chateau’s most positive critical reviews to date, with a potentially perfect score from James Suckling of the Wine Spectator (97-100), who was “blown away”, having never tasted “such a flashy sample”.

Jancis Robinson scored the 2009 18 out of 20 – “quite voluptuous”.

The vintage was released in London at £2,395, well above the current price of the 2005 (£1,900).

Market Trends

In comparison to the First Growths, Leoville Las Cases has never been so cheap. In early 2004, Las Cases was, on average, 55% the price of a First. It is now down to under 28% – even without including Lafite.

Those wanting to spread their risk away from the First Growths may want to give Las Cases a look. The 2006 and 2002 both scored 94 points on Wine Spectator from James Suckling and can be had for less than £1,000 a case. Or how about the “breathtaking” (JS) 100-point 2005 vintage, which can be had for under £2,000?

Las Cases graph