A soft, low-fill 1975 Chateau Léoville Barton
The 1975 Chateau Léoville Barton was produced by Ronald Barton, the great-great grandson of Hugh Barton who took an active interest in the family wine business in the late 18th century. Ronald Barton served with the Free French during World War 2. After the war, he returned to Chateau Léoville Barton to find the vineyard in a neglected state with up to a quarter of the vines missing. The post-war decades were lean and hard times that were complicated by the frost of 1956. Production levels did not rise until the early 1960s and the wines were not estate bottled until 1969, instead having been bottled at Barton & Guestier. Seagrams, which took full control of Barton & Guestier, had an exclusive contract for marketing the wines until 1976.
Perhaps Ronald Barton was conservative in the lean, post-war years for he did not invest any money into the cellar, oak barrels, nor in technology. Edmund Penning-Roswell attributes this caution to Ronald Barton’s experience as head of Barton & Guestier; he was a wine merchant and not a wine-maker. Clive Coates wrote that the 1970s were a “moribund time” for the property with the 1975 vintage, tasted in 1992, the best of the decade. This particular bottle, with its mid-shoulder fill, was destined for the trash bin and not the dump bin. The wine was fine enough for a glass or two but then I lost interest. The history, nonetheless, is interesting and with the purchase of three higher fill bottles, I remain hopeful. This wine was picked up at MacArthur Beverages.
1975 Chateau Léoville Barton, Saint-Julien
Shipped by Barton & Guestier. Imported by Chateau & Estate Wines Company. Alcohol 11% – 14%. Mid-shoulder fill. The wine was soft in the mouth with hints of fruit at the start. It then turned tart with rounded acidity and modest structure in the short finish. With air a roast flavor developed. * Now.