One of the great advantages of writing about wine is the occasional opportunity to taste stuff that would normally be out of reach, except perhaps for a very special occasion.
And such an occasion happened last week when a few of us commentators gathered upstairs in Whelehan’s Wines in Loughlinstown (in what has just become John Farrell’s new restaurant, Eleven), to taste a selection of wines from the Cuvelier family of Château Leoville Poyferré, a second growth in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux.
Led by Olivier Cuvelier, we @looked at@ - as the phrase is- wines from the Cuvelier family portfolio. The jewel in the crown, of course, is Leoville Poyferré which sits alongside heavyweights from the same commune, Saint Julien, such as Leoville las Cases and Leoville Barton which has very strong Irish connections.
Poyferré slipped in terms of quality during the last century but has been right back on top form for over two decades, partly as a result of the influence of Michel Rolland, the consultant who found fame as the man who understood the distinctive preferences of Robert Parker, for long the most influential judge of wine in the world. Those preferences tend towards the big, round and fleshy but what he imparted to Leoville Poyferré has been something altogether more subtle and classic.
The 2014 is nevertheless rich and intense, a pretty fabulous wine that is just coming into its own, with a touch of cassis and the classic old Saint-Julien pencil shavings. Having said that, it will get better still and I’d be interested to taste again in ten years.
The second wine, Pavillon 2018, is quite a contrast, has more merlot than the big one and is consequently fleshier, savoury but far from lean, and very approachable and attractive right now.
I was intrigued to learn that the lovely Château Moulin Riche, in relative terms a ‘value for money’ fine Saint-Julien, is actually from a parcel of vines within the Leoville-Poyferré vineyard itself. The quality certainly shines through and the 2018 is a glorious wine, more supple than Leoville Poyferré, reflecting the parcel’s contrasting soil. My tasting note included the words intense, round, seductive, long. It’s not often that I can say that.
Wine of the Week;
Classic New World Bargain
"This would be a real challenge in a blind tasting as it has every appearance of being a classic, rather restrained and decidedly elegant Bordeaux. A New World bargain".
"The fruit is grown within the Leoville-Poyferré vineyard but on contrasting soil, hence the seductive roundness."
"This has its Saint-Estѐphe tannins tamed, producing a beautifully balanced claret. Punches above its price".
Fleshy and Forward
"The second wine of Leoville Poyferré and designed for early drinking, with more Merlot in the blend".
Monumental Wine to keep
"Still young but showing classic cassis and pencil shavings on the nose, this is most certainly a wine to keep".
Tom Doorley, Irish Daily Mail on Sunday, Sunday 2nd of April 2023.