If you are in the market, or simply need to reload on high quality mature Bordeaux, this is a great opportunity.
Our favorite Bordeaux negociant is offering a small allocation of the latest Ex Chateau release from Chateau Leoville Las Cases of their superb 1996 vintage, as it approaches the 25 year milestone.
While there is always a price premium on ex-chateau releases, this parcel it is barely 10% over the current market price for stock that has been knocking around with varying degrees of uncertainty for 25 years. A 10% premium is not just very very reasonable, it is absolutely compelling.
1996 - A Watershed at Las Cases
As many collectors will recall, 1996 was a fabulous vintage for Cabernet Sauvignon and a great Left Bank year, and at Leoville Las Cases in particular it produced such a brilliant wine (first review; Parker 96-100, then 98-100 in barrel) that Las Cases made the bold move to join the First Growths by pitching their En Primeur alongside that of Mouton, Margaux, Lafite and Haut Brion.
While they may not have succeeded in attaining that hallowed First Growth status in the long-run, as Mouton did before them, the move firmly cemented Las Cases as the premier 'Super-Second.'
The 1996 vintage of Leoville Las Cases still remains a legend.
Ex Chateau refers to stock that has been held back in the cellars of the chateau for later release. It is considered the primo example of any wine and deserves to be sold at a premium. It makes sense that that premium should be larger the longer the Chateau has held the wine, simply because the gap between the assured provenance of ex-chateau stock and stock in the general market increases as the wines become more mature. - Put another way: Ex Chateau means more for a 25 year old release than one that only hit the market just 2 years ago.
For as much as a quarter century of such assurance, an ex-chateau release often commands double the market price. So, this offer at barely a10% premium over the clearing market price is very unusual and should be welcomed with open arms by any collector who demands the ultimate reassurance of truly impeccable provenance and the peace of mind that it brings.
1996 Leoville Las Cases Ex Chateau - $440 per bottle
The wine is offered in an array of 3, 6 and 12 bottle original wood cases.
A single case of 3 magnums is also available for a modest 5% extra, pro-rata.
It is still in Bordeaux and will be imported for those that order it by refrigerated container to arrive in the Fall.
98 points Robert Parker
"Having previously rated it nearly perfect, I was apprehensive of a letdown about tasting the 1996 Leoville Las Cases once it had been bottled, but that concern was quickly dismissed once I put my nose in the glass. A profound Leoville Las Cases, it is one of the great modern day wines of Bordeaux. This wine's hallmark remains a sur-maturite (over-ripeness) of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Yet the wine has retained its intrinsic classicism, symmetry, and profound potential for complexity and elegance. The black/purple color is followed by a spectacular nose of cassis, cherry liqueur, pain grille, and minerals. It is powerful and rich on the attack, with beautifully integrated tannin, massive concentration, yet no hint of heaviness or disjointedness. As this wine sits in the glass it grows in stature and richness. It is a remarkable, seamless, palate-staining, and extraordinarily elegant wine - the quintessential St.-Julien. Despite the sweetness of the tannin, I would recommend cellaring this wine for 7-8 years." Anticipated maturity: 2007-2035.
Also available from this negoce, but not ex-chateau:
1996 Montrose $3900 for 12 bottle original wood case. 2 cases available
95 points Robert Parker - "This was a very strong year for the Medoc, as opposed to Graves and the Right Bank. The vintage has a very irregular reputation, but not so much for the Cabernet Sauvignon grape in the Medoc. Harvest occurred September 23 and finished October 6, a relatively short period, even at a large estate such as Montrose. The wine has sweeter tannins than the 1995, but doesn’t have quite the ripeness noticeable in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2010. This wine is the classic, or more traditional style of Montrose, with dusty loamy soil notes intermixed with blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Licorice, underbrush and floral notes were all present in this wine, which has good acidity and is not far from entering its plateau of full maturity. This was a year where Montrose used a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend – 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot."