Leoville Barton 1989
Tasting Notes and Scores
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 01/01/2003
This wine continues to lose out to its younger sibling, the 1990. Aromatically, the dark garnet (some amber is beginning to creep in at the edge) 1989 seems fully mature until it hits the palate. There is big, spicy, cedary, sweet cherry and black currant fruit, along with some tobacco notes in the impressive aromatics. On the palate, the wine is more narrowly constructed, medium-bodied, with excellent richness on the attack but then some relatively dry, dusty tannins in the finish. This kind of performance tends to suggest the wine needs to be drunk sooner rather than later. Anticipated maturity: Now-2016. Last tasted, 9/01.
In most tastings of the 1989 and 1990 vintages I have had a strong preference for the 1990, but in this tasting the 1989 provided the most charming drinking with its soft, voluptuous texture, big, spicy, cedary nose, sweet, expansive fruit, medium body, and excellent richness and purity. The wine reveals no amber at the edge, but it tastes surprisingly evolved and already delicious. I would not hesitate to drink it over the next 12-15+ years.
The bottle of 1989 Léoville-Barton is probably the best I have encountered over the years; indeed, it is better than a bottle opened by Lilian Barton-Sartorius when I visited the property a few weeks earlier. It has a comely old-school claret bouquet of red fruit infused with cedar and loamy scents, and maybe some dustiness, but I have come to expect that in older vintages of this Saint-Julien. The palate is medium-bodied, pure and elegant, with svelte tannin and moderate acidity and a surprisingly sweet, almost precocious finish thanks to that year’s hot summer. It has softened in recent years and yet there is still good backbone and grip to this wine. Just enjoy. Tasted at the 1989 Bordeaux dinner at Hatched in London.
A delicious, well-structured Bordeaux, with plenty of ripe fruit, beautiful berry, green tobacco and cherry character. Full-bodied, adding velvety tannins and a long, caressing finish.--1989 Bordeaux horizontal. James Suckling