The excellent Château Lagrange is one of St. Juliens great wines - powerful, full-bodied and concentrated. The vintages since 1985 introduce ripe fruit aromas of rich black currant and cherry, spicy, toasty new oak, minerals, and in some vintages cedar and charcoal. They are appealing when young but also have great potential for long aging. They are also very reasonably priced for their level of quality, and dependably fine 7-20 years following their vintage.
Chateau Lagrange Winery
Grapes have been grown at Chateau Lagrange, St.-Julien, for over 600 years. A Third Growth in the Classification of 1855, it is the largest classified growth in the Medoc with 113 hectares under vine. It was acquired in 1983 by Suntory, the Japanese wine and spirits conglomerate, which has spared no effort or expense in extensively replanting and renovating the estate. The property is planted with 65 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 28 percent Merlot and 7 percent Petit Verdot. Chateau Lagrange has one of the larges plantings of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux, and often uses more of this grape variety in the blend than other chateaux. Today, Chateau Lagrange is under the direction of winemaker Bruno Eynard, who has been at the estate since 1990.
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The smallest of the top four Haut-Médoc communes, St-Julien is directly south of Pauillac. With no first growths to its name, the commune often goes overlooked. But it has 11 excellent second, third and fourth growths, and the highest proportion of classified growths of the top four. It doesn't have the concentration and powerful punch of a Pauillac or the soft elegance of a Margaux, but the wine of St-Julien combines the best of its northern & southern neighbors.
A good descriptor of St-Julien wines is balance. Cabernet Sauvignon-based like all left bankers, St-Julien also adds a bit of Merlot for softness. The best known chateaux are the Léovilles – Léoville-Barton, Léoville-Las Cases, Léoville Poyferre - although Barton and Las Cases are more common and more recognizable to consumers. All three are second growths and top notch for their class. The other well known chateaux are Chateau Gruaud-Larosse & Lagrange, a second growth and fourth growth, known for reliable quality.
About France - Other regions
When it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and
Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.