Chateau Léoville Barton
For the British, Chateau Léoville Barton is unquestionably one of the most recognisable and best-loved wines of Bordeaux; its iconic label, restrained style and (relatively) reasonable price make it a firm favourite with many connoisseurs and its easily pronounceable name makes it a safe choice for the risk-averse restaurant customer. The wines of Saint-Julien have long been popular in the UK; the quality is uniformly high, and the wines bridge the divide between the power of St Estèphe and Pauillac, and the charm of Margaux. If one wants a quintessential left-bank Bordeaux, Saint-Julien would be an obvious choice.
When Irishman Thomas Barton arrived in Bordeaux in 1725, it’s unlikely that he would have thought that his descendants would still be there almost 300 years later. The history of Bordeaux is littered with English and Irish names; Lynches, Talbots, Kirwans and Browns still feature in the names of classified growths, but only the Bartons still own the properties that bare their name.
Thomas Barton became a successful wine merchant, but as foreigners could not inherit property at the time, he didn’t own any vineyards. Fortunately, as it turned out; during the French Revolution the family had to leave France. It was Thomas’s grandson, Hugh Barton, who in 1821 bought the family’s first property; Chateau Langoa, followed five years later by the purchase of part of the nearby Léoville estate. It’s safe to assume that Hugh did well; ten years later the family purchased a large estate in Ireland (which is now the K Club Golf Course), and in 1855, Léoville Barton was declared a second growth and Langoa Barton a third growth by the government commission.
Despite maintaining their ties with Ireland and Britain (current owner Anthony Barton was born in Ireland), the Barton family are anything but absentee owners. Anthony Barton, having inherited both properties from one of the giants of 20th century Bordeaux; his Uncle Ronald; is now the only owner of a classed growth Chateau who actually maintains a home in the property. His home is at Langoa Barton; there has never been a Chateau at Léoville Barton since the Léoville estate was split. The wines from both properties are made at Langoa and, in case you were wondering about the elegant Chateau on the Léoville Barton label; that’s Langoa Barton!
In 2011, a third property was added to the family’s estates. Chateau Mauvesin; now Mauvesin Barton, is in the nearby commune of Moulis-en-Médoc and is now the home of Anthony Barton’s daughter Lilian and her family. The property has a history going back to the 15th century, and there are currently 51 hectares of vineyard and a mid-19th century Chateau. Lillian’s son; Damien Barton-Sartorius, will be at Bow Lane to present wines from all three of the family Chateaux.
Léoville Barton Menu
Barton Initio Bordeaux Rosé 2016
Chestnut-Stuffed Guinea Fowl Ballotine on Creamed Spinach
Chateau Mauvesin Barton 2012
Chateau Langoa Barton 2006
Chateau Langoa Barton 2009
Reserve de Léoville 2014
Char-grilled Beef, Gratin Dauphinoise, Seasonal Greens
Chateau Léoville Barton 2004
Chateau Léoville Barton 2009
French Cheese Selection
Chateau Léoville Barton 1990