Chateau Leoville Barton
Ranked as a 2nd growth in the 1855 classification of the Left Bank, Château Léoville Barton is situated in Saint-Julien. The dynasty was founded in 1722 by Thomas Barton, who had left his native Ireland at the age of 27 and was sent to live in France by his uncles who had important trade links there. Arriving in Bordeaux he developed an interest in wine and decided to create a wine merchant company. By 1737 his business was flourishing and he had gained a reliable reputation, nicknamed “French Tom” by the Bordeaux locals. In 1743, his only son William, joined him in the company, but about this time the Droit d'Aubaine law was passed, which stipulated that all assets belonging to a foreigner who died in France would become the property of the French crown; therefore the astute Thomas Barton never purchased any of his own vineyards. Hugh, William's fourth son, inherited the wine business at the age of 20. However, the French Revolution prompted him to move back to Ireland, where he built Straffan House in County Kildare [now the illustrious “K” Club ], and this is where the present owner of Léoville Barton, Anthony Barton was born in 1930. Hugh kept close links with Bordeaux and acquired vineyards in the Médoc after the French Revolution; Pierre-Bernard de Pontet sold the Langoa estate to him in 1821, which became Château Langoa Barton. Five years later Hugh bought a quarter of the former Léoville domaine, and this would later become Château Léoville Barton. Three generations followed Hugh, although the families spent the majority of their time in Ireland. It was Ronald in 1924 who was the first Barton to take over the the wine-making activities in Bordeaux. During WW2 he was away in the Middle East, returning to France in 1945 to find the vineyards in a poor state, but he patiently restored them to their former glory. Ronald died without issue and left the estates to his nephew Anthony. Along with Mouton-Rothschild, the Barton's are the longest-standing family of winemakers in Bordeaux. 50 hectares are under vine planted with 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc, on an outcrop of Garonne gravel with a clay subsoil. The vineyards are managed sustainably and the average age of the vines is 40 years, with the oldest plot dating to 1953. The wines are aged for 18 months in oak, 60% new. The Léoville Barton style is classic and timeless, and one of total elegance and finesse.