Cigar Aficionado

2000 Léoville Las Cases

If you haven't heard about Bordeaux's 2000 vintage, then you probably don't drink wine. The year matched the symbolic appeal of the millennium by producing fabulous red wines in France's premier wine region. It made the sort of wines that wine aficionados get incredibly excited about -- deeply colored, wondrously aromatic and powerfully concentrated and structured. The best 2000 Bordeaux are sure to be classics, along the lines of other great years such as 1900, 1945 and 1961, not to mention 1982, 1989 and 1990. And Léoville Las Cases may be the year's best buy.

If an extraordinary vintage presents a problem, it's that global demand pushes prices to extraordinary levels. The top wines of the vintage, particularly such first growths as Margaux and Latour, already sell for more than $400 a bottle -- and they have not even been delivered. The 2000s from the best names are still in the cellars of wine estates, not to be shipped until early next year. Therefore, wine merchants are currently selling on a futures basis, or en primeur as the French say. You are effectively buying the wine before delivery to assure its price and availability.

I have tasted all the great wines of the vintage, and my pick for the wine of the vintage is Château Margaux, a truly phenomenal young wine with breathtaking richness and power. My runners-up are Latour, Lafite and Léoville Las Cases. Since the choice of Margaux is based on preliminary tastings of unfinished wines, any of these names -- or maybe even something unmentioned -- could finally end up as my top-scoring wine of the vintage.

And this is why you should buy some 2000 Léoville Las Cases.

The Las Cases 2000 is first-growth quality, just like the 2000 made at its neighbor Latour, and it sells for about half the price of the first growth at just over $200 a bottle. It's a super intense young red, with masses of black currants and raspberries and hints of black licorice and flowers on the nose. Full bodied, with an amazing first impression of Cabernet Sauvignon on the palate, the wine is an explosion of flavors on the palate with a bounty of fruit and ripe velvety tannins.

Owner Jean-Hubert Delon, who also happens to be a keen cigar smoker, says the 2000 is the greatest Las Cases his family has ever produced. That's saying a lot because his other two great wines, the 1982 and 1985, are 98-pointers. Don't miss this one.


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