The word ‘Terroir’ means a lot more than just “soil” which is however its primary significance, but it does also include notions of climate, topology and geology. Although some wine producers particularly in the New World tend to discount ‘Terroir’ as an important factor in the quality of a wine, the vineyards of Langoa and Léoville Barton have no other explanation for the differences in character of the two wines.
These can only be explained by differences of ‘Terroir’ since other important factors such as grape varieties , vine culture and wine making are virtually the same on both proprieties. It is also interesting to note that the analyses of the wines show little variation in terms of alcohol, acidity, tannin etc., yet the two wines do have their own personality and show distinctive contrasts in bouquet and palate. The soil of both vineyards is basically gravelly with clay sub-soil ; the depth at which the clay is to be found and other soil characteristics vary from one part of the vineyard to another making it even more difficult to define exactly what are the major differences in the two vineyards.
Another important factor in the make-up of these vineyards is the drainage: if considerable progress has been made recently in some sectors of wine making, the art of good drainage was well understood and applied by previous generations. To produce good wine, vines do not require rich fertile soil as this would produce big berries with a high ratio of juice to skins, whereas the opposite is the ideal. For the same reason an excess of rainfall is not desirable for making high quality wine and what rain there is must be allowed to drain off rapidly.
The appellation Saint-Julien is generally considered to be one of the very best wine producing areas in the world and Châteaux Langoa and Léoville Barton are proud to be situated in the very heart of this exceptional region.
1821… when the adventure begins
Château Langoa has been a family property since the year 1821. For many years before purchasing this magnificent Château however, Hugh Barton had his eyes on Château Lafite but never succeeded in concluding the deal. These were the days before the classification of 1855 and although Langoa was eventually classified a 3rd growth it was surely the architecture, the elegant façade and harmonious proportions of the building which tempted Hugh.
Thanks to successive generations Langoa possesses a superb park planted mainly with oak trees. The gardens are a mixture of classical French style with orderly box hedges and symmetrical lay-out combined with an English influence of more natural landscaping. The present owners Eva and Anthony Barton continue to add points of interest, frequently involving the use of XVIIIth century stonework.
Built in 1758, the central part of the building comprises the three main rooms, entrance hall, dining room and drawing room. These rooms occupy the whole width of the home and in this way enjoy exceptional light with sunshine in the morning from the East and in the afternoon and evening from the West. The two wings provide some six bedrooms all elegantly decorated and today comfortably installed. This part of the dwelling is on the first floor, the ground floor being reserved for kitchen and cellars.
At one time there were even to be found barrels of wine ageing and waiting to be bottled. Today these cellars contain bottles of numerous past vintages but the barrels are housed in more practical buildings elsewhere on the property.
The interior decoration is a blend of French Louis XV and XVI furniture, tables and chairs from England and Ireland, a chandelier or two from Scandinavia. In the drawing room are hanging portraits of Thomas, William, his wife Grace and two Johnston relations ; in the dining room are those of Hugh, his wife Anna, his daughter Susan, his son Nathaniel and Nathaniel’s wife Mary. It is essentially a family home not necessarily respecting the strict rules of any period or style but reflecting the personal tastes of the inhabitants. While in the past the lack of heating and other modern comforts discouraged previous owners from occupying the house for more than a few months each year at vintage time, Langoa is today the permanent home of Eva and Anthony.