In the Las-Cases Lineage. 2005 Potensac in ex-château mags.

When the owner of Léoville-Las-Cases, Jean-Hubert Delon, wants to stupefy the château’s guests, he serves them blind the wine from his other château, Potensac. Just outside St. Estephe, Potensac has been in the Delon family “since time immemorial.”

Especially with age, Potensac acquires the characteristics of Las-Cases. And so we've dug through the château's collection to see what ex-château gems we could come with. First we scored with the brilliant 2009. And now we can offer magnums of the great 2005, also from Potensac's cellar.

The price for the 2005 magnums is an astonishing $129.95 each and $765 for an original 6-magnum wood case. Never moved from the château's cellar until this year, and then shipped in our own temperature-controlled container.

An Historic Estate
While the Delon family purchased Léoville-Las-Cases in the 1890s, their ownership of Potensac began at least a century earlier. The Potensac plateau’s gravel and clay croupes over solid limestone bedrock is an extension of St.-Estèphe's noble terroir. And it offers compelling evidence that Jean-Hubert Delon’s ancestors were shrewd judges of terroir long before the 1855 classification.

In fact, in the first edition of the influential Cocks & Féret Bordeaux guide, published in the early 19th century, Potensac was already being cited for “the special characteristics and longevity of its wines.” Potensac has produced fine left bank Bordeaux for centuries but, as at Las-Cases, found another gear once Michel Delon took charge in 1976. 

By the time Parker’s Bordeaux book was published in 1985, he was writing that Potensac was “the top wine with a Médoc appellation” and a château that “can challenge many a classified-growth estate in quality.”

Very Old Vines
Today, with an average vine age of half a century (and some vines 80+ years old), Potensac is even better. One major change has been an increase in the percentage of Merlot, which now makes up almost half of the cépage, augmented by 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and a tiny amount of Petit Verdot.

The Merlot thrives in the clay-rich gravel topsoil, and makes for a better balanced wine, with finer tannins. Vinified traditionally in both stainless steel and concrete tanks, with the malolactic fermentation in oak vats, followed by 12 to 14 months aging in used Las-Cases barrels, Potensac is a classically pure expression of its revered terroir. 

For more than four decades, Potensac has been one of Bordeaux’ great overachievers. And from the historic 2005 vintage, it is simply transcendent, easily standing shoulder to shoulder with many classified growths, at a giveaway price. 

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