Léoville Poyferré is one of Bordeaux’s great vineyards, and during the first part of the 20th century it was the most highly regarded of the three second growth Léoville properties, but went through a bad patch and subsequently Las Cases took pride of place.
It gets its name from the Poyferré family, who owned it until 1865, but since 1920 it has been owned by the Cuvelier family, who also own nearby Moulin Riche in Saint-Julien and Le Crock in Saint-Estèphe. The Cuveliers successfully brought the property through economic crises and a world war, and since 1979 it has been ably run by Didier Cuvelier, who is fully restoring its reputation.
The 80 hectares of vines are planted on the Médoc’s famous Garonne gravel, and separated into several different vineyard plots, with an unusually high proportion (8%) given to petit verdot. Once harvested, grapes are separated plot by plot into 35 stainless-steel vats, before maceration in new oak barrels.
Advised by consultant Michel Rolland, Didier believes in picking late to achieve maximum ripeness and, as a result, the wine tends to be the most opulent and voluptuous of the three Léovilles. A blend of 65% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot, the aforementioned 8% petit verdot and 2% cabernet franc, the wine spends 18 to 20 months in wood, three quarters of which is new.
It is a wine that benefits immeasurably from keeping: it can be approached after 12 to 15 years, but it will age gracefully for 40 years, in some cases even longer.