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Bordeaux Primeurs 2012: Pessac-Léognan

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

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Several wonderful red wines have been made in Pessac-Léognan this year but the real successes are amongst the whites, not just up at the highest echelons but further down there are many refreshing, fruity white wines to be had too. The very best are rich, weighty, almost fat, with a fraction less zip than 2011, but very attractive nevertheless. The reds? I found them a little bit of a mixed bunch. There is no doubt that the wet weather caused problems for the Cabernets as it did elsewhere. Some of the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, while certainly ‘fresh’, were often angular in tannin, and many are a bit ‘grippy’ and ‘chewy’, even despite the fat, ripe Merlot on offer. My overall feeling with these is that you need to tread carefully. That said, it’s clear that great effort was put in by proprietors to try and make the very best reds they could in a challenging year, one that got increasingly so as the harvest progressed.

Topping Pessac-Léognan in both categories are undoubtedly the Clarence-Dillion properties Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion. The reds are amongst the best in the vintage, both with 60%+ Merlot in their respective blends. For me Haut-Brion is perhaps red wine of the vintage. Certainly Haut-Brion Blanc is white wine of the vintage. Maybe no surprise there. Chateau Pape Clément also has got it right wonderfully too. The red, with 65% Merlot in the blend, is opulent and seductive. The white is very good indeed, as is Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte’s as I’ve reported earlier.

IMG_4386Clarence Dillon’s Haut-Brion & La Mission great successes in 2012

At the UGC tasting I was very impressed with Chateau Bouscaut, both red and white. The white is really full and has lots of flavour and the red feels a good effort for the vintage. Chateau Malartic-Lagravière has pulled out the stops and made excellent whites and reds. Likewise Domaine de Chevalier impresses in both departments. The white is wonderfully pure with great depth and length and the red has plenty of fruit. Chateau Carbonnieux has produced a classically fine and lean white and a full, if chewy, red. UGC host Chateau Olivier has also produced a very nice white and a spicy, elegant red.

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Chateau de Fieuzal has made a weighty white and a red with lots of fruit and chew. I’ve written earlier on the very dense Chateau Haut-Bailly which I always find pretty backward at these primeur tastings but which comes good with a few years in bottle. For me it’s almost always tannic early on. Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion has made a deliciously floral white [it often does] and a good red. Chateau Haut-Bergey has produced a successful white, though the red felt a little disjointed. I’ve already mentioned Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte’s delicious white. It’s red is a very good effort indeed. I tasted it twice and I thought it a real success on both occasions. Outside Haut-Brion, La Mission and Pape Clément, it was certainly the next most impressive red in the appellation for me.

Chateau La Louvière has made a very good, modern white and a reasonably elegant red. Chateau Pique Caillou was less impressive in both departments than in recent years [it’s usually one to get excited about from a value point-of-view] as was Chateau de France. Chateau Latour-Martillac made a full, spicy white with lots of fruit and a stalky, fresh red with grip but plenty of guts.

Overall I came away slightly less impressed with the reds here than I expected, even given the vintage. There is no doubt that the bouts of increasingly heavy rain in October, and increasingly gloomy forecasts, meant that there was [understandable] urgency to harvest the Cabernets sooner than many estates would have liked. This is apparent in the rather angular tannins in some cases, this despite the plushness and ripeness offered by the fully ripe Merlot, as alluded to in the intro. 2012 is very much a vintage in which you have to pick carefully. It’s maybe a bit of a cliché to talk of a game of two halves, but it seems doubly so to me here, between white and red [generally] and between Merlot and the Cabernets [particularly].

The Monday of primeurs week was also given over to a comprehensive tasting of the other chateaux of Pessac-Léognan. I tried to taste as many as I could of these [the tasting itself was extremely busy and packed which slowed things down a fair bit]. There were lots of delicious, appetizing whites on offer. I think it’s fair to say that the problems the vintage caused the reds were more magnified at this level. Many may probably come through and some were enjoyable, Chateau Couhins red which was nicely handled, springs immediately to mind, but it is more the delicious whites that I remember from this day.

Chateau La Garde has made a wonderfully full and impressive white wine [the red is pretty plush too]. Chateau Le Thil Comte Clary, from the Smith Haut Lafitte stable, looked good, as did both Chateau Couhins and Chateau Couhins-Lurton. Olivier Bernard’s Domaine de la Solitude was also good, along with André Lurton’s Chateau de Rochemorin and, to a lesser degree, Chateau de Cruzeau.  I also thought Chateau Haut-Nouchet was attractive in a fresh, citrusy way along with Chateau Haut-Plantade, Chateau Le Sartre and Chateau Gazin-Rocquencourt.

Amongst the Graves shown at the UGC the whites were again more attractive than the reds. Chateau de Chantegrive has produced a very full white and Chateau Rahoul will take age nicely. Neither of their reds impressed though. Chateau Ferrande made an apple-y white and a reasonable red, though I wouldn’t rush out to order these.  Below are all my notes, laid out alphabetically. The three Graves properties tasted at the UGC are at the very end.

AOC PESSAC-LEOGNAN

Chateau Bardins, Pessac-Léognan

Deep colour; red fruits, some jam and lift; red fruits again on the palate which feels a bit extracted; little stretched here. 83-85? Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Chateau Baret, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; flinty, grassy nose; fresh and round on the palate with some lees influence and candy tones. Zesty and attractive with flinty notes. 75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sémillon 87-88+Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Red: Deep and saturated look; attractive lifted red fruits on the nose; quite satiny palate; ripe and nicely balanced with some grip at the end. Flavoursome. 86-88 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Chateau Bouscaut, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

White: very oaky, oyster shell with lots of grapefruit tones and citrus notes; very rich and big; waxy and full palate; lots of weight and some style in an upfront way. Good length and impressive effort. 53% Sauvignon Blanc, 47% Sémillon, 90-92 UGC Weds April 10, 2013.

Red: Deep and saturated colour; vibrant at edge; attractive ripe nose; lush and layered; some smoke and plumy notes; attractive palate with fruit as well as oak influence showing in mocha tones but there is plenty of blackcurrant, spices. Very good effort. 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 5% Malbec. 89-91+ UGC Weds April 10, 2013.

Chateau Cantelys, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; apple notes; ripe palate; full with crisp acidity; 85-87+

Red: Deep and healthy looking; blackcurrants, some cassis, some stalky, earthy and attractive qualities; ripe palate good fruit with attractive earthy notes. Good grip on the finish. 86-88+

Chateau Carbonnieux, Cru Classe de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

White: Very pale straw/green; round nose, candy notes and some honey; quite elegant palate; fine and lean; pretty classic Carbonnieux. 65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Sémillon. 88-90 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Red: Deep and saturated; ripe and lush nose; pretty fruits; real sense of lushness; palate good entry; ripe; black fruits again, plums, spices; little chewy tannin at the back but good depth. Goodish effort. 40% Merlot, 60% Cabernet Sauvignon 87-89+ UGC Weds April 10, 2013.

Chateau Couhins, Cru Classe de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; apples, grapefruit notes and citrus tones with some spicy ginger; spicy, waxy palate with some lees influence. Nice length. Very good 89-91+ Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Red: Mid depth; attractive plumy, cherry fruit to the nose; soft and reasonably plush; palate is mid weight and attractive; fruity but not forced. Nice balance for the vintage. No astringency here. 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon 86-88 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau Couhins-Lurton, Cru Classe de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; some wax and depth; broad and full, some candy too; full and spicy palate with grapefruit and citrus notes. 89-91 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau d’Alix, Pessac-Léognan

Mid depth; bright; some strawberry and red fruit tones; some earth; mid weight palate with some angularity to the tannin. 60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon 85-86 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau d’Eyran, Pessac-Léognan

Deep and saturated; ripe, some fatness but also a slightly green hint; palate ripe-ish but tighness to the tannins – another example of the ripe Merlot striking up against under-ripe Cab? 83-85 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Domaine de Chevalier, Cru Classe de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

White: Palest/washed gold; freshness and minerality; feels crisp; palate quite elemental; racy; almost Chablis Grand Cru like. Great minerality. Obvious class, usual restraint. 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillon. 92-94+ UGC Weds April 10, 2013.

Red: Deep and saturated; very pretty nose [immediately reminds me of the 2005]; perfume and lushness; lots on the nose; powerful entry; plenty of matter but a little angularity to the tannins on the end which gives a sappy finish. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot. 89-91+ UGC Weds April 10, 2013.

Domaine de la Solitude, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw; grapefruit and citrus notes to the nose; feels weighty; some candy notes and freshness too; lees influenced; barrel ferment notes on the palate; feels a tad disjointed but should meld. 86-88 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau de Cruzeau, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; spicy grapefruit, some candy; attractive nose; pretty forward; some grass too; some weight and density to the palate; pretty full. 87-89 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Red: Mid depth; stalky Cabernet with blackcurrant fruit and freshness; some cherry. Rather angular tannins on the end. 85-87 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau de Fieuzal, Cru Classe de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

White: Very steely looking; some candy, lees; feels full; some spice and ginger tones; waxy palate and pretty deep and works well. 65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Sémillon 91-93 UGC Weds April 10, 2013. [Earlier note] Green/gold; candy, some cashew, depth and finesse; broad palate which has weight and depth; linear with good length. Classic de Fieuzal. 91-93+ Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Leognan tasting

Red: Deep and saturated; black at centre; some earth black fruits, feeling of depth to the nose; some coffee and smokey tones from the oak at the back; sweet entry, black fruits, some oak influence that needs to meld; some chew and grip but ripeness to the tannins; 89-91+ UGC Weds April 10, 2013.

Chateau de France, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw/gold; some apple; sturdy and fresh; some grass and apple tones on the palate; lacks depth versus the rest but refreshing with some zip. 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon 86-88 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Leognan tasting

Red: Deep and vibrant; smoke, some earth; black fruits and quite lush; some astringency on the palate; wine has a dry and rather angular finish. Short and dry on the very end. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 40% new oak 84-86 [Earlier note] Mid depth; some jam on the nose; red fruits; layered and reasonably plush; all up front as palate seems a little hollow in the middle. Finishes tannic and dry. 84-86 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Leognan tasting

Chateau de Grandmaison, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; apple and candy; some lees notes; honey on the palate, lacks a bit of depth. 85-87 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Red: Mid depth; some smoke, earthy; little angular on the palate with green-ish tannin for me. 83-85 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau de Rochemorin, Pessac-Léognan

White: Palest green/straw; grassy and fresh; candy and some spice; lifted and attractive; waxy and broad palate, spicy and modern. Some length. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Nice stuff in a forward way. 88-90 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Léognan tasting

Red: Mid depth; some perfume, black fruits and a little stalky note; palate quite chewy with enough flesh to match the tannins. Pretty chewy finish. 85-87 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Léognan tasting

Chateau de Rouillac, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; grapefruit, spices; Loire-ish; quite light on the palate; little acid. Not unattractive if a bit slight. 85-86. Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Léognan tasting

Red: Mid depth; lifted earthy nose; some red fruits, blackcurrant notes; earthy blackcurrant tones on the palate; little pinched towards the end; bit angular on the finish. 84-86. Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Léognan tasting

Chateau Ferran, Pessac-Léognan

White: Palest green/gold; some apple fruit; pretty neutral; quite simple. Lacks depth and interest. 85-86 Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Léognan tasting

Red: Mid depth; earth, dust; palate lacks a bit of ripeness; chewy at the back. Finishes tannic and dry. 83-85 Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Léognan tasting

Chateau Gazin-Rocquencourt, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; attractive candy and pear drop notes; fresh with some weight; mid weight palate with apple and pear drop fruit and some flint. Crisp. 86-88 Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Léognan tasting.

Chateau Haut-Bailly, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Deep colour; vibrant edge; lots of briary and blackcurrant fruit on the nose; sweet ripe fruit attack and then come the tannins; little chewy on the palate [it always seems to be in its youth]; very dense and clearly lots of matter here but slightly drying quality to the tannins. Usually sorts itself out later. Serious, chewy and tannic. Probably underrating this and look forward to seeing it again down the track. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. 90-93+ Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC

Chateau Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Léognan

White: Palest colour; quite mineral; steely; little flint; quit broad palate; full flavoured with depth here maybe lacks a little zap on the finish but good effort. 87-89+ Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Léognan tasting

Red: Mid depth; lifted oak influenced nose; black fruits and spices; little Magrez like [don’t necessarily mean this as a criticism]; layers and polish to the nose; some pretty fruit but lots of oak currently disjointed the palate; makes it finish chewy and angular. Plenty of fruit if the palate settles but will always have a twist of tannin at the end. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot 85-87 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Léognan tasting

Chateau Haut-Brion, Premier Grand Cru Classe, Pessac-Léognan

Deep and dense looking; ripe and extremely enticing nose; very lush but also very composed; attractive and fractionally lusher even than La Mission; seamlessly integrated oak; very flattering nose; tighter palate than the nose suggests, lots of pent up fruit, tightly coiled; clearly a lot of matter and material; much dense and more obviously structured than La Mission. Turns out to be pretty serious despite the flattering, come-hither aromatics. Clearly one of the wines of the vintage, if not the wine of the vintage for me. 65.5% Merlot, 32.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc 14.9% alc, 3.46 pH. 96-98+

Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Steely silver/gold; grapefruit, some spices, peachy note and ginger lift; lots of apparent depth; firmer and denser even than La Mission; lots of layers to the palate and real depth. Excellent length. Profound. Fractionally less acid than 2011. 55% Sémillion, 45% Sauvignon Blanc 14.15% alc 96-98+

Chateau Haut-Lagrange, Pessac-Léognan

Red: Mid depth; stalky blackcurrant notes; some wine gums; dense; dry tannin on the finish and feels a bit pinched. 82-84 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau Haut-Nouchet, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; broad, some spice, grapefruit tones; quite attractive; flint and grass on the palate; some race and zip. Not weighty but quite fresh. 86-88 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau Haut-Plantade, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; some lees, some candy and almond notes; good palate, spicy and quite lively and refreshing. Good. 86-88+ Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Deep but healthy looking; earthy notes, Cabernet Franc influence, spicy; lifted and attractive with some coffee notes; nice entry, very fresh and clean, little leaner in the middle than Le Clarence but returns for a long-ish finish. Tannins have some edges to them and less fine than in the grand vin. 90-92

La Clarté de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Pale green/silver-gold; grapefruit, oyster shell; ginger spice; very open and very good; mid-weight but full of flavour on the palate; packed with fruit; maybe lacks a bit of zip. Good length. 58% Sémillon, 42% Sauvignon Blanc 13.95 alc 91-93+

Chateau La Garde, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale green/gold; attractive, spicy nose; some citrus and grapefruit; fruit driven and appealing; big palate, full, spicy with weight; nice mouthful. Zesty and very appealing. A real hit for me. 90-92 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Red: Mid depth, quite plush nose with stalky, black fruits; texture and layers here but also grippy tannins. Will come good. 86-88 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau La Louvière, Pessac-Léognan

White: Full and quite deep on the nose; broad; some spice on the palate, ginger and candy tones; will fill out further. Modern. 87-89+ Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Leognan tasting

Red: Mid depth; some spices, stalky Cab notes; feels high-toned and elegant; some blackcurrant and cassis tones; palate cool and pure works in a du Tertre-ish way. Freshness and acid but not over extracted or drying which is the key. Little angular on the finish but will be ok. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot 86-88 Tasted Wednesday April 10, 2013 at UGC

Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Deep and dense, purple edge; deep and quite sweet, wonderfully ripe notes; enticing and a fraction tighter than Haut-Brion; earthier; very attractive palate; very composed with lots of layers and lots of flesh here; coffee and espresso notes on the finish. Very good length indeed. Very long. 62% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.95 alc 3.7pH 94-96+

Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc

Steely silver/gold; tight and dense on the nose; very deep; some wax; later some floral qualities emerge at the edge; waxy palate; full with incredible density and weight but also remains appetizing, though less apparent acidity than 2011. Overall excellent, long-term and one of the white wines of the vintage. 84% Sémillion, 16% Sauvignon Blanc 14.6% alc 95-97+

Chateau Lafargue, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; some smoky oak and appke; some spices; barrique influence; finishes a little flat – ie lacks bit of zip. 85-87. Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau Lafont Menaut, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw, appley Sauvignon aromas with some grass and flinty tones; attractive in a fresh way; some candy; elegance; good-ish effort. Had no time to taste their red but this is an attractive, fresh white. 87-88

Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; attractive wine; grapefruit; citrus tones; some ginger and spice; feels full; depth here; lots of spicy fruit characters on the palate with depth. Very attractive as usual. Very good in a fruity, elegant way but with power under the bonnet. 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon 91-93 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier’s Pessac-Leognan tasting

Red: Deep central core; glossy look; feels fresh and quite deep and fat too; lots of fruit, lashings here; some tannins and astringency also [the mix of the lush Merlot fruit with the fresher Cab]. Very chewy finish. This should pull through to be a pretty good effort. 56% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon 14.6% alc 86-88. Tasted Wednesday April 10, 2013 at UGC

Chateau Latour-Martillac, Cru Classe de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

White: Palest straw; some apple and spice; density; grapefruit and citrus lifts; lacks a bit of length at the back end but will fill out. 87-89

Red: Deep and dense; blackcurrants, some fresh, stalky Cabernet notes; some Morello cherry tones; fresh; initially sweet entry; lots of material and then the extracted tannins. This feels very chewy at present but there feels like there is sufficient fruit to handle this. Will always have bite at the end. 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot 13.26% alc 86-88 Tasted Wednesday April 10, 2013 at UGC

Le Clarence de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Deep and intense; some purple at edge; quite lush nose; full of layers. Pretty lush, ripe and full; very sweet entry but fresh and perfumed palate; nicely composed and very supple; precise with a certain freshness. Easy finish. Precocious. Will be drinkable almost immediately. Is enjoyable already. 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.  91-93+

Chateau Le Satre, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; some apple, another crisp number; fruit; fuller palate; not that bad and quite appetizing. Quite harmonious on the palate. 86-88. Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Red: Deep and glossy; some purple at edge; lashings of fruit and oak, ripe and very accessible some chewy tannin at the end. 85-87. Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Chateau Le Thil Comte Clary, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; firm apple notes; some smoke; flint and oyster shell; pretty full; palate more elegant. Good. 86-88

Red: Mid depth; healthy looking; creamy, quite fresh, pretty red; nice mid-palate richness and gently handled extraction. 87-88

Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Deep and saturated look; dense centre; feels deep; black fruits on the palate with oak; good material here; some dryness at the back; tannins a bit chewy. Tannic finish. 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon 86-88

Chateau Limbourg, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; some candy and wax, pretty good palate with some weight and refreshing crisp quality; some depth. 85-87+ Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau Luchey-Halde, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; lighter, some apples; apples and malic tones on the palate. Simple but OK. Fresh. 84-86. Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau Malartic-Lagravière, Cru Classe de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale green gold; full; some lees; quite deep with citrus notes; broad palate with depth and weight. Nice zest here too – lively zesty finish. Very good. 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon. 91-93+ Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Oliver

Red: Deep and glossy looking; ripe, full; some earth; sweetness and depth; palate is full of material, choca-block; lots of material but tannins not puckering or extracted in feel; remains a little chewy on the finish but potentially very strong. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot 90-92+ UGC Wednesday April 10, 2013.

Chateau Olivier, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; precise nose; pear drops, grapefruit; some candy; very attractive; floral characters too; bold palate, pent up; grapefruit tones and spicy notes; very good indeed. Salty finish. Refreshing. 90-92 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Red: Mid depth; spice, blackcurrant, some stalky notes; palate ripe entry, fat in the middle with some astringency at the back. Grippy on the finish. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot 86-88 UGC Wednesday April 10, 2013

Chateau Pape Clément, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

White: Palest silver/gold; some candy, pear drop; grapefruit and zest but in check; elegance here; powerful palate with lots of depth; great mouthfeel and very long. Spicy and zesty finish. Brilliant effort. 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillon, 15% Sauvignon Gris. 94-96+ Tasted Monday April, 8, 2013 Pessac-Leognan tasting at Chateau Olivier [Later note] Pale straw/gold; quite full and fat, some lees and grapefruit citrus tones; very full and deep; palate has some pretty qualities and is also very round and full. Lots of weight ultimately here and length. 94-96 Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC

Red: Deep and saturated look; dense; very pure and seductive black fruit nose; lots of depth; black cherry, plums, very lush indeed; little oak at the edge; real depth to the nose; lots of fresh fruit flavours on the palate; opulent Merlot [65%], ripe and lots of material; some real chew and depth but you really end up marveling at the wonderful quality and depth of fruit here. In a much lusher, more forward style but not far behind Haut-Brion and La Mission for me. 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. 94-96+ Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC

Chateau Picque Caillou, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; some wax and wet dog; quite full initially if lacks a bit of zip. OK 85-87 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Red: Deep colour; vibrant edge; some creamy notes; black fruits; some stalky Cabernet tones; ripe attack; grip on the palate; needs to fill out [I’m sure it will] Grippy and earthy at present. Chewy finish. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot 36% new oak 13% alc 85-87 UGC Wednesday April 10, 2013

Chateau Pontac-Caillou, Pessac-Léognan

Red: Deep and saturated look; slightly green note; earthy; dry palate and feels hard to me. 84-86 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Chateau Pontac Monplasir, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; fresh; some apple tones, candy and some wax; crisp palate and refreshing. Lacks depth and intensity, but has a certain crispness. 84-86 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Chateau Roche-Lalande, Pessac-Léognan

White: Pale straw; attractive fresh nose; nicely handled; grapefruit and spice; bit of flint; crisp palate with citrus freshness. 86-87+ Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Red: Mid depth; very ripe and jammy; strawberry and red fruits; quite worked and jammy with oak and chewy tannin on the finish. 84-86 Tasted Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier.

Chateau Seguin, Pessac-Léognan

Deep at centre; some oak, layers of fruit and lots of oak; depth; flesh here, lots of material that needs to settle but has depth and grip. 85-87. Monday April 8, 2013 at Chateau Olivier

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan 

White: Palest silver/green; full and broad; some wax and grapefruit; lots of density to the palate; very ripe material; weight and density here; with very good length. 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris. 92-94+ Tasted Monday April, 8, 2013 Pessac-Léognan tasting at Chateau Olivier [Later note] Steely silver/green; grapefruit, lees, quite serious; some ginger spice; deep; very full almost waxy palate. Very full, very good indeed. 93-95 Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC

Red: Deep and dark; creamy, deep and layered on the nose; attractive; very fiull; and textured on the palate with layers of fruit; quite firm tannins and nice bite at the end. Good freshness. Excellent effort. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. 92-93+ Tasted Monday April, 8, 2013 Pessac-Léognan tasting at Chateau Olivier. [Later note] Deep and saturated; some nutty oak, little reminiscent of Domaine de Chevalier; red fruits alongside some black cherry; chewy palate with just a little angularity to the tannin; lots of plushness from the Merlot disguises the slight astringency of the Cabernet. 90-91+ Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC

AOC GRAVES

Chateau de Chantegrive, Graves

White: Pale straw/green tinge; some grapefruit and lees; similar notes on the palate with candy/pear drops. Good effort. 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Sémillon 87-88 Tasted at UGC Wednesday April 10, 2013.

Red: Mid depth; vibrant edge; some lift and ripe, black fruits; sweet attack but then come the astringent tannins. Very angular finish. May settle. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot 84-86 Tasted at UGC Wednesday April 10, 2013.

Chateau Ferrande, Graves

White: Pale and delicate; flinty; some apple; candy tones on the palate with some lees; little loose on the finish. 43% Sémillon, 24% Sauvignon Gris, 23% Sauvignon Blanc 85-87 Tasted at UGC Wednesday April 10, 2013.

Red: Nice colour; glossy; purple at edge; attractive and forward; palate lush entry; spicy quality; some chew but plenty of fruit and less drying than Chantegrive at this stage. Will be OK. 85-87 Tasted at UGC Wednesday April 10, 2013.

Chateau Rahoul, Graves

White: Colourless/green hints; fresh, flinty and grassy tones; waxy palate with lees notes; will age nicely. Lees and wax on the finish. 80% Sémillon, 20% Sauvignon Blanc 87-89+ Tasted at UGC Wednesday April 10, 2013.

Red: Mid depth; glossy and vibrant at the edge; some stalky Cabernet highlights; little earth; quite grippy palate [surprisingly] and seems to lack flesh. I’d have liked to looked at this again. 84-86. Tasted at UGC Wednesday April 10, 2013.

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