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Bordeaux Primeurs 2013: Pessac-Léognan Whites

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Smith Haut Laffite - CopyThere’s a very fresh, saline quality to the whites of Pessac-Léognan in 2013 and overall the vintage looks successful. Comparisons are being made with 2007 and 2010, but with greater acidity than the latter. Certainly the wines are marked by freshness, emphasized partly as they are a bit less weighty with fractionally lower alcohols than usual. None of this is a bad thing. It makes makes for complex, nuanced and appetizing dry white wines.

I’ve already written on Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, two quite contrasting whites. Château Smith Haut Lafitte has produced a white that looks to be their equal. It has great depth and length and is wonderfully round. Château Carbonnieux has made something more expressive than usual. Often it is very tight and lean early on, classical if you like, but in 2013 it has more pronounced aromatics which, combined with the usual finesse, makes it irresistible for me. It is lovely stuff.

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Domaine de Chevalier has classical purity and excellent length as you’d expect. Château de Fieuzal looks long-term too, perhaps a bit fuller on the palate. Château Larrivet Haut-Brion showed very well. It has attractive aromatics and a palate of genuine finesse and elegance. Château La Louvière wasn’t far of the pace here either, perhaps a touch more upfront but this is a property that offers good value for money.

Château Bouscaut was more elegant than usual and both Château Malartic-Lagravière and Château Pape Clément were less expressive than I’d expected on the day I tasted. I look forward to seeing these wines further down the track as they were subdued.

I also had the opportunity to taste a broader range of wines from Pessac-Léognan commune at the Crus Classé de Graves tasting held at Château Malartic-Lagravière before the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux [UGCB] event. The tasting showed approximately eighteen or so extra wines from the appellation, properties that are not members of the UGCB.

Amongst these there were excellent whites from Château Brown, Château Couhins and Château Couhins-Lurton. These showed plenty of finesse and fresh fruit tones. Clos Marsalette, one of the Neipperg properties, also showed well in an upfront, spicy citrus style. There is a lot of freshness and zap to these wines and I imagine they will all drink wonderfully from the start but have the structure to take some age, if you can keep your hands off them! I also enjoyed Château Cantelys, from the Smith-Haut Lafitte stable, as well as vibrant and zesty wines from Château Gazin-Rocquefort. Château Haut-Nouchet and Château Rouillac.

There were also attractive wines from Château Baret. Château Pique Caillou, Château Le Bruileau and Château de Cruzeau, as well as Château La Garde, Château de Rochemorin and Domaine de Grandmaison. These are less complex than those above but they do have lots of zest and fruit – and positively shriek out to be drunk with oysters and other fruits de mer. Château Pontac-Monplaisir, Château d’Alix and Château Bardins were also sufficiently crisp and fresh.

The following wines are arranged in qualitative order. As ever the notes are important than the numbers. The majority of the wines were tasted at the Crus Classé de Graves event held at Château Malartic-Lagravière on Monday, 31, March 2014.

Château Haut-Brion Blanc, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Palest silver/gold; spicy grapefruit, wax and laolin notes; fuller and deeper on the nose than La Mission currently [the aromatic lift from the Sauvignon]; very polished; full entry, bold and full; a wine of breadth and depth; fresh acidity keeps the wine nice and lively; spicy grapefruit tones; excellent purity; good length. [66% Sauvignon Blanc, 34% Sémillon, 13.7% alc, 23hl/ha]. Drink 2016-2030. 93-95+

Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Léognan

Silver/gold; brilliant looking; limes, rock salt; quite tight on the nose; fuller palate with twist on the finish. Good length. Should age nicely. Slightly leaner style than past few vintages. [76% Sémillon, 24% Sauvignon Blanc, 13.7% alc, 23 hl/ha]. 2018-2030. 91-93+

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

Palest straw; very round and attractive; well integrated oak; some candy, fresh cut melon and white flowers; palate very fine; full and intense with great length. The best white at the Malartic tasting for me. Good acidity running through this. The estate feels that it has the saline quality of 2007 but the depth of 2010 with more acidity. Great stuff. [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris]. Drink 2016-2023. 91-93+

Château Carbonnieux, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Palest green/silver; full nose with wax, white melon and guava tones; attractive; elegance to the palate and acidity present; makes it very crisp and salty. Needs to round out but pretty classic and much more expressive than usual. Drink 2016-2024. 90-92+

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

Palest grey; round and fine; some lees and waxy notes; some oyster shell; racy palate with salty minerality; fresh; pretty good length and acidity. Moreish and good life ahead. Drink 2017-2025. 90-92+

Château de Fieuzal, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw; peachy fruit tones; full on the nose and attractive; some candy peel too; full palate with a waxy feel but also freshness; good depth; candy peel again on the finish. Good length. Long-term. 2018-2025. 90-92+

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Palest grey/silver; attractive nose – some peach, melon and pear drop notes; delicate entry with some oak influence; quite crisp and elegant on the palate. Good length. Attractive white as ever. Drink 2015-2023. 90-91+

Château La Louvière, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw; full aromatics; some peach and white melon tones with waxy note; palate round but with fine acidity which leaves a salty tang on the fresh finish. Spot on. Drink 2015-2022. 89-91+

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

Very pale grey/gold; round; little dumb; some oyster shell but very restrained for Pape Clement; palate firm; mid weight; some zap and good length. Quite crisp on the end. Subtle and needs time to fill out. Drink 2018-2025. 89-91+

Château Brown, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw; fuller and fatter on the nose; attractive; some wax and oyster shell; nice weight; grapefruit tones; some lees influence; nice and moreish. Very good effort. Shows real promise. Drink 2016-2022. 89-91

La Clarté de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Pale grey/gold; grapefruit, peardrops and candy; open and attractive; weighty palate; some oil but fresh; attractive. Little loose on the finish. [61% Sémillon, 39% Sauvignon Blanc, 13.2% alc]. Drink 2016-2022. 88-90

Château Couhins-Lurton, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw; white melon and hint of grapefruit zest; some lees influence; rounder on the palate than some; nice zap and zing on the finish. Drink 2015-2023. 88-90+

Clos Marsalette, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw/gold; grapefruit; white melon; very tangy and attractive aromatics; lees influenced palate with tangy grapefruit and citrus tones. Very zesty and full of life. Vibrant style. Drink 2015-2023. Tasted Malartic-Lagraviere 31/3/14. 88-90+ [second note] Pale straw green; very attractive grapefruit tones with waxy notes; full with nice lees influence; full and attractive on the palate. Nice freshness. Attractive white. [50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Sémillon, 30% new oak]. Drink 2015-2020. Tasted Canon-la Gaffeliere 2/4/14. 88-90+

Château Bouscaut, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Pale green/gold; steely; some oyster shell; quite elegant and crisp on the palate; good length at end. More vital and crisper than usual. Elegant. [60% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon]. Drink 2016-2022. 88-90

Château Latour-Martillac, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Steely looking; zesty grapefruit and citrus nose; some apple too; quite crisp and elegant on the palate with a zippy finish. Refreshing. [70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillon]. Drink 2015-2023. 88-90

Château Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Léognan

Very pale straw; grassy tones; quite full; some lees influence with melon and peach tones; similar notes on the palate and fresh, lively acidity. Good wine. Drink 2015-2020. 87-89+

Château Malartic-Lagravière, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw; some peach; wax but a little dumb; broad palate with grapefruit and citrus hints. This sample lacks expression and needs to fill out. Drink 2015-2023. 87-89

Château Olivier, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Palest grey; very composed; finesse here; freshness and lively acidity on the palate; lighter styled perhaps a little short on the finish though perhaps will fill out further. Drink 2015-2023. 87-89

Château Cantelys, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw; firm; some oyster shell and lees notes; palate poised and attractive; nicely round with some apple notes; should fill out a bit. Poised. Drink 2015-2022. 87-89+

Château Couhins, Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Palest green/silver; grassy with a grapefruit tang; fatter palate with some spices and apple notes. Fresh and lively. [95% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris]. Drink 2015-2020. 87-88+

Château Gazin Rocquefort, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw; some honey and wax alongside peardrop and children’s candy; attractive palate; quite full. [100% Sauvignon Blanc]. Drink 2015-2020. 87-88+

Château Rouillac, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw; attractive aromatics; tangy with some citrus tones; fresh and crisp but also quite full on the palate. This has promise. Fresh finish. [70% Sauvignon Blanc, 16% Sémillon, 14% Sauvignon Gris]. Drink 2015-2022. 87-88+

Château Haut-Nouchet, Pessac-Léognan

Very pale straw; spicy aromatics with grapefruit tones; some apple; crisp palate and acidity in check – with life but not rasping. Drink 2015-2020. 86-88.

Château Pique Caillou, Pessac-Léognan

Very pale straw; some honey and candy tones; quite a light style; zesty grapefruit tones on the palate with quite a bit of zap and acidity. Fresh style. Drink 2015-2020. 86-88

Château Baret, Pessac-Léognan

Colourless grey/gold; attractive peardrop and grapefruit tones; barrique influence some weight and richness; good effort. Attractive white. Drink 2015-2018. 86-87

Château Le Bruileau, Pessac-Léognan

Steely look; oak influenced with some white melon notes; attractive nose; quite crisp palate and less expressive than the aromatics. Finishes with a salty tang. Drink 2015-2020. 86-87

Château de Cruzeau, Pessac-Léognan

Pale silver/grey; spices; apples; feels fresh; round palate again with spicy apple tones. Crisp and grassy. Fresh and for immediate drinking until 2018. 86-87

Château La Garde, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw; grapefruit and citrus tones; fresh; some wax too; crisp palate in the style of de Cruzeau. Drink 2015-2018. 85-87

Château de Rochemorin, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw; some gooseberry and waxy tones; fresh and attractive; saline palate; perhaps a little rasping at the edge so needs settle. Crisp certainly. Drink 2015-2018. 85-87

Domaine de Grandmaison, Pessac-Léognan

Very, very pale; grass; fresh meadow and candy/peardrop notes; crisp and refreshing. Drink 2015- 2017. 85-87

Château Bardins, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw; honey and some cream; elegance and soap; crisp and elegant style. Drink 2015-2018. 85-86

Château d’Alix, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw/grey; some soap and wax; tangy grapefruit tones; palate crisp and correct. Drink 2015-2018. 85-86

Château Pontac-Monplaisir, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw; apples and citrus tones; simple but fresh; crisp palate. Drink 2015-2018. 85-86

Château Le Sartre, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw; grapefruit tones; zesty; fresh and sappy palate which needs to settle; acidity little dominant. Drink 2015-2018. 84-86

Château de France, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw; very neutral on the nose; nutty notes and some wax; not that impressive in the line up. Drink 2015-2018. 83-85

Château Ferran, Pessac-Léognan

Palest straw; some apple and grapefruit tones; citrus notes; bit too green and acidic on the palate? Drink 2015-2018. 83-85

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