The white wine harvest is already well underway in Bordeaux [see here white grapes sorted at Château Carbonnieux] and the early signs are promising. After a string of dreary vintages culminating in the washout 2013 harvest, Bordeaux has been blessed with a sunny early September and those properties in Pessac-Léognan that have begun picking the white varieties [Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris] seem happy at this stage. The weather still needs to hold fair for the harvest of the red varieties, Merlot at the end of the month and Cabernet perhaps at the beginning of October. But with healthy fruit and good anthocyanin levels in the grapes, there’s an air of optimism about the 2014 vintage that seems encouraging at this stage. More sun and warm temperatures are forecast, though there will be some moisture about later in the week.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Carbonnieux’
Pessac-Léognan usually comes up tops in a difficult Bordeaux vintage. Certainly there is no doubt that the best reds here in this appellation are amongst some of the most impressive 2013s. Interestingly too, qualitatively speaking, both Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion [pictured here] appear to have been knocked of their respective perches this year. For me Château Smith Haut Lafitte has surpassed both, while Château Pape Clément and Château Haut-Bailly, also felt fractionally superior. Certainly these three properties together have succeeded admirably in conquering the difficult conditions of the vintage.
There’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.
There’s so much to sink your teeth into in Pessac-Léognan in 2009. The wines have plenty of structure, weight and tannin, all disguised by the sheer gloss and abundance of sweet fruit in this vintage. There seems to be a bit more chew to the tannin here though than in the left bank appellations further north. Opulent wines have been made at Domaine de Chevalier, Château Malartic-Lagravière and Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Château Haut-Brion is a giant and will require considerable time. Château La Mission Haut-Brion has surprising freshness alongside the weight and alcohol while Chateau Bouscaut, Chateau de Fieuzal and Chateau Carbonnieux have made some of the best reds I’ve yet tasted from these properties.
While this vintage here can’t compare to the wonders produced in 2009 and 2010, the reds are better than expected given the tricky vintage. The wines displayed plenty of sap and bite at last week’s UGCB tastings but the fruit is there. There hadn’t been much doubt about the quality of the whites though from the very start. During the primeurs tastings Pessac-Léognan’s white wines showed plenty of fruit and style and none of these characters have been lost now that they are in bottle. Some are already delicious if you like wines with zest and life but many will benefit from a few years in bottle to broaden further.
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.