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.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau de Fieuzal’
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.
The clues were there. Fewer big gun proprietors stood behind the tables at this year’s Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting. Some château regulars to Covent Garden were missing completely. And the braying roar of excitement from the trade that accompanied the 2009 and 2010 in-bottle tastings was missing here, replaced by a low, gentle, pinstriped murmur, ‘What on earth are we going to do with this vintage?’ I’m exaggerating a little because there were some good Bordeaux reds from 2011 on offer at the tasting, though relatively few set the pulse really racing. The real joy in this vintage is amongst the whites, particularly the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac, and the dry whites from Pessac-Léognan, though that’s not much consolation for a region mostly concerned with red wine production.
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.
Not for the first time does Pessac-Léognan stake a claim to making the most consistent and attractive wines in a single Bordeaux vintage. No mean feat when you’re producing dry white and dry red. Bordeaux 2010 is clearly a vintage of superlatives at the top level, but across the board here in Pessac-Léognan there are excellent wines. You can’t escape the vintage character – why would you want to – so there’s plenty of extract, density and tannin in the reds but there’s also wonderfully bright, refreshing acidity. That too makes the whites even better for me than in 2009, with a bit more freshness and zip, though 2011 probably trumps both [for whites].
This was without question the most exciting commune for reds at the 2008 MW Institute tasting. The same was also true in 2007. The wines are structured but have depth and complexity and overall feel pretty attractive and tasty. With one exception, unlike the other Left Bank appellations, there wasn’t the sense here that the wines were in retreat. Rather the wines seem to be developing well in this vintage. So if you were looking for an appellation to stock up with then do look at 2008 in Pessac-Léognan. The prices are still reasonable, the wines look good, some are drinking nicely already, and they have the structure and depth to take a bit of age.