The 2017 vintage was a difficult one for Stephan von Neipperg and his team. In the frost of April 27-28 they lost much of the crop at Clos Marsalette in Pessac-Léognan, half of the crop in both his Castillon estate Château d’Aiguihle and St Emilion property Clos de l’Oratoire. At Château Canon-la-Gaffelière frost reduced the harvest by 40%. Only the prized La Mondotte vineyard was spared. That’s the bad news. The good news is that team Neipperg have succeeded in making impressive wines, very much against these odds. This is partly thanks to the quality of the remaining crop, a huge amount of work in the vineyard but also a determination to encourage a useful harvest from second generation grapes. It is also says much about Stephan von Neipperg’s own strength of character. Determined not to be despondent, he encouraged his team in the face of adversity. When the going gets tough, as Billy Ocean famously noted, the tough get going.
Posts Tagged ‘Clos Marsalette’
Pessac-Léognan has produced some brilliant wines in 2016. Many have wonderful plush fruit tones and that moreish texture that defines the vintage. The knockout red this year is Château Haut-Bailly. For me it just pips Château Haut-Brion, Château La Mission Haut-Brion and Château Smith Haut Lafitte at this early stage. That’s not to say that these latter properties haven’t made belting wines [they have] but the purity and depth of Haut-Bailly is amazing this year. There is a bevy of other wines that are wonderfully lush and forward. To this extend I think 2016 might prove a relatively precocious, early maturing year here for many of the reds. Wonderful wines have been made too at Domaine de Chevalier, Château de Fieuzal, Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Château Haut Bergey and Château Olivier [lovely purity]. Château Bouscaut has produced a blinder. It is textured and lush. Château Pape Clément, usually right up at the top of the tree, felt a little subdued when tasted back in the spring. Expect this to come good during elévage.
It is clear that 2015 is a beautiful vintage for the red wines of Pessac-Léognan. There is purity, power and freshness in equal proportion. Alongside the districts on the right bank and the Margaux appellation, Pessac-Léognan has produced some of the most exciting red wines of the vintage. It starts at the top with an exceptional Château Haut-Brion and a broodingly powerful Château La Mission Haut-Brion, but the wines of Château Haut-Bailly, Château Smith Haut Lafitte and Château Pape Clément are of similar quality. Extremely attractive red wines have also been made at Château Bouscaut, Château de Fieuzal, Château Larrivet Haut-Brion, Château La Louvière, Château Malartic-Lagravière and Domaine de Chevalier. Château Picque-Caillou also looks a potentially good value buy along with [once again] Château Rahoul in Graves.
Pessac Léognan has had a very good vintage for its white wines in 2015. The growing season was almost ideal, with good weather during flowering ensuring good fruit set; the ensuing summer drought conditions were ameliorated by rainfall in late July and August and a dry early September allowed for a trouble-free harvest. Cooler than average September temperatures also helped preserve acidity in the fruit. While there are not the aromatic profiles of 2011, 2012 and 2013, there is weight and depth here in 2015. Some properties are even comparing the vintage to 2010.
2014 is a good to very good vintage for the red wines of Pessac-Léognan. The best have very attractive aromatic profiles, plenty of depth and texture to the fruit, and attractive freshness and acidity. There is a general sense that the wines need to round out and fill in further during elévage, but many show real promise. A few of the lesser properties lack concentration and in a few cases tannins were a little tough. Haut-Brion, followed by Haut-Bailly, Smith Haut Lafitte, La Mission Haut-Brion, Domaine de Chevalier and Pape Clément, have all produced very impressive wines. Behind these Olivier [especially] along with Bouscaut, Carbonnieux, de Fieuzal, and Latour-Martillac have produced reds of note. Again these wines are often priced competitively compared to wines of a similar quality in the Haut-Médoc appellations such as Pauillac and St Julien. Many, though by no means all, have been released at prices below that of comparable vintages [2008 for example] which makes them worth considering this year.
The quality of Pessac-Léognan’s dry white wine is exciting in 2014. Whilst the quality of recent vintages has been high here, 2014 looks excellent. Once again there is a salty, saline touch to the wines, which, by and large, display refreshing and moreish acidity but there are plenty of ripe, pretty fruit flavours to be found in the wines too. Overall they will give much enjoyment. These are stylish, impressive white wines with verve and character. If you are a fan of top class white Bordeaux then they are usually worth buying en primeur as, unless you plan a trip to Bordeaux, they are produced in small quantities and can be hard to find.