Château Pape Clément has produced very impressive red and white wines in 2019. This property always packs a lot of joy and appeal into its wines. The white is seductive with plenty of depth and style while the red displays fabulous creamy black fruits and has super length. I was also impressed by both versions [white and red] of Clémentin de Pape Clément this year. I’ve written separately on Smith Haut Lafitte and the super fine quality of the wines there. Amongst other wines tasted from Pessac-Léognan, amongst the reds Clos Marsalette and Château Haut Bacalan impressed. Enjoyable wines have also been made at Château Haut-Lagrange, Château de Rouillac, Château de Rochemorin and Château de Cruzeau. Amongst the whites Clos Marsalette also stood out for its finesse. There was plenty of zap and life in the white Château de Cruzeau and Château de Rochemorin, while Château Haut-Lagrange produced a white with weight and substance.
Posts Tagged ‘Pessac-Léognan’
Château Smith Haut Lafitte has once again come up with the goods in 2019. The whites are rich and full bodied and the reds have the characteristic plush quality that is a signature here. The Grand Vin red is fabulous. The fruit is super seductive and joyful and there is considerable depth to the wine. Stylistically technical director Fabien Teitgen reckons it’s three quarters 2016 combined with a quarter 2015. Certainly the 2019 has greater freshness and more acidity over the coquettish 2018 here, the result of the fractionally cooler conditions in August and September in 2019. Overall, despite these vintage differences, there is remarkable consistency here, year after year. Under the ownership of Florence and Daniel Cathiard, Smith Haut Lafitte has become one of Bordeaux’s benchmarks for brilliance and this is true again in 2019.
2017’s a funny old vintage in Bordeaux. It feels to me like this year is the least successful of the past decade, assuming we forget about the washout 2013 vintage. That’s not to say that there aren’t a number wines that are really impressive now that the 2017s are in bottle. Last October’s annual Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux tasting in London showed some excellent wines in Pomerol and St Emilion, perhaps more so than in the other communes, but there were fine wines to be found in all the appellations. That said many lacked a bit of charm, seemed somewhat austere and lacked mid-palate concentration. Yes, they are fresh. Yes, the acidity is bright and some have a decent zap about them, but, overall, it’s hardly a vintage that sets the pulse racing. The same couldn’t be said for the experience that the vignerons themselves faced in the early part of the growing season in 2017 when devastating frosts wiped out entire crops in St Emilion and Pomerol and did much damage elsewhere, notably in parts of Pessac-Léognan and the Haut-Médoc. Some properties didn’t make any wine at all. It was certainly a nerve-jangling time for growers. Looked in that light, perhaps we must actually see 2017 as something of a success.
Finally notes taken on wines tasted at the Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé tasting in London last year. While the majority of these were 2018s that I’d missed during primeurs week, it was also a good opportunity to look at other recent vintages. In Margaux, Château Rauzan Ségla had made a sublime wine in 2018, so too Château Branaire-Ducru and Château Léoville Poyferré in St Julien. In Pauillac, Château Pontet Canet was astonishing, paralleled in different ways by extraordinary wines at Château Montrose in St Estèphe and Château Smith Haut Lafitte in Pessac-Léognan.
Château Haut-Bailly has some of the most enviable terroir in Bordeaux. Unfortunately even this was insufficient to spare the property from the devasting frosts of April 27 and 28, 2017. These frosts did damage to the lower plots on the property, but the old vine parcels were spared. Subsequently even flowering and an exceptionally dry summer, saved the day. In 2017 Château Haut-Bailly has produced red wines that have depth and freshness. The vintage is a little reminiscent of 2008 and 2014 but with softer tannins and more gentle extraction.
Château Pape Clément was badly affected in volume terms by the damage wrought by the April frost in 2017. At the property, in Bordeaux’s suburbs in Pessac, production for the red was sixty percent down and fifty percent for the whites. Other properties elsewhere in Bordeaux owned by Bernard Magrez were affected even more significantly. Château La Tour Carnet in the Haut-Médoc, for example, lost 70% of production. At Pape Clément, despite the considerably reduced crop, and the knock-on effects in terms of blending options, the quality is excellent. The white is very exciting. It is full and deep but not overblown. The Pape Clément red is typically layered and lush, with lots of black fruits.