Wine Words & Video Tape

Wine, Words and Videotape

Fine Wine Review site

Bordeaux 2015: Pessac-Léognan Red

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0997It 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.

As elsewhere flowering took place in ideal conditions. Hot and dry weather continued into the summer. There would have been some vine stress on the more well drained gravelly soils, but the wetter August helped spur on veraison and grape ripening. A dry September with cool nights means that there was generally no pressure on picking and plots could be harvested at optimum ripeness as and when. This is the most exciting vintage in the district since the terrific 2010 vintage here.

The following wines were tasted mostly at the UGCB tasting on 7th April at Château Malartic Lagravière, with additional tastings noted elsewhere.

Château Bouscaut, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Deep colour; little reductive initially; stalky; blackcurrants; cherry and sweet fruits; ripe cassis note too; blackcurrants on the palate; soft style. Will be ab attractive red. [56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 6% Malbec]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2020-2032. 90-92+

Château Carbonnieux, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Deep and attractive colour; tight to rim; ripe, creamy aromas of black cherry with dark chocolate notes; palated textured and pretty dense; plenty of matter here; fresh acids at the end and some tannin; should settle well. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16.  Drink 2019-2028. 87-89+

Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Deep and saturated colour; ripe and lifted aromatics; some cassis and blackcurrant jam notes; layered and forward; sweet fruit on the palate; ripe; plenty of material and texture here; some jam too [but in an attractive way]; little chewy on the finish but should settle well after ageing. [44% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 80% new oak, 14% alc, pH 3.7]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2020-2028. 90-91+

La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Deep colour; vibrant purple at the meniscus; tight and stern to start with; opens up with some spicy and somewhat savoury blackcurrant characters; opens up in the glass; grip on the palate; lots of sinew; lacks a bit of flesh currently but will infill I’m sure; little stern at present. [45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cab Franc, 14.6%]. Tasted Haut-Brion 7/4/16. Drink 2022-2028. 89-91+

Le Clarence de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Deep looking; earthy purple at edge; blackcurrant and black cherry; little reticent [it was tasted at 8am]; freshness somehow; little stern on the entry again; texture and depth; not as fleshy as I’d have expected; correct if rather so. Good length here and some freshness. The wines are sleepy this morning. [57% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc, 14.6%]. Tasted Haut-Brion 7/4/16. Drink 2022-2028. 90-91+

Clos Marsalette, Pessac-Léognan

Nice colour – healthy looking; purple at edge; nice leaf; earth and blackcurrant tones; round; sweet entry; attractive and soft; easy on the palate; harmonious and round; some elegance but also gloss. Attractive. Tasted 6/4/16 Canon-la-Gaffelière. Drink 2019-2025. 89-91+

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

Mid depth; some wet rocks; ripe fruit; spices; solid effort; nice creamy tones to the fruit; pretty gutsy on the palate; lots of matter here; grip on the finish. Will impress more after elévage. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2022-2032. 91-93+

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

Mid depth; earthy purple at edge; ripe red fruits; softness; emphasis on the pretty fruit; pure palate; very nicely done; delicacy and well managed extraction; very fine de Fieuzal red. [75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2022-2030. 91-93+

Château de France, Pessac-Léognan

Mid depth; earthy purple; solid; spices and some dust; black fruits beneath; soft palate; fresh finish. Compact. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2019-2025. 86-88

Château Haut-Bailly, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Deep and glossy; colour tight to the rim; purple at edge; very pure Cabernet nose; clean; precise; some minerals; spices at the edge; very deep indeed; lovely wine; purity; texture but plenty of flesh here too; really excellent; open for HB at this stage; lots of elements; beautiful Cabernet and structured Merlot; outstanding quality; flesh here but considerable structure beneath; finishes correct with nice acid twist. Grip and structure at the end. Long. All adds up to a tremendous effort from Haut-Bailly. [Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Merlot 36%, Petit Verdot 4%, 50% new oak, 13.6% alc]. Tasted Haut-Bailly 7/4/16. Drink 2023-2040. 96-98+

Château Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Léognan

Deep and saturated colour; ripe and rich aromatics; some savour; briary fruit beneath; quite extracted palate; needs to settle; plenty of guts and matter; tannic finish. Chewy. Promising elements but jumbled at primeurs. [45% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2022-2030. 89-91

Château Haut-Brion, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pessac-Léognan

Bold colour; dark at centre; lovely cassis beauty on the nose; real depth and succulence; nice balance between the plummy purity and the influence of the Cabernets; seductive on the nose – quite gorgeous actually; great texture to the palate; greater mid palate richness here than displaying on La Mission; some restraint but lots of power and weight; quite masculine overall; sinew and flesh too but this is quite bold; length here very good. Definition. Needs 10 years – no flashy 2015 this – but stunning texture. [50% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 14.9% alc]. Tasted Haut-Brion 7/4/16. Drink 2025-2045. 97-100

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Deep colour; ripe cassis notes; unctuously styled aromatics; coffee and mocha notes too; quite chewy palate which needs to settle but there is plenty of style and promise here. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 13.8% alc]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2022-2030. 90-92+

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

Deep and saturated look; pretty briary, brambly fruit; nice style; cherry and chocolate notes; ripe fruit on the mid-palate; quite grippy on the finish with some extracted elements; this has the fruit though. [54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot 13.9%alc]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2020-2028. 89-91

Château La Louvière, Pessac-Léognan

Mid depth; lively colour at edge; composed black creamy fruits; smoke; very mannered and attractive; very Bordeaux; like this; good to drink and very nicely balance. Great effort. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 14% alc, 50% new oak]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2019-2028. 90-92

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

Saturated looking; purple at edge; very glossy and ripe aromatics; lift; some cassis and jam; soft entry to the palate; cassis notes again; plenty of rich and ripe fruit; nice grip and texture. This is a great effort. [53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc 13.8% alc, TA 3.5]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2020-2030. 92-94+

Château Olivier, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Deep at core; saturated look; purple edge; earth, chocolate, black cherry; stalky blackcurrant notes too; palate clean and pure with freshness and sap; quite nicely done in a fresher style. Tannic twist at the end. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 14% alc]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2020-2028. 88-90+

Château Le Pape, Pessac-Léognan

Deep colour; quite saturated; purple at edge; deep and ripe; some earth; some mineral notes; pretty and perfumed; lots of texture; plenty of extract and matter but soft and harmonious tannins; some chew; elegance; harmonious wine. Nice finish. This is the third vintage of Le Pape produced by the new owners following a new replanting regime better suited to the soils with increased vine density. [75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5ha]. Tasted Haut-Bailly 7/4/16. Drink 2020-2028. 89-91+

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

Deep and saturated look; ripe fruit; some earth; lifted and attractive; glossy but real substance; caressing palate; nicely done; black cherry; some oak but wonderful ripe fruit and tannin. Plenty of extract and density. [56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 14.5% alc]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2020-2032. 94-96+

La Parde Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan

Deep colour; purple edge; deep wine; chocolate and some earth; strong; cooler; structured wine; strict; fresh acidity; grip on the finish; good stuff. [60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. 13.6%]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89+

Le Petit Haut Lafitte, Rouge, Pessac-Léognan

Mid depth; little deeper; more solidity to the aroma; nice ripe fruit; clean; structured and a fair bit of ‘matter’; nice harmony on the mid palate; fresh too; soft for this age. Good finish. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 20% new oak, 13% alc]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2020-2024. 89-91+

Château Picque Caillou, Pessac-Léognan

Deepish; nice attractive fruit; purity here; no jam; thoughtful and fresh; nice palate; elegant but with depth; balanced; good density on the finish. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 40% new oak]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2020-2028. 89-91+

Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Deep saturated colour; depth on the nose; black fruits but not over-played; some sweetness to the fruit; mannered; cherry and ripe plums; wood a bit present in terms of a slight dryness; will obviously fill out; I always fine La Mission the drier and more obviously tannic of the two siblings at this stage; chew on the finish and some warmth. Density. Lots of extract and texture. Minerality. [58% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 15.1%]. Tasted Haut-Brion 7/4/16. Drink 2025-2045. 94-96+

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

Lovely colour; deep at centre; healthy looking; seductive aromas – oodles of ripe fruit; cassis; some chocolate notes; supple entry; wonderful fruit tones – real beauty here this year; surprisingly supple wine. Between 09/10 the estate believe. Lovely stuff for me. Opulent. Gorgeous. [63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc 2% Petit Verdot, 65% new oak]. Tasted Smith Haut Lafitte. Drink 2019-2035.  7/4/16. 96-97+

Château Le Thil, Pessac-Léognan

Mid depth; lovely bright fruit; ripe and forward on the nose; like this; pure fruit – very supple on the palate; elegance and delicacy – not over concentrated and fresh on the end. Round and harmonious. Spices on the finish. [100% Merlot]. Tasted Smith Haut Lafitte. 7/4/16. Drink 2019-2025. 90-91+


Château de Chantegrive, Graves

Mid depth; earthy edge; ripe aromas; black cherry; earth and chocolate; nice texture on the palate; some acidity and grip on the finish; good effort. [50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2019-2024. 86-88+

Château Ferrande, Graves

Deep and saturated looking; chocolate and ripe fruit notes; spicy palate with fair degree of chew; has texture and grip; will settle fine. Earthy note. [51% Merlot, 49% Cabernet Sauvignon]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2019-2024. 85-87

Château Rahoul, Graves

Deep and saturated purple; dark centre; ripe and attractive; creamy entry with good grip; nice Merlot; wet earth and mocha notes; good effort this. Should be a good buy. [62% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot, 13% alc]. Tasted UGCB 7/4/16. Drink 2019-2025. 87-89+


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Follow Us