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Bordeaux 2019: Pessac-Léognan

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

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.

So far I’ve only tasted a small sample of the wines in Pessac-Léognan, and still have to taste important properties such as Domaine de Chevalier, Château Haut-Bailly, Château Malartic Lagravière, Château Olivier, Château Carbonnieux, Château Bouscaut and Château La Louvière, not to mention Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion too. Hopefully I will get to taste more of these wines in the autumn, COVID-19 permitting.

That all being said, evidently many wines in Pessac-Léognan have achieved significant levels of ripeness and alcohol in this vintage. Many are darkly coloured and richly fruited. The tannins are generally supple, though in some cases there is a little chew to them.  Merlot was most likely was picked before the important late September rain which really significantly helped the Cabernet’s final phenolic ripening. Extraction needed to be carefully handled in the cellar with high potential alcohols and lots of anthocyanins.

For the whites, the main issue was retaining acidity in the dry and hot weather. Quite a few white wines from Pessac-Léognan feel substantial and generous. In some senses it is quite a ‘big’ white wine vintage. This, at times, can be at the expense of aromatic complexity and freshness. This vintage could not be confused with 2007, 2013 or 2017 here. It is much more in the mold of 2016 and even 2010 – strong and substantial whites which will provide pleasure early and into the medium term. The top whites I’ve had [like Pape Clément below] are outstanding, and I’d like to taste more soon.

The following notes were taken on samples sent to London in June. As I’ve said, I’ll update on more wines from this district in 2019 in the autumn.


Clémentin de Pape Clément, Pessac- Léognan, 2019

Deeper; colour tighter to rim; legs; deep at centre; black cherry and red fruits on the nose; some smoke; savoury note; black cherry again; some dark chocolate; salty and mineral entry; quite savoury again on the palate; structured red; has texture and fleshy sweet fruit; quite complete; blackcurrants; some tar and earth; texture; not dry or extracted; quite polished tannins. Gutsy chocolately finish. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2032. 90-92+

Château de Cruzeau, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Deep and healthy looking; lovely fresh creamy Bordeaux fruit; joyful; enticing; nicely judged; ripe Merlot but also pure Cab shines through; impressive; stalky and fresh; but also creamy; fresh entry; lovely fruit; Cabernet is singing here; very ripe and smooth; polished; some chocolate on the soft finish; this is a very good effort from de Cruzeau. Some oak on the finish. Nicely done! [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2029. 88-90+

Château Haut-Bacalan, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Deeply coloured; dark centre; tight to edge; purple red; concentrated aromatics; black cherry; dark chocolate notes; polished if a bit tight on the nose initially; needs to unfurl; black cherry fruit on the palate; quite full; generous; plenty of inky fruit; texture on the finish. Good intensity and concentration. [Vineyard 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 14% alc]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2024-2032. 89-91

Château Haut-Lagrange, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Deeper than de Cruzeau; colour tight to rim; mineral; slightly salty tang; some oak too; black cherry; nice, ripe fruit; good entry; has poise and polish; works well; lots of creamy black fruits; oak needs to integrate; slightly mineral note again; lots of extract; ambitious palate and has a lot to it. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 14% alc]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2024-2032.  89-91

Clos Marsalette, Pessac Léognan, 2019

Deep and opaque; red black at edge; colour tight to edge; legs; lovely deep and ripe earthy blackcurrant aromatics; enticing; some black cherry and mocha tones too; fruit is lush and lovely; some black chocolates; lovely sweet entry to the fruit; blackcurrants; damp earth; dark chocolate notes; extract and tannin; ripe; little gutsy on the finish. Some grip. Of the vintage and the terroir. Good stuff. [50% Merlot, 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc, 54 hl/ha, harvest 20 Set – 5 Oct, cuvaison 28 days and 35% new oak]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2033. 90-92+

Château Pape Clément, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Dark; purple red at edge; legs; lovely creamy blackcurrant aromatics; cassis and black plums; seductive and layered; menthol notes too; but also freshness here; lush and opens up wonderfully; really full on the nose; sweet caressing entry; still fresh and pure; palate has lots of extract and is rich with melted velvety tannins; lots of extract and matter here; really full finish and great length. Will work nicely. Beautiful Pape Clément. [Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Merlot 50%]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2025-2040. 96-97+

Le Petit Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Deep colour; lovely plush aromatics; black fruits but real freshness; summer fruit compote; a delight; brimming with fruit; sweet entry; this is lovely – such a joy now – plush fruit on the palate; has depth but the emphasis is on the joy – delicious. Excellent effort. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 36 hl/ha, 20% new oak]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2032. 93-94+

Château de Rochemorin, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Deep; red purple at edge; ripe briary fruit; plums and black cherry beneath; crunchy with good mid palate; bright; has some grip; good Bordeaux which has grip and texture. Oak on the finish. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 13% alc]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2030. 87-89+

Château de Rouillac, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Mid depth; earthy red purple at edge; sweet ripe fruit; soft; opens up; attractive Pessac-Léognan; earthy blackcurrants; some black cherry; depth; earthy black fruits; soft entry; ripe; some texture here; has sap; easy; a little compact perhaps but plenty of earthy blackcurrant fruit on the finish. Soft tannins on the end. [Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot 13.5% alc]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2030. 87-88

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Super colour; really vibrant; deeper; more cassis and blackcurrant intensity; that earthy aspect but still totally pure. Layer upon layer of fruit here; terrific on the nose; seductive; bags of fruit on the palate too; real extract; terrific stuff. Real depth and chew. Loads of matter – pretty serious, yet somehow also plush: blackcurrant and plum tones dominate on the palate. Great length. Super wine. [40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 60% new oak, 36 hl/ha]. Tasted June 2020. 97-98+


Clémentin de Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Super silver; flecks of green; oyster shell; saline notes; some white flowers; salty tang to the nose; more saline; nice and round on the palate; has length; nice salty tang on the finish too. Good and positive. Like this a lot. [90% Savignon Blanc, 10% Sémillon]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2028. 91-93+

Château de Cruzeau, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Vital silver gold; cashew; melon; some citrus zest – appetizing; some candy too; full bodied and spicy on the palate; with candy; full and attractive white wine; combines zap with body; spicy finish. Good effort. [100% Sauvignon Blanc, 12.5% alc]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2022-2028. 88-90

Château Haut-Lagrange, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Straw; more gold than silver; quite broad and full; wax; some white peach; smoky hint; broad palate; has texture and mouthfeel; waxy; will work with food more; had good texture and length too; like this; more oxidative white style but attractive. [50% Sémillon, 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 12.5%]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2028. 87-89+

Clos Marsalette, Pessac-Leognan, 2019

Palest straw; waxy at first; quite full; some citrus notes behind; like this; whiff of lychee; attractive; little white candy; full on the nose; pear drops and candy; attractive and full palate; broad flavours; good race on the finish with some tang. Presumably large chunk of Sémillon here? [Yes]. [53% Sauvignon Blanc, 47% Sémillon, 56 hl/ha, 30% new oak, harvested between 12-14 September]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2028. 90-92+

Château Pape Clément, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Pale straw; silver; fuller aromatically; fresh white melon; little wax; full but also; has some zap and energy on the palate; not the most aromatically interesting but has power and some weight; good finish; has length on the end and zap. Actually pretty saline on the finish. Length. Has freshness in 2019. Super wine. [Sauvignon Blanc 46%, Sémillon 40%, Sauvignon Gris 14%]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2022-2032. 94-96+

Le Petit Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Silver straw; white peaches and melon; some wax; lovely and clean; mineral tones to; really attractive; lovely tautness on the palate; nicely balanced with some race but also weight. Feels textured and with good concentration on the end. Moreish white! [80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon, 50% new oak, 32 hl/ha]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2028. 91-93+

Château de Rochemorin, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Pale straw; spicy aromatics; Chinese sweet and sour notes; some lanolin; grapefruit and citrus; nice entry; candy; has zap; lacks some body and dips a fraction towards the end; works well though. [100% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% alc]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2022-2026. 87-88

Château de Rouillac, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Pale silver; attractive and vital looking; some grass and summer meadow; salty tang too; feels mineral; fresh palate; good acidity; high by comparison; elegant, zesty and fresh. Moreish on the end as the acidity is retained and there is a good twist at the end. [Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, 13.5% alc]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2022-2028. 87-88

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, 2019

Silver straw, brilliant in the glass; little tight to start with; some white melon and floral hints; little apricot; really super composed; full entry; feels substantial on the palate; lovely white this; spot on; has great texture on the palate; real intensity and wonderful length. Saline finish. Super length and breadth on the palate. [100% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 50% new oak, 32 hl/ha]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2024-2032. 96-97+

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