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.
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Pape Clément’
Great white wines have been produced by Chateau Pape Clément and Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte in 2012. Full and sumptuous they have lots of weight and style. Their reds look good too. Pape Clément in particular is an extremely lush offering and benefits from a larger percentage of Merlot [65%] this year, which usually sits 50:50 with the Cabernet. Huge effort was put in at Smith Haut Lafitte during the red wine harvest to mitigate the weather. Amongst other things they doubled their pickers to 200. They have been rewarded with very good wine that has plenty of fruit if slightly firm tannins. Chateau Haul-Bailly is a chewy number at present. I’d expect this to settle as there is plenty of material and extract but it always looks a bit backward early on.
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.