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 ‘Le Clarence de Haut-Brion’
Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion were extolling the virtues of their Merlot in 2012 shortly after the harvest. There is no doubt that the sixty-odd percent that this variety constitutes in these blends this year reflects the quality of that fruit and its overall superiority to the Cabernets. This high percentage of Merlot gives both wines a wonderfully plush, seductive quality, and, in their different ways, Haut-Brion and La Mission display the very best qualities of this vintage. Nevertheless there is density here too, especially in Haut-Brion. For me it is probably the pick of the first growths this year with Mouton and Margaux close behind.
In 2011 Pessac-Léognan is a game of two halves. The whites are very attractive, the reds completely irregular. In tricky wet vintages, Pessac-Léognan, with generally well drained gravelly soils, succeeds. Look at 2007 when the region produced some good wines compared with other districts. Drought vintages seem to be more hazardous here and 2011 is in reality a vintage of considerable drought and with other fluctuation for good measure too.
I tasted the Domaine Clarence Dillon wines last Monday at Chateau Haut-Brion without knowing their vital statistics. Nevertheless I did spot some warmth on Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, but it didn’t worry me particularly. If I hadn’t been sitting down I would have fallen over when I was told at the end that it was over 15 degrees. I’m glad I didn’t know that before because, other than the warmth, La Mission looks really good. Nearly everywhere I went during the rest of the week everyone was saying, ‘Oh but what about La Mission? Fifteen degrees – too much surely?’ Well on paper and maybe if you’ve got a bottle to yourself [though I think I could manage one alone] but I had to say that I didn’t notice La Mission was too alcoholic when I tasted it. That’s the problem with statistics, you don’t judge a wine looking at charts. Nor do you judge a feature film by its running time. If it’s engaging enough even two and a half hours flies by. Acidity is the narrative drama of a wine and it’s what is making 2010 such an interesting vintage. It is yielding wines that defy your expectations. You taste La Mission at fifteen degrees and it works.