Pessac Léognan Bordeaux
This appellation is a very old wine region although it is the most recent among the Bordeaux appellations. Indeed, its creation dates only around 1987. It is also the only appellation to have a castle listed in the classification of 1855: Château Haut Brion having the status of premier cru. In this guide, we will review the main characteristics of its terroir as well as the best producers in this Bordeaux Pessac Léognan appellation.
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the Pessac Léognan's terroir
Pessac Leognan covers about 1700 ha of vineyards in a dozen communes including Cadaujac, Gradignan, Canéjan, Martillac, Léognan, Mérignac, Pessac, Talence, Saint-Médard-d'Eyrans and Villeneuve d'Ornon. It includes 75 castles and wineries. Although it is a young appellation, it has its roots in the Middle Ages as it is considered the region where the ancient Romans first cultivated their vines. In the 18th century, it also became the cradle of the "New French claret" at Château Haut Brion, classified 1st Grand Cru in the 1855 classification. No producer is also vying for the title of leader of the 16 Crus Classés Graves which goes to this Château Haut Brion. As a reminder, the recognition of the specific qualities of Pessac Léognan is stipulated in an official decree creating the appellation on September 9, 1855. The current production of this appellation is around 9 million bottles, 80% of which are red wines and the rest white wines. The originality of the Pessac Leognan's terroir and the climate characterize this appellation. It has a landscape with nipple relief with a network of small streams that facilitate the proper drainage of the soil. It is composed of deposits of river gravel up to 8 m deep rolled by the Garonne during the Quaternary era. The proximity of the Garonne promotes the mitigation of frosts while the forest cuts the winds. This vast potential of the terroir gives it a unique heritage among the regions producing vines. The appellation must also strictly comply with production conditions such as the blending of grape varieties, the density of vine planting and the minimum sugar content. The main grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The white wines are made from Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
Our selection of wines of Pessac Léognan
-Haut Brion : this Premier Grand Cru classified chateau is located in the southern limits of the city of Bordeaux. The terroir of the vineyards of 53.5 ha well placed on the slopes consists of a high proportion of deep gravel on clay and sand as well as minerals and quartz. This exceptional natural asset allows it to produce prestigious wines, unique in the world, with complex aromas and all the earthy and herbary notes. A style of wine all in balance appreciated by its elegance and sensuality. It is also a wine that can be drunk young and that has both an excellent ageing capacity for old vintages.
-Mission Haut Brion : the vineyard of 26 ha of this castle is perfectly located between two streams on gravel hills. The terroir is characterized by deep gravel on clay, sand and chalk. This character of the soil is conducive to the production of a rich, opulent, full-bodied and concentrated Bordeaux wine with notes of earth, spices, smoke and high tannins. This Château Classé Grand Cru Classé des Graves since 1953 is also one of the largest estates in the Pessac Léognan appellation.
-Pape Clément : the origin of this Bordeaux vineyard dates back to the year 1300 at the time when Bernard Groth, the future Pope Clément V bought it. Today, the 32 ha of vineyards of this castle produce one of the best clarets in the region. This castle is also among the restricted circle of Grands Crus Classés of Graves in the 1959 classification. The wines of this castle have lush, dynamic textures and intense and concentrated flavors. They offer the conditions of best tastings after 15 to 50 years depending on the vintage.
-Haut Bailly : the area planted with vines of 30 ha of this castle is located at the gates of Bordeaux. This Graves classified growth produces sweet polished wines , with a complex set of aromas and a mineral nose. These wines flourish on the palate with their more or less sweet tannins and their long and elegant finish. They also possess the ability to age although they can be enjoyed young.
-Carbonnieux : this 59 ha winery is a classified growth for both its red and white wines. It produces wines of a beautiful purple color with a nose combining scents of black fruit, blackcurrant, blueberries. When tasting, they are precise and delicate. Young wines are appreciated for their freshness, purity and intensity of aromas. After years of aging, they become more elegant, patinated with richer, more complex aromas.
-Fieuzal : this castle passes into the hands of 6 families during the last 4 centuries. Today, it is owned by Brenda & Lochlann Quinn. This estate operates a large vineyard of 70 ha. It is located on one of the best gently sloping gravel soils in Pessac Léognan. It received the official status of Graves Grands Cru Classé in 1959. The wines of this estate have a beautiful dark ruby color with a nose of juicy fruits, flowers, honeysuckle, smoke, espresso, vanilla accents depending on the vintage. On the palate, they offer soft and silky textures of red berries, spices, earth and a wide, fresh or fruity length. A few years of ageing make these wines better!
-Domaine de chevalier : this estate has 65 ha of vineyards that extends over gentle slopes and elevations. The gravelly soil with black sand on clay produces lush, silky, concentrated wines with luscious citrus notes and an endless final note of tobacco or red fruits.
-Smith Haut Lafitte: this château classé cru of Pessac Léognan has a vineyard of 80 ha. The wines of this estate express their terroir wonderfully. This is made of gravel that ensures natural drainage of the soil. The wines produced have a deep color with an attractive floral profile and notes of spices, tobacco, olives, grass, mandarin bark, chocolate, espresso ... depending on the vintage. At the tasting, the wines are fleshy, expansive or have a supple texture, moderately full-bodied with a beautiful precise fruity or spicy finish.
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