Pessac Leognan and Graves 2013 En Primeur

UGC Pessac Leognan


Tasted at Pique Caillou, blind.


AT A GLANCE: The whites performed more strongly than the reds, as expected.



Chateau Ferrande AOC Graves 2013

Attractive firm colour, ripe plum, medium extraction, soft tannins, oak-influenced nose is attractive after opening up in the glass, but this does have a little harsh green on the palate, not one where the length has been sufficiently fleshed out. Extraction not as smart as in some. This is a little underwhelming. 83. Recommended. Drink 2017-2026.


Chateau Rahoul AOC Graves 2013

Evident oak, rich round fruit flavours cradled by vanilla bean, a little more successful on nose than palate, this is still a little short, fruit not entirely fleshed out, but they have still gone a good, competent job with the winemaking here, not pushed too hard in the extraction, have teased out pretty floral character. 86. Recommended. Drink 2018-2028.


Chateau Chantegive AOC Graves 2013

Under-ripe character on the nose. Again they are not pushing it by over extracting, but even with a soft touch, there is just not enough good raw materials to elevate this wine. Will offer some early drinking pleasure, and should fatten up over the ageing, as there is a pretty texture to the fruit and some sweet oak aromatics. The nose opens up and widens in the glass, but still fruit spectrum is on the redcurrant-greengage just-ripe guage. 83-84. Recommended. Drink 2017-2026


Chateau Carmes Haut-Brion AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

This is a very rich deep colour, and the texture visually is thick and silky, suggests high alcohol. Good nose, some heat, with ripe fruits and subtle but still evident oak influence. This has ambition in its structure certainly, and has been assembled with care. There are ripe fruits here, but for me just a touch of sourness in the finish, think they may have overdone extraction by a bar or two, get some slightly off flavours in the close of play. But have to look for them - this is a good job from the winemaking team, rich, layered, powerful with food astringency in the tannins that should soften over ageing. 88-89. Recommended. Drink 2019-2030.


Chateau Carbonnieux AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Expressive, cheerful sandalwood and red cherry fruit on the nose, a medium cherry colour, not as dark as some in this lineup. This is a very pretty wine, floral, good minerality, lovely level of extraction, medium drinking but with great pleasure. An excellent example of working with the vintage, not trying too hard, not being over ambitious. Acidity perhaps renders the fruit a touch sour, but I like the lift, a good 2013. Harvest for the merlot became on September 30 and ended on 7th October, and the cabernets from 7 to 15th October. They have a new vineyard manager here, Charles Knight Lafite, who was formerly the head of vineyards at Chateau Rieussec working under Charles Chevallier (this year, it was probably particularly useful to understand about grape bunches reaching maturity at different moments!). 89-90 Recommended to Highly Recommended. Drink 2019-2033.


Chateau Bouscaut AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Medium extraction ruby colour, hints of purple. Strong percolated coffee aromas on the nose, definitely gone for the empreumatic toasting of the oak. Attractive and modern, sophisticated but does mask the fruit. On the palate there is a delicacy to the fruit, creme caramel as again the oak dominates, but it is done with delicacy and a deft touch. A interesting wine, but needs a little more fruit to be fully in balance. Still, plenty to enjoy, and again a pretty medium term drinker. 86-88. Recommended. Drink 2019-2030.


Chateau Pique Caillou AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Sour cherry on the nose, not as precise as some. This has touches of bitterness coming through in the mid palate, the fruit flavours lack a little definition, although it does have some attractive black cherry and soft oak dusting. Blend is 38% merlot, 62% cabernet sauvignon. 84-86. Recommended. Drink 2018-2026.


Chateau La Louviere AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Deep ruby colour, medium to fuller intensity. Cloves and smoky bacon on the nose, but quite subtle, some graphite pencil lead alongside suggesting terroir not just oak. Good firm dark fruits, more black cherry and damson than summer fruits, so may have managed to get further along the ripening cycle. Some interesting firm hold of tannin and acidity. But still lacks that vibrancy and lift to take it to the truly enjoyable. But good potential here. Good chewy tannims. 89-90. Recommended to Highly Recommended. Drink 2019-2030.


Chateau Latour Martillac AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Subtle nose, some complexity and deftness here, and good medium to full extraction on colour alone, heading to deep ruby. Firm extraction, just holding back before it gets too much. There are strands of slightly tart fruits, but like the overall lift and definition, can feel the construction and the ambition at play, feels intellectual and considered. Opens up quite nicely in the glass, imagine alcohol a touch higher here than some. Feels more like a primeur sample than many this year, with more development to come. 88-90. Recommended to Highly Recommended. Drink 2019-2030.


Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Enjoyable layered nose, liquorice and pencil lead, a touch hot perhaps but a successful opener overall. But this has good extraction on the attack, juicy firm black flesh, coffee, eugenol, feel oak comes in strongly in the mid palate, suggesting the fruit needed a little boost at this point. This is well constructed, and opens up well in the glass. 89-91. Recommended to Highly Recommended. Drink 2019-2032. 


Chateau Pape Clement AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Clear sweet oak influence, caramel and mocha flavours as opposed to dark coffee and cloves. On the palate a good rush of fruit and acidity, with a tannic hold catching behind. A good primeur sample, with development and life ahead of it, pushing the vintage a little more than many seem to have dared. Cedarwood and damson plums, some elegance and weight. I remember liking Pape Clement in 2011 as well – for me it’s an estate that does well in times when nature forces the winemakers to take their foot off the pedal. 91-92. Highly Recommended. Drink 2019-2030.


Chateau Olivier AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Here we go with the empreumatic percolating coffee. Interesting how clear the different oak approaches are this year, toasting levels and origin are going to make a big difference over the course of the ageing. Touch hot, but aroma is fairly ripe. On the initial attack, things gets a little over extracted, but calm down mid palate and through to close of play. Interesting, ambitious, potential, a little overshoots the vintage. 87-89. Recommended. Drink 2019-2030. 


Chateau Malartic Lagraviere AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Good deep rich colour, with high extraction on the nose, plum purée, some black spices. This is heading to over extracted, feel they are really kicking against the pricks of this vintage, to quote Nick Caves and the Bad Seeds (and the King James Bible before them). Jean-Jacques Bonnie says that brought in their last cabernets here on October 22, so very late for the vintage, explaining for me why there is such matiere here compared to some others in the line-up. Severe selection also, with just 40% going into the first wine, from an already small 26 hectoltires per hectare yield. It is good and ambitious, definite potential. 88-89. Recommended.  Drink 2019-2030.


Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Interesting nose, this is pretty and floral, different to many here, but a little sweet, overly ripe roses, fleurs fannés as they would say at the DUAD. Sweetness suggests ripeness, although my guess is this is clever use of oak and chaptilisation. Pleasure certainly, but a triumph of nurture over nature. 86-87. Recommended. Drink 2019-2030.


Chateau Haut Bergey AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Toasted almonds, pinenuts, pleasant oak nose, a little short on the finish, this has a real hole in the mid palate. Good tannins on either side, they have certainly done their best here, just fruit too light. I like the oak flavours though, they are lightweight, dinner party canapés, light and smart, and nearly get away with their conjuring trick. 86-87. Recommended. Drink 2018-2030. 


Chateau Haut-Bailly AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Plenty of impact right from the first nose, this is well extracted with medium intensity ruby in colour, with a slightly sweet cherry and cedarwood nose, fairly classic for the appellation and not pushing too hard against the vintage. There is good freshness on the attack, with the tannic structure silky and soft, coming in at the mid-palate to cradle the fruit. Moutwatering, with appealing astringency suggesting the wine will develop and fatten over ageing. A serious wine, with great potential. 89-91. Recommended to Highly Recommended. Drink 2020-2036.  


Chateau de France AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Finessed nose, feel in hands of experts. Lovely colour, ripe and rich plum/ruby. Like this, it has a softness, a dying fall, but it has elegance also, a Miss Haversham but with lots of charm, not fighting the vintage. Perhaps a little short, this is definitely a medium drnker. 85-87. Recommended. Drink 2018-2030.


Chateau Fieuzal AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Clean, rich nose, understated but good frut on the nose. Slight candyfloss sweetness, and on the palate this loses its charm. Started really well, doesn't follow through. Has the ingrdients of acidity, tannic strucutre... Not enough fruit. Picking from October 4th to 22nd. Cellar renovated here in 2011. 84-86. Recommended. Drink 2019-2030. 


Domaine de Chevalier AOC Pessac-Léognan 2013

Firm, rich, deep extraction, this is rich in colour, high extraction, silky rich and round texture, seems clear alcohol. Interest. Damson, dark black cherry. Definite ambition, broad brush strokes of success. Juicy, tannic hold, big, pact, there will be fans of this wine. Picking dates October 1st to 5th merlot, October 9-18th cabernet sauvignon. Optical sorting. Olivier Bernard told me that they added an average of 0.2% alcohol through chaptilisation across all tanks – so none in some, and a little higher in others, and used a very small amount of concentrator machines to further adjust alcohol levels. ‘It was like a tightrope; everything had to be done so carefully’. Bernard said he couldn’t remember the last time he chaptilised. ‘Possibly in the 1980s.’ 89-90. Highly Recommended. Drink 2019-2030.



Ideally, a Pessac Leognoan white needs varietal signature, some structure and ageing ability, plus a sense of exuberance and fun. I found some great examples this year. But some misses also.



Chateau Venus AOC Graves 2013

Like this nose, warm damson fruit, oak is a bit too intrusive, this squeezes to the finish, sample may be a little tird (four days after delivery to my house), but can see there is charm and potential. 85. Recommended. Drink 2018-2026 


Chateau Venus AOC Graves Blanc 2013

Highly aromatic nose, on the palate this is a little flat. However, clean stone fruit flavours come through. 86-87. Recommended. Drink 2016-2016.


Clos Floridene AOC Bordeaux 2013

Textbook nose of sauvignon, real clear cut grass, not quite as far as grapefruit but a very enjoyable, bright and zingy wine. Lots of pleasure. 89-90. Recommended to Highly Recommended. drink 2015-2023.


Chateau Ferrande AOC Graves Blanc 2013

Sweet, touch of candyfloss, not final fining or filtration done yet as still a touch cloudy. This has sweet ripe grapefruit and pear flavours, not as poised as some whites are this year. 84. Recommended. Drink 2015-2023.


Chateau Rahoul AOC Graves Blanc 2013

Rich round colour, interesting nose, very much about lees stirring I would imagine, floral, plenty of personality. Successful , bursting with flavour, straw and hay, sauvignon lead but with semillon fattening. 88. Recommended. Drink 2015-2026.


Chateau Chantegive AOC Graves Blanc 2013

Crisp, clean, a little short, more cut grass than round ripe lemon curd, acidity a little high just sours things on the finish, but this has plenty of fresh appeal. 85. Recommended. Drink 2015-2024.


Chateau Carbonnieux AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Floral, white blossom, clean, not overly bursting out of the glass, but enjoyable. And on the palate also, this is the definition of juicy fruit, it is practically flowing out of your mouth, an abundance of lemons, limes, lifted up by white blossoms. Very enjoyable. 90-91. Highly recommended.. Drink 2015-2026.


Chateau Bouscaut AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Slightly more subdued and sophisticated on the nose, get more semillon, more oak influence, more restrained overall. Not as enjoyable right now, but more structure, this should unfurl and age, and it does still have minerality. Will benefit from a little ageing 91+. Highly recommended. Drink 2016-2026.


Chateau Pique Caillou AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Clean, crisp fruit on the nose, a little less attractive on the palate, this heads to squeezed fruit on the attack, takes time to get going. But there is some good juiciness and structure through the mid-palate. Good ageing potential. 60% sauvignon, 40% semillon, Dubourdieu-Levigne team of oenologists, no new oak. Guntz gravel soils. Early maturing. 89. Recommended. Drink 2015-2024.


Chateau La Louviere AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Rich, good varietal characteristics on the nose. Love the acidity on this. A good wine, firm insisting citrus fruits, good acidity, some structure and hold, lacks perhaps the pure exuberance of the best Pessacs whites this year, but impressive. Icing sugar sweetness on finish. 90-91. Highly recommended. Drink 2016-2026.


Chateau Latour Martilac AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Crisp, clean varietal nose, a little tart, a little gooseberry, ph clarly low on this, get some real new zealand expression of sauvignon, but without the plush finish. Delicate. 88-89. Recommended. Drink 2015-2024.


Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Good rich roundess, some lees stirring here I imagine, with some clear oak influence. Touches of vanilla, and clear ripe fruit influence in terms of apricots and stone fruit flavours. There is alcohol here, but balanced by ambitious, laser-like focus beam of acidity. A really ambitious white wine. 92-93. Highly recommended. Drink 2017-2028.


Chateau Pape Clement AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

A more relaxed, floral, happy exuberant expression of Pessac Leognan white. Tiny bit subdued when you get to the palate, possibly restrained by high alcohol. White blossoms though, nice floral expression. 89. Recommended. Drink 2016-2024.


Chateau Olivier AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Here there is sauvignon blanc definition and varietal characteristics immediately apparent on the nose. This delivers on typicity on palate also. Delivers also on juiciness, grip, acidity, perhaps half a whisker too high, but this is a lovely wine, full of character and highly appealing. 92-94. Highly recommended. Drink 2018-2032.


Chateau Malartic Lagraviere AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Richer, rounder spectrum of flavours, we have some confectionary flavours on the nose, but they translate into a rich, gourmet expression of the vintage on the palate. Citrus flavours have great clarity, and this should age very well, deepening in complexity. 90. Highly Recommended. Drink 2015-2026.


Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Pure varietal sauvignon nose, but clean rather than over the top. On the palate, feels placed rather than naturally evolved, has the juiciness and the structure of an expertly made wine. 89. Recommended. Drink 2016-2026.


Chateau Haut Bergey AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Bright, whoosh of varietal character here. Tart, bright, some lovely coming together on the finsih. This is good, very characterful. Juicy, well structured. Not as sophisticated as some, but thoroughly drinkable, enjoyable stuff from owner Helene Leveque and consultant Alain Raynaud. 89. Recommended. Drink 2015-2024.


Chateau de France AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Pleasant, more straw and hay than grapefruit so assume high semillon. Very good, clean flavours, not trying too hard, savoury, good grip, should age nicely, really a confident wine. Perhaps a touch of dip on final furlong. 90-91. Highly recommended. Drink 2016-2026.


Chateau Fieuzal AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Rich and round colour. Less successful on the attack though, as it majors more on tart flavours than lilting acidity. There is some attractive honeysuckle on the finish. 85. Recommended. Drink 2016-2024.


Domaine de Chevalier AOC Pessac-Léognan Blanc 2013

Lovely nose, combination of sweet citrus and clean minerality. Good deft shot of acidity, great zing of minerality, very good indeed. The blend here is 80% sauvignon blanc, 20% semillon. 92-93. Highly recommended. Drink 2016-2028.