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Pessac-Leognan Notes


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Notes from a dinner event featuring the wines of Pessac-Leognan, the Bordeaux sub-region formerly part of Graves (the lesser wines were left under that commune name), prior to 1987.

We had wines with dinner, which I shall describe first, and then shared the odd glass with different tables, resulting in the chance to gain wider ranging if somewhat sketchier notes on many more wines. Those notes will be added below the dinner notes.

Taittinger NV Champagne – pleasant nose, good mousse, a bit simple but clean on palate.

with lamb croquette, wild salmon tartare and smoked duck breast canapés

2000 Carbonnieux – a white for the seafood course. Nice fat rich lemon and honey nose, but only medium body and modest length.

with scallop and wilted arugula salad

1988 Haut Bailly – dark wine with an excellent fruit driven nose, mature, up front soft tannins that seemed to fade after 10 minutes, and a long juicy finish. Fruit on palate was good but not lavish.

1988 Pape Clement – excellent penetrating nose of fruit and earth,, similar wine that improved with time in glass and more acidity at the end than the Haut Bailly.

1995 Cruzeau – served as a mystery wine, blind, this showed ripe fruit and some spice in the nose, compact on palate, ending with good acidity. Well priced Bordeaux that routinely outperforms its price.

with duck confit, morels, Madeira sauce and truffle flan.

1995 Haut Bailly – I was delighted to find that I had some of this in the cellar! Sweet fruit and berries in the nose, and vanilla, lots of fairly soft tannins, a lovely smooth tasty wine with time ahead of it.

1989 de Fieuzal – not as impressed with this one. Slightly funky nose, and the fruit on palate seemed a bit low, the wine riding on acidity at the end. It also exhibited a slight vegetal note that was off-putting. If you have it, drink up.

with wild boar stuffed with foie gras

1998 Haut Bailly – big sweet rich fruit, sweet on palate, but also soft, not a wine for the long haul.

1998 Smith Haut Lafite – dark, and with another vegetal nose that blew off a bit, some up front fresh acidity on palate, tannins soft, good fruit, a forward elegant wine marred only by the lingering nose problem.

with cheeses

Now the other wines I had a chance to taste:

1975 Dom. de Chevalier – I thought of bringing a 1981 but figured that this wine is usually elegant and doesn’t benefit from being put up against brawnier competition. The 1975 is certainly the exception to this. It was showing a flowery nose, the remaining tannins were soft, and it was a tasty wine much better than other bottles I have had. From a cold cellar.

1988 Dom. de Chevalier – not much happening in this nose, and an almost sour/acidic thing at the end on palate. None for me, thanks!

1970 Haut Brion (magnum) – I am pretty familiar with this wine from regular bottle, but this one handily surpassed any of those I’ve tasted. Coffee nose, excellent flavour concentration, ending with soft tannin. Very nice!

1982 Haut Brion – nice nose well integrated fruit, although a chaptalised wine with lower natural fruit than the 82 La Mission, and good length. This wine showed better when younger, when it even surpassed the 1983 on occasion.

1983 Haut Brion – browning edges, very harmonious nose, smooth in the mouth and with some soft tannins, but mostly resolved, and excellent fruit, better now than the 1982. Perfectly ready now.

1995 Smith Haut Lafite – a decent nose, but lean and compact in the mouth. I’ve had better bottles.

1982 Malartic Lagraviere – yes, a wine that I finished years ago, pegging it as needing to be drunk up, yet this one showed well. Colour now pale, and slightly high acidity at the end, but surprisingly alive.

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