Wine Notes and Facts for Decanter Pessac-Léognan Tasting, London

Hello Tastourians,

Wine Fairs are difficult to gather the group around, so I thought I’d share my notes with you. Yes, I am a wine geek, and whenever I go to an event such as this I always research and create a ‘presentation’.  But more importantly, whenever I host an event, it’s all about giving you the best experience.

Pessac-Léognan (PL)

It’s pronounced pay-sac-lay-oh-nyahn… and I challenge you all to say that 3 times fast at the end of the Decanter tasting tomorrow night.

PL is an appellation in the sub region of Graves. It is not actually in Bordeaux, it’s located 25 miles outside the city centre of Bordeaux. But the wines are so far superior than any other in the appellation that an exception has been made. For example, Château Haut-Brion, is the only First Growth property outside the Médoc. This regions ego is rightfully-so bloated, it actually fought and won its independence from the Graves region 1987… that’s boring and legal, and I know why you’re really reading… you want to know the best tables to go to at the tasting.

What is everyone raving about? What makes this wine taste so different than the rest? When you think of Graves, think Gravel. Hey, maybe that’s where it got its name? In fact it is. See not everything I say is a bunt hit to the pitcher. PL wines are extra – earthy and some say the most soil-driven of all the wines in Bordeaux. But that’s not all. This region has the hottest micro-climate of Bordeaux, meaning that the wines will be richer and fuller in body; much more like those of its southern neighbours and new world brothers.

You may get the following: Roasted Meat, Tobacco, Leather, Iron, Spice

Here’s a Tastour Tip: Pessac and Léognan are two different villages 6 miles (10Km) apart, with Léognan being the most southern region . So, if you’re looking to strike up a conversation with that gorgeous blonde, that one will surly win him or her over.

Here’s another interesting fact: During the English Reign of France, they exported barrels of wine from Graves to England. Making Grave the first French wines exported. This is slightly ironic, as the main export today is timber. Unlike many of the other regions in Bordeaux this area is densely populated with forest.

Drum roll, please… I have one more. I have heard that Haut Brion is credited for being the first Bordeaux wine to receive a professional review on April 10th 1663. What do you think Samuel Pepys would say about Robert Parker? hummm.

So what about the whites? Whites are rare in Bordeaux. However, you’re in luck. The most prestigious whites in Bordeaux come from this region, in fact 20% of the wines from PL are white). When you see one, take note of its age. I’m often telling you to drink Sauvignon Blancs young. This is not the case for wines from Graves. They often age up to a decade. I sure hope Decanter has lined up a few for us to try! These will not be the fresh fruit driven Sauvignon Blancs you are used to. They will be made fat and round, by obsessive lees-feeding and oak soaking greedy grapes. For me, a little bit of greed is a good thing, and I hope you don’t mind if I exhibit the same as I love this style of white. Uncommonly for Old World wines, producers of this region treat their whites like an aspiring actress. They’ve has slight cosmetic surgery… like a bit of Botox and a citrus peel. A little goes a long way, and under the knife of a good surgeon can perform miracles. In case you’re wondering, the grapes they use are Sauvignon Blanc (minimum 25%, Sémillon and small amounts of Muscadelle. You might be able to smell orange blossom and passion fruits (if you’re not too busy chatting away)

Okay, so you’ve read this far, and your reward is the answer to the million dollar question…
Kelly, There are 16 Grand Cru Classés, which ones are going to be at the Decanter Fine Wine Tasting?

It would be mind blowing if all 16 were there – for £25. However, there is a fantastic selection and all 23 producers offer fantastic wines.

I’ll give you a little tip – if it says Cru Classé de Graves (then go there first, as they will be out of wine by 7pm) On this list, the best are: Oliver, Couhins Lurton, Domaine de Chevalier, Carbonnieux, Malartic-Lagraviere

When they run out, the Tastour Tip, is to go to these underdogs: Larrivet Haut-Brion, de Fieuzal, La Louvière, de Rochemorin

What are the best vintages? Well with a the exception of Haut-Brion, and Mission Haut-Brion, the region wasn’t on the wine investment map. Things really changed from 2005, so if you are looking for some bargain investments, start with this vintage.
I’d love to hear what the producers are saying so do ask, and post it in the comments.

Looking forward to seeing you all there! Hope these notes help.


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