2015 Pessac Leognan Ratings Tasting Notes, Tips on Best Wines to Buy!



2015 Pessac Leognan is easily the best red wine vintage for the appellation since 2010. I know that to many people, that is simply stating the obvious. On the other hand, I am sure several readers are also aware that 2012 was solid for the region for red wine. Plus, 2011, 2013 and even 2014 were quite outstanding years for the dry, white Bordeaux wine from Pessac Leognan and Graves. After reading my tasting notes, it is easy to see that 2015 Pessac Leognan wines are quite good. Yes, 2009 and 2010 are definitely better vintages. But there is a consistent level of quality in a great style that for the red wines, perhaps 2015 Pessac Leognan will give 2005 a run for the money in time. The vintage was slightly more challenging for the white wines. While they are rich, ripe and have good sweetness, there are wines that could use just a bit more acidity to freshen things up.

If you want to read about 2015 Bordeaux tasting notes for all the other appellations in Boredaux, please see: 2015 Bordeaux Barrel Tasting Notes, Ratings reports

2015 Pessac Leognan springs from a mild winter and a dry, sunny and warm spring. Bud break took place in the middle of April and the flowering that occurred at the end of May was fast and easy. 2015 Pessac Leognan was like the rest of Bordeaux during the summer as June and July were hot, dry months. Very little if any rain fell in the region. The lack of water blended with the hot, dry conditions in some vineyards caused stress to the vines, which in turn shut down their growth cycle to protect themselves. While this was not a replay of 2003, it looked like the drought was going to cause problems for the growers.

However, the late July rains saved the day for 2015 Graves and Pessac Leognan wines and things began returning to normal. The weather in August was cooler than usual, helping preserve the aromatic potential of the grapes. The rain that fell August 3 and August helped produce grapes that were perfectly ripe and healthy. August ranged from warm to cool temperatures during the day with cold nights, helping the grapes gain much needed freshness. It is also important to note that in Pessac Leognan, the months of September and October were drier than much of Bordeaux, especially in the northern Medoc. In fact, Pessac Leognan actually received much less precipitation than usual on an annualized basis.

Picking took place under good conditions. You can read about the 2015 harvest and vintage in detail to give you a good idea on what took place during the growing season for the entire region: 2015 Bordeaux Harvest Report While a few early birds looking for more freshness began harvesting Sauvignon Blanc as early as August 27, most growers began picking their 2015 Pessac Leognan white Bordeaux grapes at the start of September. The red wine grape harvest took place at many estates from September 15, finishing by October 8 at the majority of the properties. Enough about the weather. Let’s get to the wines!

2015 Bouscaut – Ripe, earthy plums and red cherries add an interesting dimension to the tobacco character found in this softly textured, early drinking wine. 87 – 89 Pts

2015 Bouscaut Blanc – Fresh lemons, lime and grapefruit on the nose, medium bodied, with a refreshing pomelo finish. 90 Pts

2015 Brown – Fresh, ripe, soft fruits, medium-bodied and refined on the palate, this wine could definitely improve once it’s in the bottle. 89 – 91 Pts

2015 Brown Blanc – Crisp, bright, fresh citrus, vanilla, stone and a zippy, sweet pomelo finish shine through in this stylish, well-priced, white Bordeaux wine. 91 – Pts

2015 Cantelys – 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot created a forward styled wine with round textures, fresh, black cherries, plums and pop of dark cherry and cocoa in the finish. 89-91 Pts

2015 Cantelys Blanc – From equal parts Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, this forward styled, white Bordeaux wine is replete with sweet, fresh, yellow and orange citrus with grapefruit both on the nose and in the mouth. 91 Pts

2015 Carbonnieux – Finesse, charm and soft, polished, fresh, ripe, smoky, dark, red fruits make this medium-bodied wine quite the treat. 90 – 92 Pts

2015 Carbonnieux Blanc – Lively, bright, ripe citrus notes with a kick of lime, freshness for lift and a sweet, citrus peel and honeysuckle finish. 92 Pts

2015 Carmes Haut Brion – Minerals, flowers, sweet, ripe berries, forest floor and tobacco scents create the perfume. This wine is soft, silky and smooth with a long finish. The tannins are powerful, elegant, sophisticated and express more of a refined, saline quality in this vintage than in previous years. This wine should age extremely well with little effort. Using 45% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and vinified with 45% of the stems still intact, the wine reached 14.02% Alcohol with a pH of 3.7. 90% of the wine is aging in 100% new, French oak barrels and the remainder is aging in amphora. 94 – 96 Pts

2015 Carmes Haut-Brion Le Clos Des Carmes – Smoky with licorice, dark berries, cocoa and earthy qualities, this wine is medium/full-bodied, soft, silky and in balance with freshness and sweet, dark, red fruits and spice in the finish. Blending 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine reached 14% alcohol with a pH of 3.8. 89 – 91 Pts

2015 Chantegrive – The best red wine ever from Chantegrive. With depth of color, smoke, thyme, plum, espresso and earthy character, this wine is fresh, forward and fruity in the finish. 86 – 88 Pts

2015 Clos de Landiras – From an even split of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot, this wine offers dark, black cherries and smoky cigar fragrances. Easy to drink, round and forward with a sweet, dark, red berry note and thyme in the finish. it makes quite a statement that with such a tiny production, Loic Pasquet is willing to make a second wine. 87 – 89 Pts

2015 Clos Marsalette – Smoke, coffee bean, cigar box and dark, red fruits shape a silky, polished, sweet, fresh, tobacco-singed wine with real character and selling for a song. There is no better wine for the money today in Pessac Leognan than Clos Marsalette. 90 – 92 Pts

2015 Clos Marsalette Blanc – Grapefruit, vanilla and fresh squeezed lemon with a crisp, sweet, ripe, soft, honeysuckle filled finish. 90 Pts

2015 Couhins – Medium-bodied with forest scents, clean red fruits, elegant textures and freshness in the refined finish. 88-90 Pts

2015 Couhins-Lurton – Fresh grapefruit, lemon peel and green apple, combining sweetness, crisp refreshing acidity and a stony, yellow citrus filled finish. 91 Pts

2015 de Fieuzal – Licorice, caramel and smoked black cherries on the nose, this wine is elegant, medium-bodied and soft on the palate. 89 – 91 Pts

2015 de Fieuzal Blanc – Lemon, lime, vanilla bean and bright, green apple flavors are enhanced with a zippy acidity in the crisp finish. 92 Pts

2015 de France – Medium-bodied with a smoky, fresh, ripe, red berry center, this wine becomes even better with its delightful endnote of tobacco and a bit of cocoa. 88-90 Pts

2015 Denarius – Deep in color with polished, chocolate covered cherries and licorice as a main part of its theme, this wine was fashioned from a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. The vines used for this wine are an average of 40 years old and the production is quite tiny, only 250 cases are produced in an average year. Micro vinified, meaning that it was made entirely in barrels, this wine is aged on its lees in 100% new, French oak barrels for up to 24 months before bottling. 90-92 Pts

2015 Domaine de Chevalier – Cigar box, smoke, chocolate covered plums, earth and freshly rolled cigars on the nose, this wine is fleshy, ripe and rich with a good depth of flavor and length in the finish. Produced from a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot and reaching 13.5% alcohol, the wine represents 50% of the harvest, which took place from September 26 to October 16. The wine is being aged in 33% new French, oak barrels. 94 – 96 Pts

2015 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc – Bright and lively with an open, grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple and honeysuckle character, this wine is fresh, refreshing and long with a crisp, sweet, citrus-filled finish. – 96 Pts

2015 Gazin-Rocquencourt – Blending 55% Cabernet Sauvignon with 45% Merlot produced a forward, round, smoky, espresso, black cherry and thyme infused wine in an open, easy to like, medium bodied style. 89 – 91 Pts

2015 Gazin-Rocquencourt Blanc – From 100% Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is bright, crisp and fresh with loads of green apples, lemon peel and pomelo from start to finish. 90 Pts

Haut Bailly Veronique Sanders Wine

2015 Haut Bailly – With an excellent depth of color, this wine displays smoke, blackberries, boysenberry, cigar box, spice, caramel and forest floor. Full-bodied with deep flavor, freshness and length. The tannins are refined, but noticeable. This will take time to develop, soften and come around, but based on previous vintages, given time, this should do exactly that. The finish is all about the sweet, ripe, pure, dark, red and black fruits, cocoa and cherry liqueur you find easily in the endnotes. From a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot, this wine reached 13.6% alcohol with a pH of 3.7. The Grand Vin was produced from 50% of the harvest, which took place from September 15 to October 8. 96 – 98 Pts

2015 Haut Bergey – Ripe dark red berries, thyme, and smoke in the nose lead to a blast of dark cherries in the plush, round, finish. 89 – 91 Pts

2015 Haut Bergey Blanc – With ample, refreshing lemon, lime and pomelo scents in the perfume, the wine is sweet, fresh and invigorating from start to finish. 91 Pts

2015 Haut Brion – It is the sensuous texture that really makes this wine rock! The feel is pure silk and velvet and the impressive fragrance captivates with its floral, smoke, boysenberry, cassis and earthy aromatics. This wine has great color, real volume, depth of flavor and despite the fact that it is quite high in alcohol, there is no sense of heaviness or heat. It lacks the depth of the 2009 but it offers more elegance and silk on the palate. Made from a blend of 50% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet Franc, the wine reached 14.9% alcohol with a pH of 3.73 and represents 55% of the harvest. 98 – 100 Pts

Haut Brion Harvest Delmas

2015 Haut Brion Blanc – A melange of fresh squeezed citrus, flowers, lemon curd, honeysuckle and rocks are right where they need to be. Incredibly fresh, vibrant, lively and richly textured, the bright yellow fruits in the end really stand out. The wine was made from a blend of 69% Sauvignon Blanc and 31% Semillon. The wine reached 14.3% alcohol with a pH of 3.14. The harvest took place between August 28 and September 7. 97 Pts

2015 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion – Silken, polished, ripe, round and packing layers of sweet, lushly textured fruits, smoke and tobacco, this medium/full-bodied wine ends with a long, fresh, ready, fruit-filled, finish. Made from a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc, the wine reached 14.6% alcohol. 92 – 94 Pts

2015 La Louviere – Medium-bodied and fresh, tobacco and cherry fruits on the nose quickly move to an elegant, cherry, fennel and cigar box character on the palate. This wine is going to be easy to drink on the early side of its life. 88 – 90 Pts

2015 La Louviere Blanc – White peach, orange marmalade and pomelo get your attention rather quickly, but its the zippy, fresh lemon peel notes in the finish that stay with you. 90 Pts

2015 La Mission Haut Brion Blanc – Stone, fresh citrus and bracing acidity, this wine has real concentration of flavor, power and length, leaving you with a focused, stony, fresh, sweet, fleshy citrus character which remains in your mouth long after the wine has left your glass. 98 Pts

2015 La-Mission-Haut-Brion – Smoke, tar, tobacco, flowers, boysenberry and cassis pop with no effort. On the palate, this wine combines power with freshness, length and purity of fruit. Rich and structured, this delight delivers a multifaceted finish, which I timed at close to 60 seconds! Created from a blend of 58% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc, the wine reached 15.1% alcohol with a pH of 3.74. The Grand Vin was made from 56% of the harvest, which took place from September 9 to October 1. 96 – 98 Pts

2015 Larrivet Haut Brion – Round supple textures, smoky plummy and earthy, with ripe fruit, espresso and thyme notes that are all over the place. With more volume and depth than usual, the medium/full bodied, soft, tobacco laced, fruit filled finish is right where it needs to be. 91 – 93 Pts

2015 Larrivet Haut Brion Blanc – Crushed rocks, juicy grapefruit and vanilla with a blast of lemon and lime in the finish, give this wine freshness and sweet, citrus fruits from start to finish. 93 Pts

2015 La Tour Martillac – Oak, smoke, fennel and sweet, dark berries on the nose move to a silky, soft, refined, fresh expression with ample ripe fruits and charm. 91 – 93 Pts

2015 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion – Smoky blackberries, plums and dark cherries offer up a silky, lush, rich, ripe and supple textured pleasure. It’s hard to believe a wine this good is only their second wine. Produced from 57% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc, this wine hit 14.6% alcohol with a pH of 3.73. 91 – 93 Pts

2015 Le Clarte de Haut Brion Blanc – Blending 73% Semillon and 27% Sauvignon Blanc, this wine serves up honeysuckle, grapefruit, lemon curd and marmalade. Fresh, lively and crisp, the finish is all about its pomelo and ripe, lemon character. 92 Pts

2015 Le-Pape – Smoke, licorice, caramel, sweet cherries and spice, this wine is medium-bodied, soft, fresh and forward with an elegant appeal. Produced from a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine reached 13.8% alcohol. 89 – 91 Pts

2015 Les Hauts de Smith – Using 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot, this wine shows good color and delivers an earthy, truffle, underbrush and black raspberry sensation. With good freshness, soft tannins and a licorice, cocoa and round-textured, blackberry finish, it will offer a lot of early drinking, character-filled pleasure. 89 – 91 Pts

2015 Les Hauts de Smith Blanc – Using 100% Sauvignon Blanc, this wine jumps with fresh citrus peel, just squeezed lemon, lemongrass and orange rind. Richly textured and fresh, the wine is loaded with crisp, sweet, yellow citrus in the finish. 91 Pts

2015 Lespault-Martillac – Medium-bodied, forward, soft and focused on its red cherry core, this will be enjoyable on release. 86 – 88 Pts

2015 Lespault-Martillac Blanc – Fresh lime and lemon peel with a bit of the waxy Sauvignon Blanc quality, this wine is forward, fresh and ready for early, refreshing, crisp, citrus filled summer drinking. 90 Pts

2015 Liber Pater – Inky dark in color, this wine is thick, rich, dense and intense. The weight takes up a lot of volume on your palate, though due to its freshness, it is not at all flabby. The finish is packed with lush, dark, chocolate covered blackberries and jam. Produced from a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot and 5% assorted rare, grape varieties that were used pre phylloxera, including: Castet, Marselan and Tarney Coulant. Due to these non-Bordeaux varietals, the wine will be sold as a Vin de France. Aged in 100% new, French, oak barrels, this wine was made for the first time with 100% ungrafted vines, meaning that in theory, this is about as close as you are going to get to wines produced in the 19th century, albeit with a lot more selection, new oak and low yields. Still, it’s fascinating to consider what is taking place at Liber Pater. 93 – 95 Pts

2015 Liber Pater Blanc – Using 100% Semillon, this wine opens with fresh lemon peel, honeysuckle, orange and vanilla notes. The wine is full-bodied, concentrated and loaded with minerality along with sweet, fresh, honeyed, yellow and orange citrus fruits. 93 Pts

2015 Malartic Lagraviere – This is probably the best vintage of Malartic Lagraviere to date! Soft, round and polished, with lush fruits and silky tannins, this wine has depth, texture and roundness — but it is not for the oak averse. Produced from a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc, the wine reached 13.8% alcohol. The harvest took place from September 21 to October 7. 93 – 95 Pts

2015 Malartic Lagraviere Blanc – Fresh-squeezed pomelo, lemon zest and vanilla start the fragrant aromatics, this long, fresh, clean wine is packed with lively, vanilla, lemon, orange and green apple that really stick with you. Harvested from September 8 to September 15, the wine was produced from a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon. 94 Pts

2015 Mejean – Smoky, tobacco essence is found in this medium-bodied, fresh, forward and fruity charmer. 88 – 90 Pts

2015 Olivier – A medium-bodied, elegant charmer with silky, soft textures and ripe, sweet, dark, red fruits with more volume and depth than usual — which is nice to see. 89 – 91 Pts

2015 Olivier Blanc – Lemon custard, green apple and grapefruit notes are abundant in this crisp, crunchy and fresh wine. Prepare yourself for a blast of fresh, racy acidity in the bright, citrus finish. 92 Pts

2015 Pape Clement – Deep, dark hues lead you to a chocolate covered, black cherry, smoke, caramel and coffee bean set of aromas. Fat and rich with power, density and lush textures on the palate, this wine was produced from a blend of 56% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot. Reaching 14.2% alcohol with a pH of 3.85, the picking took place from September 25 to October 15. The grand Vin represents 60% of the harvest. 94 – 96 Pts

2015 Pape Clement Blanc – Vanilla, candied citrus peel, honey, floral, lemon and crushed rocks on the nose. Full-bodied, rich and lush with ample freshness and a green apple, spicy lemon, vanilla, and candied grapefruit finish that is both fresh and refreshing. The wine, which reached 14.82% alcohol, was produced from a blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, and 10% Sauvignon. Aging will take place in a unique combination of foudre, concrete egg vats and new, French, oak barrels. 96 Pts

2015 Seguin – Medium-bodied with a tobacco, smoke, licorice and plum profile, this is a forward, fresh and finesse styled wine with nice, sweet, spicy, red fruits, cocoa and tobacco in the endnote. 88 – 90 Pts

Smith Haut Lafitte Daniel Cathiard

2015 Smith Haut Lafitte – With a good depth of color, this wine pops with black cherry liqueur, blueberry, licorice, smoke, truffle, cigar box and espresso notes in the bouquet. A fine purity of fruit with sweetness and ripe berries give you a wine that is not as flashy as 2009 or 2010, but there is focus, finesse, elegance, polished tannins, concentration and intensity of flavor, with the ability to age and improve. The wine was made from a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Reaching 13.75% alcohol with a pH of 3.7, the harvest took place from September 22 to October 12 and the Grand Vin represents just 40% of the harvest. Because 2015 is the 25th vintage for the Cathiard family, and it’s the 650th year that wine has been made at the estate, the wine will be placed in a special bottle with a sharp looking black and gold label! 96 – 98 Pts

2015 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc – Ripe, vibrant, zesty citrus, honeysuckle and vanilla with a lingering touch of honey and vanilla bean in the finish, this wine leaves an enjoyable, lasting impression. The wine reached 13.75% Alcohol with a pH of 3.2. The wine was made from a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Semillon. The harvest took place from August 31 to September 19. 95 Pts

2015 Smith Haut Lafitte Le Petit – The second wine of Smith Haut Lafitte is produced for export from Les Hauts de Smith, as it is dominated by 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and paired with 40% Merlot. Earthy scents coupled with tobacco, coffee, black raspberry and plums reveal freshness in the fruit, softness in the tannins and a spicy, dark, red fruit finish. 89 – 91 Pts

2015 Smith Haut Lafitte Le Petit Blanc – Using 80% Sauvignon Blanc along with 20% Semillon, this wine offers lemon curd, succulent grapefruit, honeydew and waxy, citrus rind. It is Juicy, sweet, fresh and ripe and should be delicious upon release. 91 Pts

Frankly, I am as amazed as you are, but I am still right on schedule. Our next release, which finishes the Left Bank are the wines of the Haut-Medoc and the Medoc appellations. That should come out Monday. After that, we start with the Right Bank, publishing Pomerol first. That will be fairly comprehensive with close to 60 wines! If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, or just want to talk about wine, feel free to post.


  1. Greatness casts a long and dark shadow and we can no more refuse the achievements of the ’09 and ’10 vintage than to shut off the sun but rather to exalt in its warmth and shout when it’s umbra covers our path.

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