2016 Pessac Leognan, Graves, Tasting Notes Ratings Red and White Wine



By this point, you probably know the 2016 Bordeaux growing season is the production of a split personality similar to Jekyl and Hyde. The initial part of the year spent most of its life drenched, from torrential rains. By the time June was getting ready to close, the summer months turned everything around with warm, sunny, and extremely dry conditions. For more detail on the 2016 Bordeaux growing season and harvest report: 2016 Bordeaux Harvest and Growing Season Report

I bring up the split personality because that is the best way to describe 2016 Pessac Leognan wines.

In fact, 2016 Pessac Leognan has 2 multiple personalities. Not only is there a marked difference in quality and consistency between Pessac and Leognan, but there are different levels of quality between the red and dry white Bordeaux wines. And that’s fair. It happens, but it is the exception and not the rule, when the dry white wines are the same level of quality that you find in the red wines. Most recently, look at 2013, 2011 and 2007. Those were extremely challenging vintages for the red wines, but all three vintages struck gold for the white Bordeaux wines! 2016 Pessac Leognan white wines are good, but they are very ripe and lack the level of acidity and freshness found in the top vintages.

All that being said about the dry white wines, 2016 Pessac Leognan produced some very good and even future legendary, red wines that merit a serious look for you cellar, if they are priced correctly. But the vintage did not favor all growers, vineyards and terroir evenly. You can see that in the tasting notes.

This is the sixth in a series of reports covering the best 600 wines from the 2016 Bordeaux vintage. It is also the final report for the Left Bank. The next report will move to the Right Bank starting with Pomerol, that includes over 50 wines and then St. Emilion, which is our biggest report, as we cover more than 150 wines! We’ll finish our series of articles with the sweet wine of Sauternes.

2016 Pessac Leognan Wine Tasting Notes, Ratings

2016 Bouscat – Medium bodied, soft, polished, silky and forward, with s soft, smoky, cassis and earthy blackberry center. 88 – 87 Pts

2016 Brown – Medium bodied, juicy, smoky, ripe, dark fruits, lush textures, polished tannins and a supple, smoky finish. 89 – 91 Pts

2016 Cantelys – Medium bodied with smoky, black raspberries and plum create the character of the wine. Forward in style, easy to drink and should offer pleasure on release. 88 – 90 Pts

2016 Cantelys Blanc – Using 50% Semillon and 50% Sauvignon Blanc, you find, pomelo, vanilla, honeysuckle and citrus aromatics. Forward, his forward styled, you get the feeling of flesh, yellow citrus fruits in the finish 85 – 85 Pts

2016 Carbonnieux – Medium bodied, with forest and leafy notes, smoky, cassis and red berries in the light, finish. 86 – 88 Pts

2016 Carbonnieux Blanc – Light, fresh and still refreshing, the juicy mix of lemon, tart green apple, and lime rind is already easy to drink. 90 – 90 Pts

2016 Chantegrive – Medium bodied, with a smoky core of soft, polished, red fruits and tobacco, this early drinking charmer will be ready to taste on release. 87 – 89 Pts

2016 Chantegrive Blanc – Forward, easy to like, crowd pleaser, with plenty of juicy, crisp, citrus and bits of green apples to keep you busy. Drink this cool, and on the young side. 85 – 85 Pts

2016 Chantegrive Cuvee Caroline – Juicy, crisp, yellow, citrus fruits, vanilla and apples, paired with refreshing acidity and a strong, grapefruit oriented finish. 88 – 88 Pts


2016 Domaine de Chevalier – Silky tannins, sweet, ripe, elegant, polished, and refined, this is a top vintage for Domaine de Chevalier. The tobacco, dark, red berries and spice are really shining this year. The wine has that elusive quality of freshness, length, purity and character. This will age quite nicely for decades. The wine was produced from a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. The fruit was picked from October 4 to October 21. 96 – 98 Pts

2016 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc – Blending 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon produced a richly textured, fat, sweet, lush, ripe wine with a mineral and yellow citrus driven character that is on display in the finish. 94 – 94 Pts

2016 Clos Marsalette – Smoke, dark cherry and tobacco notes create the bouquet. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied, fresh, supple, and forward, with a dark cherry and espresso filled finish. The wine was made from a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. 90 – 92 Pts

2016 Clos Marsalette Blanc – Vanilla, pomelo, tropical fruit, lemon and honeysuckle get you going. Ripe, sweet, round with juicy, with a citrus, dominated finish. 90 – 90 Pts

2016 Couhins Lurton – Medium bodied, with, smoky, red fruits and spice in a user friendly style. 87 – 89 Pts

2016 Ferrande – Medium bodied, forward, early drinking smoky wine with a nice cherry core of fruit. Fresh and open, this will be nice to drink on release. 87 – 89 Pts

2016 Ferrande Blanc – Fresh and lively sweet lemons, grapefruit and green apple notes are in abundance. The finish is crisp and stony. This is a nice value for a white Bordeaux wine. 87 – 89 Pts

2016 de Fieuzal – Medium bodied, forward and already showing a delicious, smoky, red fruit character, made even better by its spicy, freshness and tobacco nuances. 90 – 92 Pts

2016 de Fieuzal Blanc – Pomelo and assorted, citrus fruits with a splash of lime, vanilla and honeysuckle, with sweetness in the fruits from start to finish. Forward and already fun to drink. 90 – 90 Pts

2016 de France – Smoky red fruits, medium bodied and ending with an oaky, plum and black cherry splash of fruits and tobacco, with a bit of cocoa at the finish. 87 – 89 Pts

2016 de France Blanc – Crisp, bright, lemons, grapefruit and floral characteristics define this blend of 85% Semillon and 15% Sauvignon Blanc. 87-90 Pts 89 – 89 Pts

2016 Gazin-Rocquencourt – Dark earthy plums compliment the licorice and dark chocolate covered cherries. The wine has a spicy character in the mouth, with ripe tannins and a juicy, dark berry finish. The wine was produced from blending 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot. 90 – 92 Pts

2016 Gazin-Rocquencourt Blanc – From 100% Sauvignon Blanc, the mix of just picked grapefruit, lemon and apple is right there. Good freshness, with a nice kick at the end, this will be delicious on release. 91 – 91 Pts


2016 Haut Bailly – Deep in color, with intensity of fruit, silky tannins, length and volume. There is a lot going on here. On the attack, the wine opens with ripe, spice filled plums, moving next to darker fruits. The fruit and flavor builds in the mouth and really sticks with you. The refinement of the texture, depth of flavor and the purity of the fruit is what you’ll notice, before being impressed with the length. The wine was made from 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. The wine reached 13.6% alcohol with a pH of 3.7. The Grand Vin was produced from 55% of the harvest, which took place from September 26 to October 18. 97 – 99 Pts

2016 Haut-Bailly La Parde de Haut Bailly – Sweet, soft, fresh and fruity, this will drink well on release, while you’re busy waiting for the Grand Vin to develop. 88 – 90 Pts

2016 Haut Bergey – Smoky, earthy, dark, red fruits, polished, forward and in a crowd pleasing, upfront, medium bodied style. There is nice plush textures, but not a lot of complexity. 87 – 89 Pts

2016 Haut Brion – Very dark in color, with just a bit of purple in the sheen the wine is the perfect combination of purity, power, refinement, complexity and length. Not as powerful as other recent vintages, you find more elegance on the palate. The finish builds in intensity moving from flavor to flavor, leaving you with this sense of purity and Cuban cigar tobacco. The wine was made from a blend of 56% Merlot, 37.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.5% Cabernet Franc. The wine reached 13.9% alcohol with a pH of 3.67. The harvest took place from September 19 to October 13. The wine represents 53% of the Grand Vin. 99 – 100 Pts

2016 Haut Brion Blanc – Full bodied and concentrated with sweet, polished, fresh, citrus, honeysuckle, grapefruit and lemon peel. Sweet, ripe and forward, this can be aged of course, or enjoyed in its youth, The wine was produced using 70.5% Sauvignon Blanc and 29.5% Semillon. The harvest took place from September 1 to September 13. The wine reached 13.85% alcohol with a pH of 3.23, this represents only 31% of the harvest. 97 – 97 Pts

2016 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion – Elegant, finesse styled wine with layers of sweet, ripe, juicy, cassis, blackberry, espresso, spice, earth and tobacco. Fresh, clean, complex and long it’s hard to believe this is the second wine! The wine was produced from blending 51.3% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.1% Cabernet Franc and 2.6% Petit Verdot. The wine reached 13.6% alcohol. 93 – 95 Pts

2016 Le Clarte de Haut Brion Blanc – Just squeezed citrus and honeysuckle on the nose and on the medium bodied, palate, with ample, sweet, lemon and green apple in the finish. The wine blends 76.3% Semillon and 23.7% Sauvignon Blanc. 93 – 93 Pts

2016 La Garde – Soft, sweet, dark red fruits, earth and black cherries. The wine is sweet, fruity and fleshy with an open, dark, red fruit filled finish, with just a hint of peppery spice in the end note. 86 – 88 Pts

2016 La Garde Blanc – Waxy lemon and grapefruit on the nose is coupled with nutty pineapple notes in the round finish. Drink this on the young side. 85 – 85 Pts

2016 La Louviere – Medium-bodied with a cigar box and smoke note that really adds to the sweet, ripe, cherries. Elegant, fresh and bright, you can age this a few years for more nuance. 89 – 91 Pts

2016 La Louviere Blanc – An early drinker here, with the right amount of just squeezed lemons, grape fruit, tart green apple and tangerine make this an appealing, summer, white Bordeaux wine. 89 – 89 Pts

Jean Philippe Delmas

2016 La-Mission-Haut-Brion – Deep in color, the smoke, tobacco, dark red fruits, earth, espresso and cigar box aromatics keep you busy. Full bodied, concentrated, the wine takes up a lot of room on your palate. It’s long, expansive and is a Cuban cigar dream, provided they also enjoy a big wave of fruit. There is a lot of tannin, but the fruit is so ripe, and sweet, you barely notice it. The wine was made from a blend of 57.5% Merlot and 42.5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The harvest took place from September 19 to October 14. The wine reached 13.7% alcohol, with a pH of 3.66. This represents 50% of the harvest. 97 – 99 Pts

2016 La Mission Haut Brion Blanc – With effort, you find lemon peel, grapefruit and Granny Smith apples in the perfume. Full bodied, with energy, the wine displays ample, just picked, yellow citrus from start to finish. The wine was made from a blend of 62.7% Sauvignon Blanc and 37.3% Semillon. This is a first for the wine as both La Mission Haut Brion Blanc and Laville Haut Brion Blanc, as this is the first time the wine has used a preponderance of Sauvignon Blanc in the blend. The wine reached 14.5% alcohol with a pH of 3.16. The harvest took place from September 5 to September 13. The Grand Vin represents only 31% of the harvest. 95 – 95 Pts

2016 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion – Medium/full bodied, with spicy, sweet, fresh cassis, the wine offers clean, spicy, open fruits, polished tannins, length, fruit and spice in the finish. Made from a blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36.5% Merlot and 21.5% Cabernet Franc, the wine reached 13.8% alcohol. 92 – 94 Pts

2016 La-Tour-Martillac – Juicy, smoky, dark ripe cherries, nice flesh on the fruits, freshness and complexity, and for a fair price to quality ratio too! 91 – 93 Pts

2016 La-Tour-Martillac Blanc – Sweet aromas of honeysuckle, just squeezed citrus and vanilla bean are brought to you with a lemon filled center and semi sweet, round, citrus finish. 91 – 91 Pts

2016 Larrivet Haut Brion – Soft, medium bodied, forward, elegant and refined, the fruit is ripe, plummy and smoky. The tannins are silky and the finish is refined. 91 – 93 Pts

2016 Larrivet Haut Brion Blanc – Vanilla with a healthy dose of pomelo, lemon peel and honeysuckle are all over the place here, finishing with another blast of juicy lemons. 91 – 91 Pts

2016 Le-Pape – Licorice, black cherries, wet earth and caramel scents come easily to the front. On the palate, the wine balances between the fresh fruit and ripe tannins. The finish leaves you with spicy, plums. The wine was produced from a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine reached 13.8% alcohol with pH of 3.7. 90 – 92 Pts

2016 Le Thil Comte Clary – The last vintage made from 100% Merlot as the Cabernet Sauvignon is old enough to be added to the blend in subsequent years. Licorice, espresso and black cherry gives the smoky, medium/full bodied, supple textured wine complexity and lots of easy to like fruit in the finish. You can drink this in release, or age it for a few years. 89 – 91 Pts


2016 Les Carmes Haut Brion – With a real intensity of raw material here, the nose pops with smoke, tobacco, flowers, earth, boysenberry and cassis. As time goes on, you find dark chocolate covered plums too. The texture is surreal. Pure silk and velvet fill your mouth and coat your palate. Concentrated and deep, this has a freshness, vibrancy and purity of fruit that really leaves you breathless. To understand the finish, picture eating ripe and almost over berries right off the vine, while smoking an aged Cuban cigar and you are almost there, if you just add the silky, velvet textures, rocks and stones. The finish sticks with you for over 60 seconds! The wine was made from blending 41% Cabernet Franc, 39% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon that included 50% of the grapes being whole, bunch fermented, the wine reached 13.8% alcohol, with a pH of 3.55. The harvest took place September 21 to October 8. The wine is aging in 100% new, French oak barrels, with 5% of the production aging in clay amphora. 98 – 100 Pts

2016 Le C des Carmes Haut Brion – Fresh, sweet, black fruits and boysenberry, with licorice and smoke to complicate the character. Silky, fresh fruits, soft tannins, with a juicy plum and salty, mineral driven finish that has body, finesse, length and the ability to age. Using, 25% whole bunches in the vinification, the wine was made from 51% Merlot, 48% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. 14% alcohol, with a pH of 3.5. The harvest took place September 28 to October 8. 92 – 94 Pts

2016 Lespault-Martillac – Smoky dark, red plums, with a real juicy character to the fruit. This is coupled with freshness and earthy, black cherries in the medium bodied finish. 90 – 90 Pts

2016 Lespault-Martillac Blanc – Juicy lemon, lime, green apple and honeysuckle going on here. The wine has a sweet shot of lime and pomelo in the finish. 90 – 90 Pts

2016 Liber Pater – Deep ruby in color, flowers, smoke, earth, tobacco, espresso and ripe, dark plum scents find you easily. Elegant, fresh and less dense than previous vintages, but in exchange, the wine has more lift and finesse that really shows a fine, Graves character. Ripe, fruits, refined, sandy tannins and a long, fresh, plummy finish. This should age quite well. The wine was produced from a unique blending of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5% Tarnay Coulant and .5% Castet. The Tarnay Coulant and Castet were used in pre phylloxera Bordeaux. Due to these non AOC allowed grape varietals, the wine will be sold as a Vin de France. The wine is made from the lowest yields in all of Bordeaux at 10 hectoliters per hectare. Aged on its lees in 100% new, French, oak barrels for between 28 to 30 months before bottling, the extended aging time is due to the fact the grapes all come from 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, and probably more new oak barrels, which have a longer aging time. Because of severe frost damage, only Liber Pater was produced this year, they did not make any white wine, Denarius of Clos de Landrias. 93 – 95 Pts


2016 Malartic Lagraviere – Licorice, dark cherry, espresso and smoke create the character. Full bodied, richly, concentrated and intense, the fruit is fat, yet, crunchy, spicy and juicy. It offers volume, and freshness with depth of flavor. Until now, I thought the 2015 was the best vintage from Malartic, but it looks like I am going to change my mind, as this year is probably better. Produced from a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, the wine reached 13.5% alcohol. The harvest took place from September 29 to October 20. 93 – 95 Pts

2016 Malartic Lagraviere Blanc – Lemon lime, flowers, and vanilla with a shot of grapefruit are out in the open. Luscious, yet crisp and refreshing, there is a lot of sweet fruit here with refreshing acidity giving it lift and complexity. Harvested from September 19 to September 26. The wine was produced from a blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon. 93 – 93 Pts

2016 Mejean – This wine is medium-bodied, smoky, fresh, open and lively, with an earthy, dark red berry finish. Made from a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. 88 – 90 Pts

2016 Olivier – Elegant, smoky, polished, and loaded with dark, supple textured, red fruits, silky tannins and a smoke drenched finish. 89 – 91 Pts

2016 Olivier Blanc – Citrus peel notes, blended in with a hint of tropical fruit and flowers defines the wine. A touch of honeysuckle rounds things off in the finish. 91 – 91 Pts

2016 Pape Clement – Very dark ruby in color, the smoky blackberries, cigar box and licorice aromatics are singing. There is a lot of freshness to the fruit, and the lower alcohol levels make the wine feel lighter and refreshing on the palate, especially in the silky finish. This vintage shows elegance, complexity and restraint. The wine was produced from a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, reaching 13.5% alcohol. The wine is being aged in 60% new, French oak barrels. The harvest took place from September 13 to October 19. 95 – 97 Pts

2016 Pape Clement Blanc – Lemon custard, grapefruit, vanilla and green apples create the bouquet. Full bodied, sweet and fleshy, this should drink well young. The wine was produced from a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc 45% Semillon. No Sauvignon Gris was used in the blend this year. The wine is aging is taking place in a combination of foudre, concrete egg vats and new, French, oak barrels for 16 months. 93 – 93 Pts

2016 Rahoul Blanc – Honeysuckle, citrus, and pomelo fruits are what you’ll find in this forward, round, easy drinking, seemingly, slightly sweet wine. 84 – 84 Pts

2016 Rahoul – Medium bodied, there is a smoky, earthy quality to the red fruits. The wine is quite sweet and tastes a bit forced for the vintage. 83 – 85 Pts

2016 Seguin – Medium-bodied with smoke, tobacco and cassis, the wine has soft textures, a forward style, and a spicy, tobacco and dark, red berry finish. This represents good value from Pessac Leognan. 90 – 92 Pts


2016 Smith Haut Lafitte – With a good depth of color, the wine is almost opaque with dark purple accents. Espresso, smoke, black fruits, wet earth, licorice, truffle and dark chocolate come right out, when asked. Full bodied, fat and opulent, with serious density, length, character and tannins. The tannins are ripe, but this is going to need time in the cellar, even with all the ripe, supple fruits. The wine was made from a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, 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. 96 – 98 Pts

2016 Les Hauts de Smith – Dark fruit, coffee bean, soft, polished textures and a dark, sweet, open, medium bodied, dark cherry finish that feels great, and should be easy to drink. The wine was made from a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. 89 – 91 Pts

2016 Les Hauts de Smith Blanc – Honeysuckle, Vermouth, grapefruit and herbs helps open the nose and the wine. Fleshy, yellow citrus with good sweetness, but not enough quite as much acidity as I would have liked are found here. 89 – 89 Pts

2016 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc – White peach, honeysuckle, pie crust and lemon curd aromatics are all over the place. The wine is concentrated, the fruit is sweet and juicy, but a but more lift would have made this really rock. The wine was produced from a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Semillon, reaching 14% alcohol with a pH of 3.2. 94 – 94 Pts

2016 Smith Haut Lafitte Le Petit – Earthy, smoky, wet forest, licorice and dark plums, with good density, supple, textures and a tannic finish, with a bit of dryness in the end note. 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. 90 – 92 Pts

2016 Smith Haut Lafitte Le Petit Blanc – Waxy, lemon curd on the nose leads you to a citrus filled, medium bodied, early drinking wine you can drink on release. 90 – 90 Pts

2016 Domaine de Solitude Rouge – Medium bodied, early drinker, with an earthy, dark plum core. Soft textured and easy to drink, the wine should be delicious on release. 88 – 88 Pts

2016 Domaine de la Solitude Blanc – Perfect white Bordeaux wine for easy drinking, with all its yellow citrus, crushed rock and lemon freshness. 90 – 90 Pts

If you have any questions or comments, please post. Stay tuned because our next detailed look at the 2016 Bordeaux vintage will focus on the Pomerol appellation. That article will be published tomorrow.


Post your comments or questions now