2017 Pessac Leognan is not an easy appellation to understand for consumers. The vintage was even more daunting for the growers to produce. The frost damage here and in the Graves region was severe. Numerous estate’s produced no wine, most notably Chateau de Fieuzal, Liber Pater and Chantegrive.
As hard as it is to believe, in the Graves appellation, not only did growers have to endure the worst frost since 1991, they were also struck by hail in August. When it rains it pours, and that happened too!
2017 Pessac Leognan started out with the promise of an early harvest. But that early promise led to disaster when 2 nights of sub 4 degree Centigrade temperatures struck the nights of April 27 and 28. Large swaths of vineyard land was devastated. The vines were burnt by the frost.
Conditions started improving until June. June was schizophrenic with strong rains and a ferocious heat wave that reached close to 40 degrees Celsius
The bi-annual Fete de la Fleur was held in Pessac Leognan in late June and the majority of the tuxedo clad guests were forced to remove their coats, due to the extreme, sweltering heat.
Overall, for 2017 Pessac Leognan, the vintage was dry, but the lack of sunshine and the frost, along with the late season rains set the tone for the vintage. For a detailed look at the weather and harvest that shaped the 2017 Bordeaux growing season 2017 Bordeaux Vintage and Harvest Report
While the 2017 Pessac Leognan wines varied for the red wine grapes, the vintage is another year when the dry, white Bordeaux wines were better than the reds.
At its best, there is a purity of fruit and elegance in the wines that make the red wines quite nice, and the wines will drink well early. The white wines are loaded with ripe, juicy citrus and racy acidity.
All of the 2017 Pessac Leognan and Graves wines were tasted in non blind conditions in Bordeaux from March 22-April 12. I was able to taste most of these wines at least twice and the results were always quite consistent.
2017 Bouscaut – Salty red fruits, tobacco and underbrush define the medium-bodied character. The fruit is crisp and spicy. A few years will no doubt help soften the wine. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 Brown – Medium bodied, juicy and forward, there is a groovy smoky character to the red fruits. Tobacco leaf and herbs kick in on the back end. The wine will benefit from a few years of bottle age. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Brown Blanc – The wine is loaded with ripe, fresh, bright lemons, grapefruit and a hint of orange blossom. Fresh, lively and crisp, you’ll find hints of green apple in the finish. 91 Pts
2017 Cantelys – Medium bodied, elegant, forward, refined and offering up easily its plums and cherry fruits with just the right hint of smoke in the background. Softly textured and easy to enjoy, this will be delicious on release. 89-91 Pts
2017 Cantelys Blanc – Grapefruit, honeydew and white peach on the nose, opulent and juicy in the mouth, an enjoyable spray of lemon and key lime in the finish. You can enjoy this white Bordeaux on release. 90 Pts
2017 Les Carmes Haut Brion – The wine is as dark in fruit as it is in color. This is a nap on Pratesi sheets – a silky, sensuous and richly textured rendezvous. Vibrancy on the palate, creamy tannins and layers of fruit-enhanced strata propel a surfeit of multi-colored fruit. Not quite at the level of the stunning 2016 but very close. The wine was made using 50% whole bunches during fermentation. From a blend of 41% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine reached 13.25% with a pH of 3.59. 94 – 96 Pts
2017 Le C des CarmesHaut Brion – Plump, sugar-laced black fruit, boysenberry, licorice, campfire smoke and barbecue essence get things underway. Quicky the sassy tannins kick in, shepherding you to a chic, fresh, tobacco infused, fruit-filled core. Using 30% whole bunches in the vinification, the wine was made from 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, reaching 13% alcohol with a pH of 3.72. The harvest took place September 19 to October 3 and, sadly, close to 25% of the vines were damaged by frost. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Carbonnieux – Medium bodied with smoke-glazed red fruits, soft and gentle textures and a captivating tobacco and cassis-oriented finish. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Carbonnieux Blanc – Medium bodied, fresh and refreshing, the yellow citrus fruits pop with acidity, the floral notes stand out and blast of honeysuckle and pomelo in the finish is just what the doctor ordered. 91 Pts
2017 Domaine de Chevalier – Smoke, incense, blackberry, dark cherry and a slight hint of fig in the background create an aromatic profile. This wine shows ripe fruits, sweetness, freshness and gentle tannins. In a perfect scenario the finish would be longer, but this is truly an outstanding wine that will shine with just a few years in the cellar. Made from a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, the wine reached 13.5% alcohol. The higher than usual percentage of Cabernet in the blend is due to damage from the frost. 93 – 95 Pts
2017 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc – Floral notes begin the experience, leading to the discovery of crushed stone and a generous offering of citrus. On the palate, this wine is fertile, fat and full of life and the finish is virtually unending with a mélange of pulpy citrus and bracing acidity. Made from a blend of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon, the wine reached 13% alcohol. The high percentage of Semillon is due to the frost. 97 Pts
2017 Clos Marsalette – Medium bodied with a sweet, smoky, black cherry character, the wine is forward, soft and earthy and will definitely drink well for at least a decade. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Clos Marsalette Blanc – Vanilla bean and pomelo, a bit of orange peel adds complexity to the nose. The wine is fresh, lively and ready to go with its bright, citrus character. 91 Pts
2017 Couhins – Soft, fresh red fruits, wafts of tobacco and smoke work perfectly with this medium bodied, elegant style. It will not only be enchanting upon release but it can age for a decade as well. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Couhins Lurton – Cherry pipe tobacco comes right up in this medium-bodied wine, with easygoing yet elegant tannins and a forward, early drinking approach. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Couhins-Lurtin Blanc – Fresh and floral, with a sweet, lemon peel character, the wine is a great example of an easy drinking, white Bordeaux blanc with character. 90 Pts
2017 deFrance – A forward, soft, fruity, early-drinking charmer with a cigar box feel and a tobacco rim, which mingles nicely with the juicy, red fruits. Drink this over the first decade of life. 87 – 89 Pts
2017 Gazin-Rocquencourt – Fresh and forward, a few years is all this medium-bodied prom queen is going to need before delivering all the soft, ready elegance expected from an intermingling of red fruits, smoke and a whiff of licorice. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Gazin-Rocquencourt Blanc – A topping of vanilla ice cream over freshly halved grapefruit, green apples with grating of lemon rind. There is ample freshness, vibrancy and lift, giving the wine a racy finish. 92 Pts
2017 Haut Bailly – A smoky bar around the time of the Third French Republic, alive with the scent of tar, tobacco, the essence of cassis and blackberry aperitifs and other herbal elixirs. Hints of flowers create the complex set of aromatics that bring us to this imaginary Café De La Paix, 1900. On the palate, the wine has polish, softness, energy and a lot of lift. Bright but not flashy, this is a classically styled vintage for the estate which will show well early yet possess the ability to age as well. The wine was made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc, reaching 13.2% alcohol with a pH of 3.74. The Grand Vin was produced from 50% of the harvest, which took place from September 13 to September 29. Unfortunately, Haut Bailly lost 30% of the crop due to the spring frost. 94 – 96 Pts
2017 Haut Brion – Ripe tannins and volume in all the right places, this wine tempts with verve and depth of flavor, length and complexity and gets up close and personal with the tannins. And in my overeducated and sometimes pompous opinion, the wine is going to require a minimum of 12-15 years of aging before it becomes civilized enough to drink. A blend of 53% Merlot, 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4.4% Cabernet Franc with a the harvest taking place August 31 to September 29, the wine reached 14.25% alcohol with a pH of 3.73 and represents 45% of the Grand Vin. 96 – 98 Pts
2017 Haut Brion Blanc – The perfume is limestone, quartz and shale crushed into gravel and harboring a basin of fresh sliced lemons. Full-bodied, garden-fresh and so deep you could have an existential crisis. This wine is concentrated, long, bright and focused on sweet, ripe, yellow citrus fruits. You will feel the finish of this sunny wine for nearly a minute. Made from a blend of 56.2% Sauvignon Blanc and 43.8% Semillon, the wine reached 14.3% alcohol with a pH of 3.22. 98 Pts
2017 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion – Silky and polished, elegant and energetic, this delight easily delivers its smoky, medium-bodied, cassis essence and spicy character and should be enjoyable with just a few years of bottle age. 92 – 94 Pts
2017 Le Clarte de Haut Brion Blanc – It takes a certain amount of determination but with some cajoling this wine reveals fresh, sweet, lively yellow and orange fruits, oily textures and a juicy, lemon-drenched finish. 93 Pts
2017 La Garde – Herbal notes with olives and fresh red fruits are found here. This medium-bodied wine offers soft tannins and an elegant finish that should drink well on release. 86 – 88 Pts
2017 La Garde Blanc – Freshly squeezed grapefruit, honeysuckle and vanilla pop right out of the glass. The wine is fresh, crisp and refreshing. 90 Pts
2017 La Louviere – Medium bodied with a tobacco overtones amidst the bright red fruits, this wine is everything you need plus a smoky edge. You should give this a few years in the cellar to soften and develop. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 La Louviere Blanc – Pomelo, green apples, vanilla, yellow citrus and flowers pop right up. Lively acidity gives the sweet, lemon-edged fruits lift and length. 92 Pts
2017 La-Mission-Haut-Brion – Subterranean ruby in color, this wine opens with lilies and night blooming Jasmine, black plum, cassis, a puff of smoke and a stroke of oak. Full-bodied and energetic but not frenetic, there is freshness, ripeness, assertive tannins and a succulent black currant hit in the finish. The vintage will require over a decade of aging. Created from a blend of 56% Merlot, 39.6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4.4% Cabernet Franc, the wine reached 14.1% alcohol with a pH of 3.86. The harvest took place September 4 through September 29 and represents 51% of the Grand Vin. 95 – 97 Pts
2017 La Mission Haut Brion Blanc – Strong minerality and a refreshing finish, this wine is juicy, energetic, full bodied, concentrated, richly textured and biting with its edgy citrus character. Made from a blend of 76.2% Semillon and 23.8% Sauvignon Blanc, the wine reached 14.3% alcohol with a pH of 3.23. 97 Pts
2017 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion – This is a medium/full-bodied production with smoky truffle, black cherry and leafy notes on the perfume. On the palate, the wine exhibits an invigorating spice, sweet fruits, ready tannins and a crispness to the cassis and dark chocolate finish. 91 – 93 Pts
2017 Larrivet Haut Brion – Red fruits and flowers on the nose create an attractive perfume. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied, soft, earthy and bright. Give this merely a few years in the cellar to smooth out the edges. 90 – 92 Pts
2017 Larrivet Haut Brion Blanc – The freshness is there and so is all the sweet, ripe, juicy, citrus fruits, flowers, honeysuckle and vanilla. Lively and exuberant, with loads of pomelo and vanilla all tempered with stony minerality and steely tannins. 93 Pts
2017 Le-Pape – An herb garden overflowing with thyme, the last bite of a cherry griotte and a thin veil of smoke excite the nose. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, gentle, fresh and elegant, leaning toward the red fruit side of the style range. There is sparkle and charm here but not much length. The wine was produced from a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Le Thil Comte Clary – My very first taste of 2017 Bordeaux, this wine jumpstarted my morning with licorice, mint, espresso, cocoa and dark red plums. Medium–bodied, smooth and lavish with a dusty time warp in the finish — I would drink this early. This year the addition of 5% young vine Cabernet Franc was blended with 95% Merlot. Currently the vineyard is planted with 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc — but the goal is to increase the newer vine to 35% in the future. 91 – 89 Pts
2017 Lespault-Martillac – Black cherry, thyme and smoke on the nose, moving quickly to a puppy-soft, finesse driven palate. Confrontational, curvaceous and medium-bodied, this wine is already easy to drink and will be very nice on release. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Lespault-Martillac Blanc – A dollop of honey, a squeeze of citrus and a tinge of tangy that rejuvenates the palette, this wine unveils a subtle, respectful line of stone which accents the juiciest of fruit. Due to the frost, there is a much higher percentage of Semillon than usual, giving the wine more fat and marbled qualities and a bit more sweetness. 91 Pts
2017 Malartic Lagraviere – The wine opens with the warm toke of a luxurious cigar brushed with graphite and rich with dark fruits. Silky textures, round and with verve on the palette, the wine is polished and juicy. Here, the wine is all fruit and lift with creamy but lively tannins. Using almost 40% less new oak than the previous vintage, the fruit demonstrates its charms early on. Produced from a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, the wine reached 13.5% alcohol. The higher portion of Cabernet Sauvignon is due to the frost, which damaged mostly Merlot vines. The harvest took place from September 14 to October 3. 92 – 94 Pts
2017 Malartic Lagraviere Blanc – Floral in nature with a fine dusting of vanilla bean, a slather of lemon curd and a thin slice of pineapple, this wine is fresh and alive with lift, sweetness and snappy yellow fruit prompting a crisp, incisive finish. The wine is made from a blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon, reaching 13% alcohol and will be aged in 50% new, French oak barrels. 94 Pts
2017 ChateauOlivier – Elegant, soft and polished, the fruits are fresh, lively and sweet. From start to finish there is a good energy radiating from the smoky red fruits. 88 – 90 Pts
2017 Olivier Blanc- Energetic yellow citrus notes pop with acidity. There is a touch of sweet honeysuckle, green apple and tropical fruits that add complexity. Lively and vibrant, the finish is loaded with just squeezed lemons. 92 Pts
2017 Pape Clement – Deep in color, the wine is floral with blackberry, boysenberry, licorice and espresso notes. Sweet with bright, crisp fruits, stylistically this is a bright vintage – tannin tensions paired with a fresh fruit edge. The wine was produced by blending 55% Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot, the wine reached 14.04% alcohol with a pH of 3.6. 95 – 97 Pts
2017 Pape Clement Blanc – Full, rich and deep, yet bright, zesty and fresh, this is rockin’ . The juicy, bright citrus is incredibly fresh. This is made even better with the honeysuckle, crushed rocks and vanilla accents that ride on top of all the ripe sweet, citrus and green apple notes. 97 Pts
2017 Rahoul – Leafy forest notes and red fruits combine well here. This wine is fresh, bright, polished, open and easy to drink with a candied red fruit character. 84 – 86 Pts
2017 Rahoul Blanc – Lemon peel, white peach and floral scents are paired with just squeezed citrus. A crisp personality makes this a great summer white wine. 89 Pts
2017 Smith Haut Lafitte – On the far edge of opaque with dark purple accents glimmering in a submerged cavern of blood red, espresso, smoke, black fruits, wet earth, licorice, truffle and dark chocolate introduce themselves instantly. Full-bodied, plump and glamorous with serious density, length and character, the tannins are ripe, but this wine is going to need time in the cellar even with all its ripe, supple fruits. The wine was made from a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, reaching 13.5% alcohol with a pH of 3.7. The harvest took place September 11 through September 29 and the Grand Vin represents just 40% of the harvest. Due to the frost, the yields here are very low – sadly, only 30 to 35 hectoliters per hectare. 95 – 97 Pts
2017 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc – With honeysuckle, lemons, pear, almonds and traces of vanilla bean, this wine is loaded with sweet yellow fruits, crushed rocks and vibrant acidity. Offering a buoyancy and a profundity of flavor with length and complexity, this wine was produced from a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Semillon. It reached 13.5% alcohol with a pH of 3.15. 97 Pts
2017 Smith Haut Lafitte Le Petit – With a nice nose of leaf, cassis, smoke and wet earth, the wine is fresh, ripe, sweet and juicy. The cassis has a nice, spicy leaning in the medium bodied, finish. The second wine of Smith Haut Lafitte is produced for export. The wine is made from a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and paired with 40% Merlot. 90-92 Pts
2017 Smith Haut Lafitte Le Petit Blanc – Sunny citrus fruits dominated by an extra splash of pomelo to begin. In the mouth, the wine is juicy and fresh with a zippy, sweet blast of a well-pared, sugared grapefruit in the finish. 91 Pts
2017 Smith Haut Lafitte Les Hauts de Smith – Dark red fruits, espresso, plums and smoke on the nose. The wine is elegant, fresh, forward and easy to taste, finishing with sweet, ripe, red fruits and a hint of oak in the soft textured, bright, endnotes. The wine was made from a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. 89 – 91 Pts
2017 Smith Haut Lafitte Le Hauts de Smith Blanc- Rocks, stone and pomelo with the skins of freshly picked lemons get the wine going. On the palate, there is an indelible stamp of sprightly and sweet, offering its pure lemon nucleus with ease. This wine is always made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 93 Pts
OK, that does it for the Left Bank,, we are moving to reports on Pomerol and St Emilion next. Those reports will be added to the site Monday morning.