Bordeaux 2021 tasting notes: Pessac-Léognan blanc, Graves blanc & Bordeaux blanc secs
The whites in 2021 are unique and a truly exceptional vintage that, for the most part, exceeds 2017 in quality, writes Bordeaux correspondent Colin Hay. Here are his full tasting notes on the whites of Pessac-Léognan, Graves & Bordeaux blanc secs.
Before starting on the tasting notes, a note on the ratings.
This year, for the first time, I have decided to provide an indicative rating for each wine alongside the published comment. All such comments and ratings are necessarily subjective (they cannot be anything else, when one thinks about it). I would urge you to look at the two together and, if anything, to privilege the comment over the rating. My aim is more to describe the wine in the context of the vintage, the appellation and recent vintages of the same and similar wines, rather than to judge the wine per se.
The ratings, of course, reflect my subjective relative preferences between wines. Your palate is likely differ from mine. I hope that my comments give you at least enough information to be able to recalibrate my ratings and, in so doing, to align them more closely to your palate. To give an example: if the idea of the ‘new classicism’ leaves you cold, you may well wish to discount the (typically high) ratings I have given to wines described in such terms.
2021 is, of course, a highly heterogenous vintage – and, consequently, my ratings span a considerable range (from the very high to the very low). I see little interest, either for the consumer or the producer, in publishing very low scores. Consequently, I have decided not to publish scores for wines that I have rated below 90 (here the range 89-91). Where no rating is published, the wine would have scored 88-90 or below.
Finally, élevage is likely to be very important in determining the quality in bottle of these wines (rather more so than in recent vintages). I am no soothsayer and cannot predict how that will turn out. All en primeur ratings should be treated with caution and taken with a certain pinch of salt. That is never more true than it is in this vintage.
Full tasting notes & ratings
- Aile d’Argent (Bordeaux blanc; 45% Sauvignon Blanc; 19% Sauvignon Gris; 36% Sémillon). I’ve not always been the biggest fan of this. Bitingly fresh, with a lovely citrus pressé note on the nose and again on the attack. White flowers, jasmine and orange blossom, fleur d’oranger, with a touch of gooseberry, gooseberry leaf and pink grapefruit rind on the finish. This is excellent. Long, very fresh and tense. 91-93.
- Les Champs Libres (Bordeaux blanc; 100% Sauvignon Blanc – massale selection from Sancerre; from a vineyard of 1.2 hectares on clay-limestone on the plateau of Louima; vinified in oak barrels, 75% of which are new; around 4000 bottles). Rather closed at first and slow to reveals its glories. Complex, cool, composed, multi-layered – and staggeringly impressive. Freshly squeezed lime, a twist of zest, indeed, tarte au citron vert (presumably such a thing exists); white flowers and grapefruit pith. This is nutty too. Glorious texturally and with lots of lift. This is structured by its salinity and its acidity which interweave to produce little waves and ripples, gliding around the mid-palate. The freshness from the acidity is fantastically well-incorporated and distributed across the entire palate, but it still gathers on the fabulously juicy, sapid rolling finish. Crystalline, intensely detailed and highly pixilated, this is exceptional and the product of very classy wine-making. 94-96.
- Cos d’Estournel blanc (Bordeaux blanc; 71% Sauvignon Blanc; 29% Sémillon; 12.3% alcohol; pH 3.13; aging in oak barrels, 8% of which are new). More serious and a little more closed than Pagodes blanc – and more subtle too, with a seamless sense of integration and harmony on the nose. I love the crushed rock minerality. The Sémillon is more evident here – bringing nettles and melon and lime and citron pressé and sorbet notes; lily of the valley too. Texturally quite viscous and so amazingly intense – yet charged with tension too. Wow! There is brilliant concentration and richness but this is also so vibrant and vivid, with great interest, detail and pixilation. The acidity provides fantastic vertical lift – with little juicy fountains of citrus breaking up the breadth, depth and density – but it’s all there. Fabulous texturally, this is a big canvas wine with a brilliantly chewy finish. The best Cos blanc I think I’ve tasted – with that lovely waft of sea-spray and iodine that fixes this as from the Northern Médoc (one can almost hear the Atlantic breakers). 93-95.
- L’Exuberance blanc (Bordeaux Supérieur blanc; from old vine Sémillon planted at high density on a limestone plateau terroir in Targon in the Entre-deux-Mers; cold maceration and vinification, 60% in steel and 40% in oak, with 25% new oak; lot of lees contact; around 2500 bottles produced). Viscous but not broad-framed; quite tightly structured, producing focussed tension and a pleasing sense of evolution in the mouth. This is fresh and bright with crushed lemon and lime, confit melon and white floral notes, a hint of fresh ginger, vanilla and linden. Really vibrant with a lifted freshness and verticality. The use of oak is restrained and this has a lovely zingy sapid citrus finish. 91-93+.
- Grand Village blanc (Bordeaux blanc; 73% Sauvignon Blanc; 27% Sémillon; from a vineyard of 1.8 hectares on clay-limestone; vinified in oak barrels, 50% of which are new). A wine that seems always to exceed one’s inflated expectations for it. Very fresh, bright and energetic – lithe and engaging, but with plenty of substance and texture too. Linden, jasmine, blackcurrant leaf and a hint of nettle. In this mouth this gives a very palpable sense of density and concentration; but at the same time it is fabulously vibrant and intense. Crystalline, dynamic and texturally exciting – with fireworks of freshness. The density and richness is constantly broken up by the purity and energy of the fruit. Granny smith apple; white peach; the crunchiness of fruit skins; confit grapefruit and a little hint of spice and cracked white pepper. The salinity and sapidity dance on the long finish. Impressively refined; serious wine-making and great terroir combined – in short, just what one expects from Baptiste and Julie Guinaudeau. 92-94.
- Le Grand Verdus Grande Réserve (Bordeaux blanc; 100% Sémillon; a final yield of just 25 hl/ha; pH 3.18; just 1300 bottles). Made from pure 70-year old Sémillon on a clay-gravel terroir at Sadirac in the Entre-deux-Mers, this is bright, fresh and highly expressive of its varietal, its terroir and the vintage. Quince, lime, a hint of honey (though no sweetness), beeswax as well as jasmine, mandarin and orange blossom, this is bone dry with absolutely no hint of residual sugar and it’s supped up very well the little new oak that it sees. I love the stoney-flinty minerality. Long on the finish and with a nice dense, lithe and limpid mid-palate, this is highly recommended if you can find a bottle or two. 89-91.
- La Loubière blanc (Bordeaux blanc; 79% Sauvignon Blanc; 12% Sauvignon Gris; 9% Muscadelle; from a vineyard of just 4 hectares in Montussan on sandy clay, the vines are of an average age of 40 years; 5400 bottles produced; aged in amphora and 1-year old barrels). From Vignobles Jade and, like all of their wines in this vintage, incredibly bright, fresh, crisp and crystalline. Just the second vintage of this and my first introduction to it. A fascinating floral element – a touch of orange blossom, jasmine and mimosa – with confit lime and white grapefruit. More of the same on the palate with a searing citrus freshness and just a hint of fresh ginger. With a little more air, we find passion fruit and passion flower notes too. Rather lovely and very distinctive. I’m not always a fan of Muscadelle, but it brings added complexity here; this might be a little strict without it. Lovely grapefruit pith notes on the long finish. 89-91.
- Lions de Suduiraut (Bordeaux blanc; 52% Sémillon; 48% Sauvignon Blanc; 13.5% alcohol; 3.9 TA; aged for 6 months, half in steel and half in oak barrels, a half of which in turn are new; no residual sugar). A new identity for Suduiraut’s excellent blanc sec. Bright, lithe, elegant and sinuous with lovely lemon and lime notes and plenty of florality. White grapefruit pith too. So bright and fresh. A lovely wine that expresses so well the personality of the vintage. The freshness of the vintage helps carry and support the Sémillon. I love the stony minerality on the finish. Blanc sec-xy! 89-91.
- Blanc de Lynch Bages (Bordeaux blanc; 79% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Sémillon and 6% Muscadelle; 12.98% alcohol; pH 3.27; aging in oak barrels, 50% of them new). If I’m honest I’ve not always been the greatest admirer of this wine, but in 2021 and, like much else at Lynch Bages, it shines. Bright, lively and lifted on the nose, with verbena, nettles, wild white flowers, gooseberry flesh, white peach and pink grapefruit, this is brilliantly fresh and very enjoyable. 91-93.
- Le Nardian (Bordeaux blanc; 70% Sauvignon Blanc; 20% Sémillon; 10% Muscadelle; 12.5 % alcohol; pH 3.56). Lovely freshly cut pineapple and apple, guava and lime cordial notes. Rich and silkily textured. Lithe and quite ethereal. Dense and with actually only just enough acidity to cut the fat. There’s a nice tension in this fresher vintage between the Muscadelle and the Sauvignon Blanc. 89-91.
- Pagodes de Cos blanc (Bordeaux blanc; 85% Sauvignon Blanc; 15% Sémillon; just 12% alcohol; pH 3.09; aging in oak barrels 8% of which are new). Smokey. Very salty – with the tell-tale iodine sea-spray of the Northern Médoc. Confit melon, grapefruit flesh and pith, intense white flower elements as well as the more gentle jasmine component; a little fresh ginger. White peach skin and lime pressé too. Lovely texture; deep and rich; great tension. Exciting. Vertical. Big and bold and fabulously fresh and sapid. 90-92.
- Pavillon blanc de Chateau Margaux (Bordeaux blanc; 100% Sauvignon Blanc; 13.2% alcohol; pH 3.04; total acidity 5.87; this represents 52% of a harvest largely saved from frost by Chateau Margaux’s sprinkler system). Harvested in perfect conditions. Sprightly, bright, lifted, intensely energetic with lovely complex white floral notes. Fifty shades of citrus and brilliant confit melon and grapefruit pith elements too. Floral – wisteria, jasmine, passion flower and orange blossom. Incredibly textured with a notably vertical acidity that produces plumes of fruity freshness. Fabulous viscosity and concentration but with no heaviness. There’s a lovely touch of fleur de sel on the finish. This is lively and intensely dynamic yet at the same time cool, calm, relaxed and natural despite all that energy. Tense and engaging, lithe and luminous, with a fabulous rollercoaster of citrus pressé and saline-infused sapidity on the finish. Wonderful and, alongside, La Mission, the white wine of the vintage for me. 96-98+.
Vin de France
- Clos Dubreuil Chardonnay (Vin de France; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5% alcohol; from a tiny vineyard of 1.27 hectares with a southern exposition on the upper slopes of the St Emilion plateau at St Christophe des Bardes). One of just two St Emilion Chardonnays (though another is on the way), this is clearly made for the inner iconoclast in all of us! And it’s rather good too. Straw, with green highlights. Wonderfully fresh and lifted on the nose (the signature of argilo-calcaire St Emilion Chardonnay, I guess!). We could actually be in Chablis – until, that it, one puts this in one’s mouth (it’s all a question of texture). On the palate there is great concentration, density and viscosity, but also lots of energy. This is quite naturally sweet and rich and it needs all the freshness of the vivid verbena-scented lime, lemon, quince and green apple fruit to cut the fat. Yet despite the opulence, the fruit is strapped quite close to the spine of the wine, accentuating the sense of viscosity in the mouth. Searingly fresh, with a lovely stony and saline minerality and just a hint of crumbly chalky tannin that helps structure the finish. Impressive, distinctive and, above all, slightly mischievous. Drop this into a blind tasting and you’re guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of the traditionalist. 91-93.
- Durfort Vivens Blanc de Noir (Vin de France; 50% Muscadelle; 50% Cabernet Franc; 12,5% alcohol; in bottle already around 800 bottles, largely for the restaurant trade). Distinctive, interesting and unusual on the nose. Peach and apricot skin; mirabelle; saffron, a little hint of potter’s clay but also an odd slightly lactic note. On the palate this comes together well, with bright citrus, redcurrant, grape-skin and black currant leaf notes and a lovely salinity and sapidity. Texturally, this is sinuous, lithe and tender. Impressively dense and viscous in the mid-palate but always remaining racy and fresh. A wine super-charged by both its acidity and its salinity. I’m keen to see how this evolves. 89-91.
- Grace Dieu des Prieurs Chardonnay (Vin de France; 100% Chardonnay; vinified and aged entirely in new Radoux Blend barriques, though with different degrees of toast; tasted at the chateau and already assembled). Very distinctive on the nose – saffron, lilies, jasmine, passionflower, but also lime, lime zest and tarte au citron. Odd though it seems to say, this is quite Chassagne-Monrachet-esque, with great natural depth and richness, here beautifully punctuated by the fresh, bright, tense acidity and lift of the vintage. The richness brings out notes of toasted brioche with melted beurre au fleur de sel, but there is also loads of compensating freshness – exotic fruits (notably passionfruit and guava), kiwi fruit, confit melon, orange blossom and verbena. A wine of great volume and amplitude; yet the overall impression is of bright lift and radiant energy. A lovely touch of fleur d’oranger on the long and racy finish. Exciting and highly original, even if the enjoyment of this wine requires a certain suspension of disbelief (Chardonnay? From St Emilion?). The greatest success to date of this esoteric cuvée. 93-95.
Graves & Pessac-Léognan blanc
- Bouscaut blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 70% Sémillon; 30% Sauvignon Blanc; 13.3% alcohol; a final yield of 20 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Still cloudy. Creamy, richer, less obviously fresh than many of the Pessac whites at the UGCB tasting; markedly floral, with assorted white flowers. A little closed. Another wine with a fruit signature somewhat reminiscent of Sauternes – here a ringer perhaps for Sigalas-Rabaud, with lots of (white) floral elements and the mark of Sémillon. There is a little less oak than in the past. Delicate, slender, lithe and sinuous. This will need a little time but there are nice elements here and also a sense of harmony and poise. Ultra-fresh on the finish but this never shades towards tartness. Concentrated lemon sorbet notes on the slender, elegant finish. 91-93.
- Carbonnieux blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 67% Sauvignon Blanc; 33% Sémillon; 13.5% alcohol; a final yield of 40 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Green highlights. Iodine, oyster shell, pure lemon and lime confit notes; a lovely delicate herbal and leafy component too – redcurrant leaf and verbena. Bright and vertical on the attack with plenty of lift (from the stunning Sauvignon Blanc). Fresh and vibrant and charged with energy. This glides and glistens as it unfurls over the palate. A lovely gathered fresh lifted bright finish along the very top of the palate; very sapid and juicy and ultra-refreshing. Pure and precise but energetic. The best Carbonnieux blanc in a while. Tender. 91-93+.
- La Clarté de Haut-Brion (Pessac-Léognan; 56% Sémillon; 43% Sauvignon Blanc; 13.5% alcohol; aging in oak barrels, 46% of which are new; tasted at La Mission Haut-Brion). In a stunning new translucent bottle. Picked on perfect maturity. This has a lovely vertical open aromatic nose – very fresh and lifted – with lime essence, lime confit and linden, a little jasmine and honeysuckle and a touch of orange and grapefruit oil and zest. Sinuous and lithe, rich and dense, floaty and exciting. Bright, succulent and charged with fresh citrus juice to cut the richness. Great balance and harmony. 92-94.
- Couhins Lurton blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 100% Sauvignon Blanc; tasted at the UGCB press tasting and at the property with Jacques Lurton; small production, alas, due to considerable frost damage).This was picked in successive tries in the vineyard to optimise ripeness and, appropriately enough, seems almost exotically Sauternes-esque in its fruit profile. Grapefruit, gooseberry and blackcurrant leaf, passionfruit and passionflower, jasmine and citron pressé notes vie for one’s attention. There is great vertical lift here and impressive dynamism. This is bright, aerial, tight and electric – charged by its exciting, explosive freshness. There’s almost a popping candy element which brings fabulous precision and pixilated brilliance to the mid-palate. I love it. Best ever from here. 92-94.
- Domaine de Chevalier blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 70% Sauvignon Blanc; 30% Sémillon; 13.5% alcohol; a final yield of 40 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Interestingly, in quite an aromatically expressive vintage, this is tight and closed on the nose (almost certainly a good sign at this stage). Gentle, delicate notes of quince and assorted citrus elements, orange blossom, jasmine, green tea (just a hint) and perhaps a waft of grapefruit and orange pith slowly emerge. This is lithe and crystalline in texture. It is floral too, with white spring flowers – most obviously lily of the valley – and a marked herbal verbena element too. Gloriously textured and beautifully composed; so deep and layered with gliding, dancing sheets of silk and satin. So deep, so long and so profound, yet giving no impression of weight, this exudes refinement, purity and elegance. It glistens and glides in its pixilated near perfection. Undoubtedly one of the wines of the vintage. 95-97.
- De Fieuzal blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 65% Sauvignon Blanc; 35% Sémillon; 12.8% alcohol; a final yield greatly reduced by frost; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Classy. Crystalline in appearance with enticing green highlights. Quite austere in a way – and less oak on the nose than in recent vintages; though it builds. White flowers and the sensation of being in a garden. Crunchy apple skin and 50 shades of citrus; quince; and a striking flinty minerality. Lovely wild herbal elements too. Bright and racy, the wood adding a touch of spice that is very pleasant. A light and lovely natural sweetness that is very ‘de Fieuzal’ and that works very well with the bright acidity. Racy, fresh and with lots of tension, this is brilliant in both senses of the term. I love the long slender finish. 92-94.
- De France blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 80% Sauvignon Blanc; 20% Sémillon; 13% alcohol; a final yield of 22 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Somewhat dull in the glass and the échantillon is almost a little petillant. Fresh, pure and cleanly focussed but this lacks complexity and I find it a little thin in the mid palate. Crunchy apple-skin and freshly squeezed lemon; with a pleasing blackcurrant leaf note too. I find it just a little too acidic, almost tart, on the finish. Overall, I quite like this and I suspect it’ll be rather good value, but it doesn’t really excite me. 89-91.
- Haut-Brion blanc (Pessac-Léognan 57% Sémillon; 43% Sauvignon Blanc; 13.7% alcohol; aging in oak barrels, 44% of which are new; tasted at La Mission Haut-Brion). Full and rich and wonderfully charged with grapefruit and a little mango. Richer than La Mission Haut-Brion and deeper too, the freshness a little less charged and electric; but wonderful all the same. The depth and structure are a little more evident and classical here. There are delightful verbena and linden elements, and little white spring flowers, a touch of fleur d’oranger and that characteristic sprinkling of fleur de sel on the finish. With a little grip from the tannins and the sapid and saline flourish on the finish, this is utterly fabulous. One is left with a seemingly eternal line along the very top of the palate. Beautiful and supremely harmonious, elegant and complete. 96-98.
- Larrivet Haut-Brion blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 78% Sauvignon Blanc; 2% Sémillon; 13.3% alcohol; a final yield of 29 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Confit melon and lemon with more evident spicy note than in many of the UGCB wines – nutmeg and even a hint of cinnamon, cloves too and a little fresh ginger (unusual but lovely). This maybe lacks a little density, but it makes up for that with its lithe and sinuous mid-palate. Almost a hint of residual sugar. Even more floral than most, with a lovely subtle freshness that creates an even greater sense of tension against a fruit that’s more exotic and slightly sweeter. This is a little different than the others but both rather interesting and rather good. 91-93+.
- Latour Martillac blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 57% Sauvignon Blanc; 43% Sémillon; a final yield reduced by significant frost damage; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Pronounced green highlights and still a little cloudy at this nascent stage. Floral and herbal on the nose, with lime zest and juice alongside wild herbs – thyme – and white spring flowers. Tender; delicate; juicy; lovely. There is a brilliant pick-up on the attack and this is charged with brightness, vibrancy and energy. Yet at the same time, it is subtle and refined, the citrus notes building and seemingly concentrating towards a high and lifted fresh and intensely sapid crescendo. Very nicely done. Long. This almost hints at tartness – and plays with that – but stays all the while just the right side of the wire. Lots of tension. Super! 92-94.
- La Louvière blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 100% Sauvignon Blanc; 13.5% alcohol; a final yield of 25 hl/ha; aging in oak barrels for 10 months on full lees with batonnage; tasted at the UGCB press tasting and at the property with Jacques Lurton). Denser, more compact and more viscous than most. Rich and rolling, big and more opulent than most of the wines at the UGCB press tasting; very broad-shouldered in its style; not quite the refinement of some, but that’s its signature and I like and respect that. Quite sinuous nonetheless (the vintage talks). This rolls rather than dances; more svelte and velvety rather than silky (due to the flesh and density). Concentrated citrus notes, quince, confit lemon, lemon meringue pie and tarte au citron too, with a little hint of smoke. Very long and lingering. There is tension everywhere from the attack to the finish – a pronounced sensation of structural freshness. This is crystalline despite its density, richness and depth. A lovely pure and precise if still broad citrus finish and a nice touch of quince. 91-93.
- Malartic Lagravière blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 89% Sauvignon Blanc; 11% Sémillon; 13.4% alcohol; a final yield of an impressive 49.5 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Really super. Relatively easy to pick blind, even if the style has evolved quite a bit in the last few vintages (with more refinement and less oak than in the past). This is impressively crystalline, clear and luminous. The oak, which is still part of the identity, is (a little like Smith Haut-Lafitte) very judiciously used, reinforcing a natural spiciness. This is very fresh, wild and herbal and leafy too – with green tea and camomile alongside verbena and lime and lime zest; a bit of white melon too, even a hint of apricot skin. There’s a lovely structure to this – built around a tight core of freshness. Energetic yet also very attractive, soft and delicate with loads of tension and detail. Certainly the best recent vintage I’ve tasted from here, this is a wine now on a steep upward trajectory. 93-95.
- La Mission Haut-Brion blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 55.2% Sémillon; 44.8% Sauvignon Blanc; 14.1% alcohol; aging in oak barrels, 53% of which are new; tasted at the property). Cool and composed, a touch of gooseberry flesh and skin alongside the lemon and lime confit elements; crushed rock; assorted tiny white flowers. Wow! Immense. So full in the mouth, big boned and yet so delicately constructed, with fabulous precision and massive detail. But it is also completely mouth-filling. The acidity and freshness and the dynamism it impacts is remarkable. Utterly brilliant and brilliantly tense. There’s a lovely element of tarte au pamplemousse (think tarte au citron made with grapefruit) on the finish. Really thrilling and very special – undoubtedly one of the wines of the vintage. 96-98+.
- Olivier blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 80% Sauvignon Blanc; 20% Sémillon; 13.5% alcohol; a final yield of 40 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Rich and fatter than most though with all of the vintage’s signature freshness; slightly sweeter too in a pleasingly natural way on the palate. Maybe less complex than some and with less of the characteristic florality of the vintage. Lots of citrus elements – 25 shades of lemon (if not perhaps the full 50). Lovely sapidity arrives quite early, giving structure and length. Just a little lacking in concentration in comparison to some. But this is an impressive bottle of wine in the making from an up-and-coming estate. 91-93.
- Pape Clement blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 75% Sauvignon Blanc; 25% Sémillon; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Rich and more hedonistic on the nose than the other white Pessac presented at the UGCB tasting. This has been reined back and tamed a little in comparison with its former self. Full, plump, quite broad-shouldered but with lovely interesting rolling and rippling sapidity illuminating the (considerable) structure. That said, this is actually very slightly lacking in concentration on the finish – which fades a little more quickly than you imagine from the attack and the mid-palate. But this is certainly complex, distinctive and recognisable – even if one has the slight sense that the change in style here over recent vintages is, as yet, still a work in progress. I don’t yet have a very clear sense of the new identity of this wine. Nice herbal and verbena, yuzu and fresh ginger notes on the finish. Less spicy and less oaky than it used to be. Overall, this is a little difficult to read en primeur – I’ll be keen to re-assess from bottle. 92-94.
- Picque Caillou blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 90% Sauvignon Blanc; 10% Sémillon; 13% alcohol; a final yield of 33 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). Very fresh on the nose, with confit melon, lemon and white grapefruit signalling the intensity of each on the palate. This is, in turn, pure, precise, focussed and crystalline. Bright and texturally very energetic; not perhaps the most complex or layered but this is a lovely very authentic expression of its terroir. I love the minerality which is very present on the finish. Reliably brilliant value and highly recommended. 91-93+.
- Smith Haut Lafitte blanc (Pessac-Léognan; 90% Sauvignon Blanc; 5% Sémillon; 5% Sauvignon Gris; 13% alcohol; a final yield of just 24 hl/ha; tasted at the UGCB press tasting). White grapefruit confit and sorbet notes on the pure, racy, intense nose; also oyster shell and a lovely stony, flinty minerality. Quince; blackcurrant leaf; wild herbs; green tea; root ginger too. Really intense, really deep, a lovely mix of spicy exoticism and fresh, bright, crisp quince and citrus elements. Very long with a lovely tapering and sapid finish – with little ripples of citrus sapidity. Another super wine from Smith. 95-97.
See here for db’s en primeur vintage report, with appellation-by-appellation reviews on Margaux, St Julien, Pessac-Leognan & Graves, St Estephe & Haut-Medoc rouge and blanc, Pauillac, Pomerol, St Emilion and Sauternes.