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Full tasting notes: Pessac-Léognan, Graves & Bordeaux blanc sec

Although 2022 will never be remembered as a fabulous vintage for white Bordeaux, Colin Hay finds some ‘miraculous’ wines that exceeded his expectations ‘by some distance’. Here are his tasting notes. 

A note on the ratings

This year, as for the 2021 vintage before it, 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 evaluations and 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.

2022 is, of course, a far from entirely homogeneous vintage – and, consequently, my ratings span a considerable range (from the very top of the scale downwards). 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 (like 2021 and rather more so than in other 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.

Detailed tasting notes

Bordeaux blanc sec & Vin de France

  • 1 de Dourthe 2022 (Bordeaux blanc; 100% Sauvignon Blanc). Clean, fresh, intense, crisp and bright with nettles, redcurrant leaf, citron pressé and white grapefruit; a hint of elderflower. Rapier-like on the palate with a bright lift and lots of fresh fruit-charged forward momentum. Pure, precise and with decent intensity too. 89-91.


  • Aile d’Argent 2022 (Bordeaux blanc; 52% Sauvignon Blanc; 39% Sémillon; 8% Sauvignon Gris; 1% Muscadelle; pH 3.18; 13.7% alcohol; no malolactic fermentation; tasted with Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy at Mouton Rothschild). Bright, fresh, crisp and charged with fresh acidity and lift. The Sauvignon Blanc really sings here. A little salinity – almost a hint of salted peanuts alongside the melon, white pear and fifty shades of citrus. This exudes a gentle white florality and there’s a lovely sapidity in the mid-palate with encticing eddies, ripples and rivulets of fresh fruit juice – again melon and citron pressé. Lemon zest and grapefruit flesh. Less opulent, less rich and so more chiselled and more mineral-charged than it used to be. Good choices. I really like this. 92-94.


  • D’Aiguilhe blanc 2022 (Bordeaux blanc; 100% Sauvignon Blanc; a final yield of just 18 hl/ha 13.5% alcohol). Young vines here so little yield. Fresh. Bright, lifted, with good density and concentration. Nettles, lemon and lime cordial, impressive density but with lovely freshness – a little Sancerre in style. Low pH and lots of acidity. Nice structure, even a little touch of tannin. In a challenging vintage this is very fine. 91-93.


  • Anthoinette de Chateau Castéra 2022 (Bordeaux blanc; from a clay-sand-limestone terroir; 100% Sauvignon Blanc; 13% alcohol). Another first for me and another 100% Sauvignon Blanc, this time from Château Castéra. Aged in oak barrels of one previous use. Impressive, given the challenges of the vintage. Fresh, bright, crystalline and pure and less marked by the wood than many. This is sinuous in the mid-palate and has the tension that is often missing in this vintage. Lime cordial, lemongrass and passionfruit intermingle with orange zest and a little grapefruit flesh to produce a mid-palate that is tight, focused and precise. Promising and one to watch. 89-91.


  • Asphodèle de Château Climens (Bordeaux blanc; 100% Sémillon; early picked). Lovely leafy notes – white currant leaf and even a touch of white currant, gooseberry and gooseberry blossom, white and pink grapefruit. This is very fresh, bright and lifted, with its now habitual elderflower, elderberry and verbena notes. The fruit is bright and crisp. In the mouth is again very floral – with jasmine, acacia and mimosa. Tight to the spine and with a lovely shape over the palate, this is quite lithe and sinuous with that wonderful sense of vibrant energy. Rippling with freshness. The acidity is so beautifully structurally incorporated. Long and sapid. 92-94.


  • Blanc de l’Etampe 2022 (Bordeaux blanc; 100% Sauvignon Blanc). The first vintage of this I think and certainly the first time I’ve tasted it. Lots of barrel influence – I assume it was vinified in new oak. A Burgundian rendition of Sauvignon Blanc – a little like Chateau Closier’s blanc sec from Barsac. Full, rich and ample with lots of weight and substance, but tension and acidity just when it needs it. Peach flesh, apricot, a little guava and then the citrus notes – grapefruit confit and citron pressé. On the finish we return to the citrus elements, with just a hint of blood orange that extends the finale. Very lovely. I look forward to following this project as it unfolds. 90-92.


  • C de Sec de Chateau Closiot 2022 (Bordeaux blanc; 70% Sémillon; 30% Sauvignon Gris or thereabouts; vinified entirely in barrel with approximately 25% of them new). Wonderfully bright and engaging with a rather Burgundian use of oak, plenty of limpid fresh and juicy lime and zest, a little orange blossom and blood orange, beeswax and a slight hint of acacia honey; mimosa and verbena too. The oak is more refined than in earlier vintages and this is a very distinct wine that adds significantly to the stylistic diversity of Barsac as blanc sec. 92-94.


  • Les Champs Libres 2022 (Bordeaux blanc; 100% Sauvignon from Sancerre massale clones; tasted at Lafleur with Omri Ram). Perhaps the best white of the entire vintage for me. Blood orange, white and pink grapefruit. Remarkable intensity, so much more even than the 2016 tasted recently, you really see the evolution. So tight and structured and strapped to the spine like a calcaire red (Les Perrières for instance) – and with lots of similarities structurally. Nettles, red currant leaf and wonderful sapid, fresh, electric juiciness. Profoundly chiselled. Utterly fabulous. The best ever from here and a vintage in which this type of terroir just shines. So luminous. 95-97+.


  • Closiot 2022 (Bordeaux blanc sec; 60% Semillon; 40% Sauvignon Blanc). Produced from press juice and the younger vines. Vinification in tulip shaped concrete vats. Very pure and crystalline if without any great complexity. Quite rich but the bright acidity also seem to chisel and craft the structure from the inside. Sapid and juicy; seemingly there’s a little residual sugar that, here at least, energises the fruit – as in Ygrec. 89-91.


  • Cos d’Estournel blanc 2022 (Bordeaux Blanc; 74% Sauvignon Blanc; 26% Merlot; tasted at the property). Almost sauternes-esque in its aromatics – with very zingy fresh bright pink grapefruit and the proverbial fifty shades of citrus. Very vertical. Rich but never ample or fat with an upward pointed firehose of fresh citrus disrupting the richer melon, blood orange, white pear and jasmine of the mid-palate. Then on the finish a lovely plume of iodine and salty sea-spray. 93-95.


  • Le Cygne de Fonréaud 2022 (Bordeaux blanc). A wine I really admire and they’ve got this just right in this challenging vintage for Médocain blancs secs. There’s richness here, but crucially there’s a load of freshness and acidity to cope. Blood orange, mandarin peel, Granny Smith apple, citron pressé, lime cordial, grapefruit and a little nettle and beeswax on the nose. There’s an initial wave of freshness on the palate that prevents this even thinking about becoming fat, flat or flabby. Excellent decisions were clearly made here. 91-93.


  • ‘Elena’ Chardonnay de La Grace Dieu des Prieurs 2022 (Bordeaux blanc sec; 100% Chardonnay; vinified in vat with wild yeasts before élévage in new Radoux barriques developed specifically for white wine for around 10 months; 13.5% alcohol; Louis Mitjavile is the consultant oenologue). Fresh and floral, with nettles, marjoram, gooseberry flesh, elderberry and elderflower notes, a subtle hint of sweet saffron and loads of citrus elements – lemon confit, tarte au citron and white grapefruit. This is very fresh and citrus-charged for Chardonnay and the oak seems to play much more of a residual role, though as the wine unfolds in the glass and unfurls it comes through with a gentle hint of toasted brioche and also candlewax. Gracious, limpid and intensely juicy on the mid-palate with lovely tension and with always a little citrus note, as if held back expressly to cut the richness. Excellent. Perhaps my favourite vintage of this singular wine. 93-95.


  • Le Grand Verdus Grande Reserve 2022 (Bordeaux; 100% Sémillon; vinified in Burgundy barrels from 70 year old vines; a final yield of 25 hl/ha, so just 2000 bottles; 13% alcohol). Bright, plump, plush and full on the palate with white flowers, white pear, gooseberry, lime zest and nettles. The good news is that this actually gains in freshness with aeration which stops this from becoming a little flat and listless. There’s a lovely glassiness to the crystalline mid-palate and a pleasing pink grapefruit note on the finish. 90-92.


  • Grand Village blanc 2022 (Bordeaux blanc sec; 70 Sauvignon Blanc; 30% Sémillon; tasted at Lafleur with Omri Ram). Truly fabulous and excitingly aerial. Grapefruit zest and rind; melon and a hint of white pear; a lovely typical white florality; nettles and white currant leaf; lemon sherbet too. This is explosively fresh. A upward pointed firehouse of sapid, juicy, bright crunchy citrus and the radiant ripples from that. This is crystalline in the mid-palate but with radiating plumes of freshness rising up from below like convection currents. 93-95.


  • L’Exuberance blanc du Clos Cantenac 2022 (Bordeaux blanc). Bright, fresh and crisply fruited, with satsuma flesh, pink grapefruit, blood orange and mimosa prominently on display. Quite tight and taut, never hinting at any opulence or great breadth, the acidity and a trace of tannin helps keep this tightly bound and tense with a well-defined spine. Juicy and actually quite rich on the finish which is well-sustained. 90-92.


  • Lilium de Climens 2022 (Bordeaux blanc sec; 100% Sémillon; the first vintage of this experimental selection which is vinified in the same way as Asphodèle in inox but which will spend its élévage in wine globe on the lees). Even more vertical than Asphodèle itself, this seems to gain further in precision. Nettles, white current leaf, gooseberry blossom as before, but more lime and lime zest notes; mimosa and elderberry too. Tighter, tenser, with the fruit more tightly strapped to the spine, more structured and that really works – concentrating the wine and increasing the intensity and density. Even purer and more rapier-like. 93-95.


  • Lions de Suduiraut 2022 (Bordeaux blanc; 54% Sauvignon Blanc; 46% Sauvignon Blanc; tasted at Pichon Baron with Pierre Montégut). Very fine. Fresh and vertical. Ultra crisp. Croquant. Grapefruit. Citron pressé. A touch of verbena. Just enough acidity. Lovely choices. Superb value. 89-91.


  • Fourcas Dupré 2022 (Bordeaux blanc). Interesting. This, like Le Cygne de Fonréaud, remains very fresh but it’s almost as if, knowing freshness was going to be key, they’ve picked just before the optimal point – as this for me is perilously close to being slightly under-ripe. As a result it lacks the complexity of its near neighbour and is just a little tart on the finish. But, to be fair, I prefer this to many Médocain whites in this vintage – some of which are decidedly flat and slightly flabby (which is what, I surmise, they were trying to prevent). So, credit where credit’s due.


  • Le Nardian 2022 (Bordeaux blanc; 70% Sauvignon Blanc; 15% Semillon; 15% Muscadelle; pH 3.45; 14.8% alcohol). Exotic fruits, peaches, apricots, a little guava and passion flower and a touch of honey. Rich and ample but this doesn’t really have the acidity to control the weight and density. On the finish, too, one notices the elevated alcohol. The wood is not yet fully integrated. One senses the difficulty of making a wine like this in a vintage such as 2022.


  • Pagodes de Cos blanc (Bordeaux blanc; 57SB/43). This has a lovely grapefruit and lime zesty-ness. Lots of lift too. Confit melon. Elderflower and jasmine. Mimosa. Clear, pure fresh and very pure and precisely focussed. Good choices. No fatness but depth instead. Nutty with a touch of almond on the finish. 91-93.


  • Pavillon blanc de Château Margaux 2022 (Bordeaux blanc; 100% Sauvignon Blanc; a final yield of just 15 hl/ha; pH 3.18; 13% alcohol; 50% of the production made the selection for the final blend, the rest will form the basis of a new wine to be sold outside of en primeur and released later; tasted with Sébastien Vergne at the property). Limpid and glossy, with green highlights and quite viscous in the glass. Elderflower, elderberry, that lovely redcurrant leaf Sauvignon Blanc signature, all very fresh. This has fabulous intensity and a brilliant tight and slightly narrow frame accentuating both the sense of lift and of depth. Just a touch of exoticism – maybe passionfruit, but just a subtle hint. Fleur de sel. Sherbet with all the energy and lift that suggests. Rich but never fat or overly rich. Verbena. Grapefruit flesh, pulp and confit rind; citron pressé, tarte au citron, a little white pear perhaps but not much. So fresh, limpid and sapid. The freshest white of the vintage. 95-97.


  • Château Suduiraut Vieilles Vignes 2022 grand vin blanc sec (Bordeaux Blanc; from 55-year old vines; 55% Sémillon; 45% Sauvignon Blanc; aged in oak barrels, just 15% of which are new; this underwent no malolactic fermentation; tasted at Pichon Baron with Pierre Montégut). Fabulous. Confit melon, citron pressé. A little ginger. Wonderful almost shimmering and radiant freshness. Verbena. Grapefruit zest. Very textured and tactile; very pure and rippling. Lovely redcurrant leafiness. Tight, taut and structured. 92-94.


  • Châteay Suduiraut Pur Semillon 2022 (Bordeaux Blanc; from three old-wine plots of over 65 years; 100% Sémillon; this also underwent no malolactic fermentation; vinified and aged in oak barrels – just 3 of them; tasted at Pichon Baron with Pierre Montégut). Subtle. Blood orange. White pear, melon, citron pressé, confit lemon and lime cordial. Richer and broader, more complex than the Vieilles Vignes. A little rôti note from the oak. Floral – with jasmine and also a little hint of ginger (very Sauternes). Very impressive, but I marginally prefer the Vieilles Vignes in this vintage. 91-93+.

Graves (blanc)

  • De Chantegrive 2022 (Graves; 45% Sauvignon Blanc; 50% Sémillon; 5% Sauvignon Gris; a final yield of 26 hl/ha; 13.5% alcohol; tasted UGC). Gooseberries, guava, nettles, impressively fresh and quite refined on the nose, candlewax too and a little hint of straw. Lithe, with nice forward momentum at the start before this settles and broadens. But we get a second wave of freshness that helps. A fair bit of oak. Rich and with just enough acidity to keep this fresh.


  • De Ferrande 2022 (Graves; 45% Sémillon; 21% Sauvignon Blanc; 34% Sauvignon Gris; 13% alcohol; tasted UGC). Altogether fatter and richer on the nose, but there’s a subtle redcurrant leaf element that hints at freshness. White currant, jasmine, peach. Fresher than it seems from the nose and a nice sense of drive the palate. But a little monotone and ultimately I’d like even more freshness, the barrel influence (even though short) marks this a little too much. Just a bit flat on the finish too.


  • La Garde blanc 2022 (Graves; Dourthe). Searingly fresh on the nose like few wines in this vintage, with assorted fresh and confit citrus notes – tarte au citron above all. There’s jasmine and honeysuckle, a little gooseberry leaf too. Lithe, tender and tense despite the considerable breadth and amplitude with bright fresh grapefruit acidity cleansing the palate and cutting through all that richness. Very good indeed. This property seems to be on fire right now. Very juicy. 91-93+.


  • Rahoul blanc 2022 (Graves; 87% Sémillon; 13% Sauvignon Blanc; 12.9% alcohol; tasted twice, the second time at the UGC press tasting). Tasted alongside the La Garde this is much more conventional, but still nicely done. Tasted again at the UGC, I find it a little closed aromatically. Rich and full, but sufficiently tense and charged with fresh citrus notes to keep this in check and nicely balanced. White peach and pear, lemon cordial and a little confit grapefruit. Shorter than La Garde and with less zest but certainly one of the better wines of the appellation in this vintage. It just lacks a little complexity.

Pessac-Léognan (blanc)

  • Bouscaut blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 70% Sémillon; 30% Sauvignon Blanc; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Limpid with green highlights. Quite vertical on the nose with plenty of natural lift. Its characteristic blood orange and beeswax notes are much in evidence, with verbena and white pear and peach, a little Mirabelle too and a touch of saffron hinting at the heat of the summer. Quite oaky as it often is but lithe and crystalline with freshness on the finish coming from the clementine and, again, blood orange notes. Long and nicely tapering. This comes together on the palate rather well. 92-94.


  • Brown blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; tasted at Ripeau). Bright, crystalline, sparklingly energetic with a wonderful intense citrus zing to it – citrus pressé, homemade lemon juice, a little white grapefruit. Just incredibly fresh and energetic. A lovely wine. 91-93+.


  • Carbonnieux blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 65% Sémillon; 35% Sauvignon Blanc; a final yield of 30 hl/ha; 13.5% alcohol; tasted at the UGC Press). White flowers and assorted citrus elements – white grapefruit, lime cordial, citron pressé, yuzu, confit white melon and jasmine and mimosa. More complex aromatically. Very fresh in the mouth as is its style with a pleasing sense of tension across the palate; but perhaps just a little monotonix with beeswax and citrus notes dominating. Fine. 91-93.


  • Clos Marsalette 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 55% Sauvignon Blanc; 45% Sémillon; tasted at Canon-La-Gaffelière with Stephan von Neipperg). Crystalline with a bright vertical purity on the nose. White pear, citron pressé and homemade lemonade, white flowers, nettles. There’s more Sémillon in the final blend than usual here and it brings additional character – a certain richness and a depth to the freshness. Citrus notes, blood orange, even a hint of wild strawberry. Rich and compact, impressively so. 89-91.


  • Couhins blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 95% Sauvignon Blanc; 5% Sauvignon Gris; the first vintage certified organic). That lovely limestone terroir freshness in its characteristically vertical expression on the nose tells me immediately where you are. White grapefruit, gooseberry, blood orange, mandarin zest, nettle, white pear and peach, a little verbena. A touch of beeswax too. In the mouth this is impressively full and rich, more so than the nose prepares you for, and actually quite spicy too which I was not really expecting either – nutmeg, a suggestion of clove and a little wild sage – rather more, when retasted. But it’s pure and chiselled by the combination of freshness and the slight hint of limestone tannins. Quite distinct and rather lovely. Very saline and sapid on the finish rendering this very savoury. This has me craving oysters! 92-94.


  • Couhins-Lurton blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; from 4.9 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc on a terroir of sandy gravel over limestone; a final yield of just 17 hl/hl, so just 5000 bottles; 14% alcohol; tasted with Jacques Lurton at the property). Half of the crop was lost to frost here. A fabulous wine. Very expressive aromatically with lovely complexity. The little delicate white flowers, the saffron, the mimosa, the jasmine – a basket of flowers. The acidity and the sense of vivid freshness it imparts is the core of this wine. A little clementine zest, blood orange, melon and assorted citrus notes. Sumptuous texturally with a very clear exterior chiselled in the mouth by the acidity. This has a tight dense core and a beautiful shape. Very saline. Grippy; chewy and very fresh and refreshingly sapid on the finish. 93-95.


  • De Cruzeau blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; from 16 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc on a terroir of deep gravel; a final yield of 32 hl/hl; 13% alcohol; tasted with Jacque Lurton at Couhins-Lurton). Apples. Pears. Grapefruit. Yuzu. Complex and incredibly expressive aromatically. Sage. A pleasing salinity. A nice earthiness too. A little mimosa. A great diversity of fruit notes. Fat, rich, slightly sweet and saline sweet. Fluid. Bright. The oak influence is nicely moderated (the aging here is in large-format wood). Sapid. Very good. 90-92.


  • Domaine de Chevalier blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 70% Sauvignon Blanc; 30% Sémillon; pH 3.32; tasted at the UGC Press). Instantly recognisable as Domaine de Chevalier, reassuringly so. Aromatically expressive, with a little cordite and struck match, wild floral honey, mandarin, Mirabelle and nectarine, assorted white flowers (the ones I can never quite identify, but mimosa is one). On the palate this is rich and ample, a little spice from the oak, but also fresher herbal elements and a lovely crystalline limpidity, with eddies of juicy sapidity disrupting the tendency it might otherwise have for this to become a little monotone. Nice balance and I particularly like the almost tannic sense of grip on the finish. 93-95+.


  • De Fieuzal blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 55% Sauvignon Blanc; 45% Sémillon; 12.5% alcohol; not presented at the UGC press tasting). I look forward to tasting this as the first available opportunity.


  • De France blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 80% Sauvignon Blanc; 20% Sémillon; a final yield of 40 hl/ha; 13.8% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). In the comparative context of the Pessac flight at the UGC press tasting, I find this a little flat and listless – it lacks energy for me. There is freshness on the nose, on the attack and actually on the finish too – which is crucial – but it gets a little lost in the mid-palate rendering this somewhat one-dimensional. But I do like the lime and verbena note on the finish.


  • Larrivet Haut-Brion blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 86% Sémillon; 14% Sauvignon Blanc; a final yield of 33 hl/ha; 14% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Incense and candlewax – a little like stepping into a cold chapel on a hot sunny day – and then peach, apricot, nectarine and a little satsuma. This has impressive complexity. A lovely fresh acidic bite and grip on the attack and a slow release of exotic and citrus fruit juice – guava, passionfruit, satsuma again and a lovely salivating, zesty finish. The passionflower and passionfruit elements are delicious and distinctive! Very well done in the context of the vintage. On sparkling form in red and white. 93-95.


  • Latour-Martillac 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 50% Cabernet Sauvignon; 42% Merlot; 8% Petit Verdot; a final yield of 42 hl/ha; pH 3/73; IPT of 67; 14.5% alcohol; tasted twice, the second time at the UGC press tasting). Very good in the context of the vintage if a little closed on the nose at first – lots of citrus elements and clementine zest, a hint of beeswax. On the palate, this has a brilliant chiselled sense of lift from the structuring citrus acidity that really defines the personality of this wine. Forty-nine shades of citrus, a little hint of the finest vanilla pod, white pear, elderflower and mimosa. Very fresh, very bright, crisp and super sapid. Excellent. 93-95.


  • La Louvière blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; from 11.8 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc on a terroir of deep gravel with a little limestone and clay-limestone; a final yield of 33 hl/hl; 13.5% alcohol; tasted twice the first at Couhins-Lurton with Jacques Lurton, the second at the UGC press tasting). Enticing, if a little closed at first, with plenty of vertical lift (a signature of the limestone in the subsoil). Assorted freshly squeezed citrus fruits, nettles, blackcurrant leaf and a delicate wild florality. Aniseed and fennel seed. Gooseberry flesh. A little passion fruit. Creamily textured, especially at first. Mimosa, saffron. Gracious. Ample on the attack and then the same disrupting citrus (of the other André Lurton wines) – here citron pressé and tarte au citron. Rich and tender, lithe and again extremely sapid. Menthol notes on the finish. 91-93.


  • Malartic-Lagraviére blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; tasted at the UGC press tasting). More limpid and glossy and crystalline at this stage than most, this looks enticing … and it is! Vibrant, bright, crisp and beautifully lifted with cordite, flint, verbena, white melon, tarte au citron and confit lemon. Shimmeringly beautiful and remarkably fresh and energetic. The same on the palate – with lots of energy and momentum despite the breadth and amplitude and just when you think it’s going to get a bit rich, a wave of fresh citrus recharges the palate like a breaker reaching the shore. Appropriately enough, there’s a lovely hint of iodine and sea-spray here too. Slight menthol coolness on the finish. Excellent. 94-96.


  • Olivier blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 75% Sauvignon Blanc; 25% Sémillon; a final yield of 40 hl/ha; 13.7% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Fresh and herbal, with fennel, aniseed (a bit like La Louvière), grassy notes, nettles and redcurrant leaf alongside the citrus and apricot fruit. Fresh again on the palate where one notices more the passionflower and elderflower alongside the now familiar peach and apricot flesh elements. Nicely done. Fresh to the end and sapid, finishing on white grapefruit. Good progress here in recent vintages in both red and white. 92-94.


  • Pape Clément blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 63% Sauvignon Blanc; 35% Sémillon; 2% Muscadelle; a final yield of 30 hl/ha; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Exciting. Very vertical and dynamic, the nose resembling the bursting of a firework. Cordite, candlewax, passionfruit, white pear, a little toasted almond and verbena. Sparklingly crisp and vibrant with vertical thrusts of acidity. The palate is rich and full, with unctuous, plump fruit-filled peaches and nectarines with the subtle hint of tannin a little like the texture of peach skin, a little white grapefruit on the finish and subtle hint of that passionfruit again. Very pixilated, delineated and detailed and cool and sapid the entire length of the palate. Very impressive; the oak is much more moderate and that really helps reveal the refinement that comes from this supreme terroir. 94-96.


  • Picque Caillou blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 90% Sauvignon Blanc; 10% Sémillon; 13% alcohol; tasted at the UGC press tasting). Very impressive, even tasted after Pape-Clément! Bright, vertical, crisp and ultra-fresh on the nose – assorted citrus notes, lemon meringue pie and gooseberry. Those self-same fruits are almost perfectly transferred to the palate which is rich but totally fresh and taut and tense. An excellent wine in this vintage and likely to represent superb value. 91-93+.


  • De Rochemorin blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; from 16.5 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc on a terroir of deep gravel; a final yield of 35 hl/hl; 13% alcohol; tasted with Jacque Lurton at Couhins-Lurton). Richer and fatter than du Cruzeau. A vineyard that perhaps suffered a little more from the excesses of the summer. A little brioche. Small white flowers. Pink grapefruit; pomelo; blood orange – with more of each as it opens. Rich at first, but then the pink and white grapefruit and citrus disrupts the edge of the wine, producing an impressive sense of liveliness. Ripples of sapidity towards the finish. 90-92.


  • Smith Haut-Lafitte blanc 2022 (Pessac-Léognan; 90% Sauvignon Blanc; 5% Sémillon; 5% Sauvignon Gris; a final yield of 24 hl/ha; not presented at the UGC press tasting). A truly fabulous wine in the context of the vintage. Taut, tight, bright, fresh and with a lovely redcurrant leafiness alongside the pink grapefruit, blood orange, jasmine, nettle and white currant fruit. There’s also a fascinating confit melon and coconut husk note, a little hint of iodine and sea-spray and, very much in the background, the slightest suggestion of vanilla spice (more so in the empty glass). Great aromatic interest and complexity. This is big, bold and quite spicy in the mouth with great concentration that would usually signal trouble in this vintage – but which is here accompanied by a beautifully vivid, vibrant, sapid fresh juiciness which prevents even the slightest hint of fat. Racy, brilliantly engaging and lively in its vivid freshness, this is a triumph. 94-96+


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