jueves, 18 de abril de 2013

Château La Garde Pessac-Léognan 2009, France


- Winery: Château La Garde is a rising star of the  Pessac-Léognan wine appellation owned by the dynamic Bordeaux negociant company Dourthe-Kressman. It is a medium-sized property with 47 hectares of vineyards in, planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.

The Cabernet-dominated red wines are soft, well structured and packed with smooth, ripe fruit which makes them very attractive young, though they also possess good medium-term cellaring potential. The red wines display the true Graves minerality underneath an exuberant cassis-and-plums aroma.

Albeit predominantly a red wine vineyard, it does have at its heart a small patch of land which is more suited to the production of white wine, from which a mere 1,000 cases of exquisitely-scented, vibrant white Bordeaux is produced each year.

What is unique to La Garde is the presence in the vineyard of a parcel of rare Sauvignon Gris, a close cousin of the Sauvignon Blanc but a varietal which yields a slightly richer, rounder character to the finished blend. 50% of the wine comes from this grape and the touch of complexity it imparts lifts this wine above most of its competitors.

The investment made by Dourthe in both vineyard and cellar is now beginning to bear fruit, both figuratively and literally, in the form of exceptional wines of both colours, and any re-assessment of the Pessac-Léognan classification  would surely see La Garde feature amongst the Classified Growths.

- Tasting notes: "Big and chunky with plenty of rich blackcurant fruit and ripe under lying structure. Plummy and round in the mouth, a wine that will give lots of easy pleasure". tanners-wines

- Price: £28.00


Pessac-Léognan is a wine growing area and Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, in the northern part of the Graves region of Bordeaux. Unlike most Bordeaux appellations, Pessac-Léognan is equally famous for both red and (dry) white wines, although red wine is still predominant. It includes the only red-wine producer outside the Haut-Médoc classified in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, the premier cru Château Haut-Brion, and also includes all of the châteaux listed in the 1953/59 classification of Graves. These classed growths account for a third of the wine produced in Pessac-Léognan.

- Geography: Pessac-Léognan lies on the left bank of the Garonne. It is immediately south of the city of Bordeaux (with a small portion to the west): indeed some of the northern vineyards of Pessac-Léognan are completely surrounded by the housing estates of Bordeaux, as a result of the city's southward expansion. It consists of 8 communes: (from north to south) Mérignac, Talence, Pessac, Gradignan, Villenave-d'Ornon, Cadaujac, Léognan and Martillac. A significant part of the area is forested. It includes 1580 hectares of vines. The soil is very gravelly.

- History: Pessac-Léognan has a long wine-making history. Red wine from this region (and the rest of Graves) was the wine originally loved by the English as claret, during the 300 years that Aquitaine was under English rule, from 1152 to 1453. The area includes the oldest named property in Bordeaux, Château Pape Clément, founded by Pope Clement V in 1306. In the mid-seventeenth century, Château Haut-Brion became the first château of international renown, being praised by Samuel Pepys in 1663, while the Médoc was still swamp.

However, the appellation of Pessac-Léognan is relatively recent, dating to 1987. Before then, the area was part of the Graves AOC, and known informally as Haut-Graves.

- Red wine: As with the Médoc to the north, Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant grape, but a somewhat greater proportion of Merlot is typically used in the blend. Cabernet Franc is also used, with small amounts of Petit Verdot and Malbec. Styles vary more widely than in most Bordeaux AOCs, but typical flavours are blackcurrant and cedar, and the wines are often described as 'earthy'.

- White wine: Sauvignon blanc and Sémillon are the grapes used, usually blended. The wine is typically fermented in barrels at a low temperature. Nectarine is a typical flavor when the wines are young, maturing (over 7–15 years) into flavours of nuts, honey and custard. They are said to be among France's greatest whites.

- Food matching: The traditional pairing for reds is with roast lamb, although they are flexible enough to have with ham, beef or game. The whites complement fish and seafood.


Graves is a sub-region of the Bordeaux wine region in south-western France. The name is also used in the appellation AOC Graves, which applies to both red and white wines. The name is derived from the area's gravel soils, which help to create the distinctive profile of Graves wines - particularly those made from Cabernet Sauvignon. While Merlot grows well in the heavier clay of places such as Saint-Emilion. Cabernet Sauvignon performs very well in free-draining gravel and sand.

Graves is seen as the birthplace of Bordeaux's high-quality red wines. It was here that the region first gained its reputation, as early as the 14th century - hundreds of years before Dutch wine merchants and producers drained the marshes of the Medoc.

The prestige of the Graves name was somewhat reduced in 1987, when the new Pessac-Leognan appellation was created. It was carved out of the northern end of Graves, encompassing its most respected producers.

AOC Graves is the key appellation here. Red wines must be made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec or Petit Verdot, while white wines must be produced from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, and reach a minimum alcohol level of 11%.  

Graves also produces sweet white wines under the appellation Graves Supérieures. These are made from the same white grapes as those listed above, but have a much higher level of natural residual sugar. This appellation does not cover the famous and more prestigious wines of Sauternes and Barsac, or the sweet whites of Cerons. They are nestled within the boundaries of the Graves sub-region, but are independently recognized because of the high quality of their sweet white wines.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Graves has proved that even without the producers and terroirs of Pessac-Leognan, it is capable of producing high-quality red and white wines. Since the sub-region was partitioned, the southern end of Graves has focused on wine styles demanded by modem wine consumers. Fresher, crisp white wines have replaced the sweeter styles and are produced alongside richer, fruitier reds.

The area around the southern village of Langon is entirely separated from the northern end of Graves by the Sauternes and Barsac appellations, and could be considered as a distinct production area in its own right.

 References: tanners-wines and wikipedia

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