If you thought we've been a bit disparaging about the Pessac Leognan appellation, this should balance things out a bit. In addition to the wonderful range at Haut Brion, Domaine de Chevalier, Smith haut Lafitte and Haut Bailly have also got it spot on. Fabien Teitgen, the talented Technical Director at Smith Haut Lafitte presented his wines with an air of confidence. As well he might, the red captures the vintage to perfection. Its regal bouquet fills the glass with noble aromas of loganberry, mulberry, toast and violets. The palate is equally sumptuous with oodles of black liqueur fruit, tobacco smoke and crème de mûre. There is pleasing acidity that lends freshness and a mouth-watering quality; one is left with flavours of wild strawberries and thimbleberry on the seductive tannins. A real vin de garde. 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.
Daniel and Florence Cathiard have taken this Pessac estate to the next level. The wines here outshine many of the top names from the more fashionable communes and are challenging the likes of Haut Bailly, La Mission and even Haut Brion for supremacy in the Graves. Their 2009 received a perfect 100 points from Robert Parker and we think the 2010 is even better. The style is pure seductive fruit and a silky texture; the quality is exceptional. Kudos to Daniel and Florence for turning this good, but slightly underperforming estate into one of the finest in Pessac Leognan.
The region has one first growth, Château Haut-Brion, whilst other renowned Chateaux currently doing well are La Mission-Haut-Brion, Pape-Clément, Smith-Haut-Lafitte and Haut-Bailly. Soils are gravely and well-drained and the plantations are similar in proportion to those of the Médoc, consisting mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The region is also well known for its long-lived whites that can be varying blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon oaked or unoaked. The most lauded are Domaine de Chevalier, Haut-Brion, Pape-Clement, De Fieuzal, and Laville-Haut-Brion.