Best 2012 Pessac-Leognan Whites

12 April 2013
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee


The 35 Pessac-Leognan whites I tasted were a pleasure to taste – light to medium weight with freshness, elegance and lifted aromatics. This is not a vintage for big, high alcohol wines – there was just not enough sunshine or warmth for that to happen. And because of the cool early part of the summer, the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes were able to keep their acidity, lean body and lovely minerality. Most were picked in mid to late September and the wines have just enough ripeness to be enjoyable young. Some of the serious whites have enough depth to easily age for a decade. Most of these wines were tasted twice. Below are my top 10:


1. 2012 Chateau Haut-Brion – Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France Full-bodied white with rich, generous, savoury flavours that range from freshly chopped herbs, star fruit to lemongrass. Silky-textured, exuberant and complex with a very long finish. The wine has nice balance and concentration, and suggests it will age for a decade or more easily. This vintage has 45% Semillon and 55% Sauvignon Blanc. (94) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$901 / HK$7,009


2. 2012 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion – Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, FranceFull-bodied, very ripe, round, perfumed with an array of flavours ranging from passion fruit to mangosteen and ripe pears. This vintage has 84% Semillon and only 16% Sauvignon Blanc contributing to the ripe, round, lovely flavours with good depth. The wine should age and evolve beautifully. (93) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$866 / HK$6,735


3. 2012 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte – Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France This vintage of Smith Haut Lafitte is intense with great concentration and depth and long finish. In a lineup of white Graves whites, this wine really stood out with its vibrancy, intensity and length. Lovely white wine with balance and complexity. (93) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$84 / HK$654


4. 2012 La Clarte de Haut-Brion – Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France Lovely aromatics with gorgeous gooseberry and mangosteen fruit. In the finish there is a hint of lemongrass and fresh dill and chives. Good concentration in this difficult vintage. Balanced, fresh and lively. (91) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$84 / HK$654


5. 2012 Chateau Bouscaut – Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France Wonderful intensity and depth in this white wine from Bouscaut. The wine has depth and layers of flavours ranging from toasted nuts, white sesame to fresh herbs and grapefruit. Well-crafted wine with fairly long length. (88-90) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$31 / HK$238


6. 2012 Domaine de Chevalier – Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France Supple, polished, elegant white with great intensity and lovely layers of flavours. The wine is round, smooth with delicate, floral and citrus/pomelo flavours. There is not the weight and concentration of riper vintages but the wine has balance and finesse. (90) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$84 / HK$654


7. 2012 Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere – Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France This property continues to be very consistent, making very good wine even in challenging vintages. The red and white are both very good in 2012. Generous, full bodied white with sweet ripe peaches, pomelo and mangosteen flavours. Lean, focused and well-crafted. (90) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$61 / HK$476


8. 2012 Chateau Latour-Martillac – Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France Lively fruit with wonderful energy and fresh acidity. Palate offers nectarines and pomelo fruits along with lemongrass. A balanced, elegant white with lifted and focused flavours. (89) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$28 / HK$214


9. 2012 Chateau Lespault-Martillac – Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, FranceWonderful, generous mouth-feel with layers of flavours that range from fresh herbs, apricots and pomelos. Lovely white with capacity to age/evolve. (89) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$21 / HK$166


10. 2012 Chateau de Fieuzal – Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France Well-crafted white with freshness and lifted flavours of stone fruits and dried herbs. The flavours are persistent and fresh with a moderate finish. (87) Average Retail Price for 2011: US$46 / HK$357