Pessac-Leognan Wine Region Summary
A newer appellation, having been split as a distinct region in 1987, Pessac-Leognan contains the finest estates in Graves.
Whilst the mild climate is similar to that of the Haut Medoc to the north, the wines of Pessac-Leognan have a very distinct character. Deep gravel ridges make for red wines commonly recognized by their intensity and structure. The Cabernet Sauvignon so at home here is responsible for what are often deeply savoury, smoky characteristics in Pessac-Leognan wines. Merlot commonly makes up a greater proportion of final blends than in neighbouring appellations, a marriage which means these wines are more approachable in their youth than those of the Haut-Medoc further north and yet also age reliably well for decades.
Production is varied; the first Bordeaux clairets (rosés) were produced here, and the dry white wines are among the finest in Bordeaux. Sparkling quartz gravel soils lend these whites, based on Sémillon and Sauvingnon Blanc, a unique character, commonly featuring citrus blossom aromas and tropical fruit flavours.
The resident First Growth, Chateau Haut Brion, remains the most iconic estate here and was the first Bordeaux producer to export and produce its own wine internationally. Its claret, famously enjoyed by Samuel Pepys, is commonly admired for its multifaceted layers of refined flavour.