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The Pessac-Léognan Appellation

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The Pessac-Léognan Appellation

carte AOC Pessac-Léognan

The  Pessac-Léognan appellation is a very old winegrowing area, the cradle of great wines: "the Graves de Bordeaux", which used to correspond to the provostal suburb of the city. The first vines in Bordeaux were certainly planted in the area immediately around the city, in very ancient times. In the 18th century, this was also the birthplace of "New French Claret", at Château Haut-Brion in the parish of Pessac, classified a 1st Great Growth in 1855. This famous estate is the uncontested leader among the 16 Graves Classified Growths ... These wines were internationally renowned as early as the Middle Ages, when Aquitaine was under English rule, and they have maintained their reputation until the present day.

However, while the origins of these vineyards are very ancient, paradoxically, Pessac-Léognan is the most recent of the Bordeaux appellations.

 After  several years of constant effort, led by André Lurton , President of the Syndicat Viticole des Graves du Nord at the time, its specific qualities were finally recognised by an official decree setting up the appellation on 9 September 1987.

The appellation now covers almost 1,700 hectares of vineyards in 10 municipalities close to the city: Cadaujac, Canéjan, Gradignan, Léognan, Martillac, Mérignac, Pessac, Saint-Médard-d’Eyrans, Talence, and Villenave d’Ornon. Its 75 châteaux and estates include Château La Louvière  and Château Couhins-Lurton , Graves great growths... The appellation produces approximately 9 million bottles per year: 80 % red and 20 % white wines.

The terroir is outstanding, both in terms of climate and soil.

terroir de graves pessac-léognan

Its key features are as follows:

  • A landscape of low rises, sufficiently sloping to ensure good drainage. [Facilitated by a network of small streams that act as  natural drains, feeding into the Garonne River] ;
  • Soils consisting of river gravel deposits (up to 8 meters deep), left behind by the Garonne River as it changed its course during the Quaternary Era, set on Tertiary limestone subsoil.
  • These stones and pebbles reflect the sun's radiation, increasing the vines' sun exposure and accelerating the ripening of the grapes.

This combination of factors represents an inimitable, inalienable heritage.

The appellation regulations impose very strict production conditions, particularly:

  • For red wines, a blend of grape varieties, with Cabernet Sauvignon as the dominant varietal, as well as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Carmenère.
  • The following white-wine grape varieties are permitted: Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, Sémillon, and Muscadelle.
  • The vines must be planted at a minimum density of 6,500 vines/hectare, to ensure the production of high-quality grapes.
  • Minimum sugar content: 162 g/L must for red wines and 144 g/L for white wines...

Unique dry white wines!

 Château Couhins-Lurton blanc

Dry white wines from this appellation are generally a fairly pale, straw-yellow colour. The young wines are subtle, light, aromatic, and fresh. Sauvignon Blanc contributes freshness and fruit. When the blend includes Sémillon, the wines have unique, candied-fruit aromas. These white wines are complex, full-bodied, and soft, with extraordinary aromatic length. Remarkably for white wine, Pessac-Léognan has great ageing potential. (sometimes over 20 years).

A few tasting tips: These wines are excellent with fish dishes and hard cheeses


Great red wines!

Château La Louvière rouge

Red wines from the Pessac-Léognan appellation are a lovely, bright crimson colour.  With a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, young Pessac-Léognan are full-bodied, but still perfectly well-balanced and elegant. They have beautifully ripe, red-berry fruit aromas, with floral hints, like violets, as well as lovely leather nuances on the nose. As they age (they have remarkable ageing potential, from 7 to over 20 years), they develop nuances of stewed, dried, and jammy fruit, as well as gamy aromas.

A few tasting tips: These wines make a superb accompaniment for red and white meats and game.

vignoble AOC Pessac-Léognan