Winemaking history here goes back to the Romans. Pessac has some of the finest, age-worthy, dry white wines in the world, along with cellar-worthy reds.
Pessac-Léognan is an appellation where not only can you find some of the world's finest red wines made from almost equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but some of the best, age-worthy dry white wines too, made from Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
The mosaic of microclimates and soils is what makes the suburban vineyards and wines of Pessac-Léognan so unique.
The vineyards of Pessac-Léognan are the closest to Bordeaux city and hold the oldest wineries in the whole region. Producing age-worthy red wines alongside some of the world's finest dry white wines, this appellation is diverse, and extremely high in quality.
To find the highest quality wines, you need to look for "Cru Classé" on the label for both the white and the red wines. The red wines are full of cassis, red berries, spice, leather, and herbal aromas.
The tannins in these wines tend to need less time in your cellar to be approachable, however, the wines have enough structure to age for decades.
The white wines are dry with pineapple, lemon verbena, fresh hay, and hazelnut and toast aromas. With refreshingly high acidity, and intense concentration, these wines are impressive when first bottled, but get better and better with age.
Pessac-Léognan Wineries To Know
Château Haut-Brion: - This is the only winery in Bordeaux to have two classifications, one from 1855 (It's a First Growth), but it was also classified in 1955 as part of the Crus Classés de Graves. Though their white wine is not classified, it’s considered one of the finest white wines in the world and is more expensive than their red!
Château La Mission Haut-Brion - Sitting next to Haut-Brion, and owned by the same people, the quality of these wines is considered to be similar to that of its neighbor. Both their red and white wines are part of the Crus Classés de Graves.
Château Pape Clément - This is considered the oldest winery in Bordeaux, hailing from 1252! Both their red and white wines are part of the Crus Classés de Graves.
Château Smith Haut Lafitte - With a history dating back to 1365 and now farming organically and biodynamically, this winery also makes their own barrels, which is quite rare. Their red wine is part of the Crus Classés de Graves.
Domaine de Chevalier - Both the white wines and red wines are part of the Crus Classés de Graves. The winery is somewhat unique in that it's surrounded by forest, giving it a unique microclimate.
The soils of Pessac-Léognan are varied but it makes sense because the landscape is also varied. Some wineries sit within the suburban area of Bordeaux and others nestle in forests which creates different microclimates in Pessac-Léognan.
The vineyards close to forests tend to be better for growing white wine grapes, mainly because the soils are more acidic. It helps maintain the acidity and freshness in white wines.
The gravel soils are best suited for red grapes, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas, clay soils work best for Merlot. The whole of Pessac-Léognan is a mosaic of soils and microclimates and this diversity leads to high quality blends in both the white and the red wines.
Pessac-Léognan Facts and Classification Information
- 4425 acres (1790 ha) of vineyards
- Red Grapes: 39% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc
- White Grapes: 19% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon
- Established as an appellation in 1987
- The most varied of Bordeaux with gravel, along with sand, clay, and limestone
- The only appellation to have wines in two classification systems.
- 75 winemakers
- Cru Classé de Graves, established in 1953, for red and dry white wines - All of the wineries are located in Pessac-Léognan:
- 16 wineries are part of the classification
- One winery is part of this classification and the 1855 Grands Crus Classés classification (Château Haut-Brion)
- 7 Wineries are classified for red wines only
- 3 Wineries are classified for dry white wines only
- 6 Wineries are classified for both red and dry white wines