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The 2017 Le Pape is matured in 30% new oak. It has slightly earthy black fruit on the nose, developing pressed flower scents with aeration all with moderate delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin, a little softer and therefore more approachable than the 2015 or 2016 with moderate depth. It just misses a touch of complexity and cohesion towards the finish although that should knit together by the end of its élevage. Fine.
The 2017 Le Pape is fresh and vibrant, with a distinctly red- fruit and floral profile. Gracious and light on its feet, the 2017 is one of the more fresh, aromatic editions of this wine since it has been made by the team at Haut-Bailly. It should be a terrific near and medium term drinker. The blend is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.
This is a lovely Le Pape, soft, elegant, smooth and extremely elegant. The acidities are relatively high - certainly more apparent than last year - but the overall texture is extremely silky. We are now on the sixth vintage since the Haut-Bailly team took over, and it is really finding its style and its character. The aromatics spring from the glass and it's extremely 'digestible', as the French say, yet with a real sense of structure. It has great balance and is very charming, an easy to recommend medium term drinker. Harvested 18-29 September. No frost damage. Drinking Window: 2022-2032
Stretching from the rather unglamorous southern suburbs of Bordeaux, for 50 km along the left bank of the river Garonne, lies Graves. Named for its gravelly soil, a relic of Ice Age glaciers, this is the birthplace of claret, despatched from the Middle Ages onwards from the nearby quayside to England in vast quantities. It can feel as though Bordeaux is just about red wines, but some sensational white wines are produced in this area from a blend of sauvignon blanc, Semillon and, occasionally, muscadelle grapes, often fermented and aged in barrel. In particular, Domaine de Chevalier is renowned for its superbly complex whites, which continue to develop in bottle over decades. A premium appellation, Pessac-Leognan, was created in 1987 for the most prestigious terroirs within Graves. These are soils with exceptional drainage, made up of gravel terraces built up in layers over many millennia, and consequently thrive in mediocre vintages but are less likely to perform well in hotter years. These wines were appraised and graded in their own classification system in 1953 and updated in 1959, but, like the 1855 classification system, this should be regarded with caution and the wines must absolutely be assessed on their own current merits.