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Bordeaux 2019 at Two Years: Pessac-Léognan, White

Bordeaux 2019 at Two Years: Pessac-Léognan, White

Recent vintages have not really been kind to the white vineyards of Bordeaux. While every growing season is distinctive and individual, common features crop up in 2018, 2019 and 2020 – in particular long periods of supremely warm and dry weather – which make it difficult for Bordeaux’s white varieties. Sugar levels climb, and if left too long before picking high alcohols naturally follow (unless you fancy your white Bordeaux with a little residual sugar, I suppose). Acidity levels tumble from view, and if allowed to continue this will contribute to a loss of freshness from the wine.

Picking early can ameliorate both of these issues, but you then run the risk of losing the more interesting aromatic and flavour compounds that come from slowly advancing maturity on the vine, achievable in less torrid vintages when phenolics, sugars and acidity all march in time. It is a problem with no easy solution.

As a consequence many of the whites from this vintage display rather plush and velvety compositions, with lower acidity levels than many recent vintages. In most cases they do have good fruit aromas and flavours though; in fact in that regard some of them are absolutely delicious. But without that acid cut, and with the textures occasionally bolstered by a more robust alcohol level, this is a challenging vintage for whites. There are one or two successes though, wines which seem to achieve some sense of balance while still transmitting something of the aromatic confidence and ripeness of the vintage.

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