Beverley Blanning MW reports on the Bordeaux 2006 vintage in Pessac-Léognan and Graves...
The earlier-ripening Pessac-Léognan and Graves districts generally suffered less than the Médoc from the difficulties of the late season weather.
In common with the rest of the wines of the region, the defining characteristic of the Pessac and Graves 2006s is their structure. In both reds and whites, there is beautiful fresh acidity, thanks to the long and rather cold August that followed the protracted heat wave of June and July. This was perfect for the white wine grapes, which ripened slowly, building up complexity of flavour and aroma. Sauvignon Blancs are particularly expressive this year.
The whites are almost uniformly good and may exceed the 2005s in quality. Certainly, they have higher acidities and many show considerable finesse.
While the whites were mostly harvested before the heavy September rains, picking the reds was a more nail-biting affair. Alternating heat and rain provided ideal conditions for rot. In some cases the Merlots were picked in advance of optimum ripeness to avoid losing the crop, leading to some green tannins. On the whole, though, there is sufficient ripeness and density of fruit. This, combined with the mouth-watering acidity of the vintage, combats the high tannin levels found in all the wines. Many of these wines will be approachable young, but the best have the structure to age very well.