French Wine Tutor

Yin & Yang in Pessac-Léognan

Who knew that two wines from the same vintage, appellation, and classification could be so opposite? That’s the magic of French wine.

I’ll be the first to admit that the Bordeaux wine region has long eluded me.

Contrary to most, I’ve just never been able to get into big bold reds and have for years said that Cabernet Sauvignon, moderate to hot climates, Merlot, and I simply can’t be friends. But as time passes, I find myself constantly being sent wines from the region, interacting with Bordelais who would drink their region’s wines over any other, and invited to events where Bordeaux winemakers are out to prove that they can make a wine for anyone and everyone.

In tasting the two wines above, I found that this philosophy was spot on. For an upcoming Premium Bordeaux Event by ,Wines ‘Til Sold Out (WTSO), I compared and contrasted two lovely Bordeaux wines from the same appellation, vintage, and classification and was shocked by the dichotomy. Who knew that the same terroir could produce a duo of wines that are 180 degrees from one another? Ok – the French have probably known that all along.

Let’s get to the reviews.

Château Carbonnieux, Pessac-Léognan Grand Cru Classé 2015

So many of my friends and followers have raved about this estate for years and I can finally understand why. Château Carbonnieux’s 2015 Pessac is a delight in 2021 but could certainly stay in your cellar for another decade. This blend is a Bordeaux classic: mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but with 5% Petit Verdot as well. The mouthfeel really caught me by surprise – like crushed velvet. It still had quite a lot of grip but was soft and sophisticated, like a couch in a traditional bourgeois home. As for the palate, this wine was full of blackberry, dark cherry, and a bit of barbecue smoke. At the end I also detected a hint of pepper, too. This is a great pairing for all kinds of heavy holiday dishes – ones that can stand up to the weight of a delicious Pessac.

Château Olivier, Pessac-Léognan Grand Cru Classé 2015

If there’s an absolute foil in Pessac to Château Carbonnieux, it’d have to be Château Olivier’s answer. It’s the same vintage, same classification, same blend, yet worlds apart. This is a wine that was meant to age for another two or three decades. These tannins are tight, drying and in desperate need of time to balance the alcohol. On both the nose and the palate, there’s an explosion of pepper, cedar, and the beginnings of cooked dark fruits. While this wine is drinkable now, it’ll be a showstopper in 20 years and can definitely stand up to any complex meal.

What’s one thing I learned from this side-by-side comparison? No amount of wine knowledge can prepare you for a tasting like this! We can never judge a wine by its appellation, vintage, or winemaker alone: it’s the combination of all three that make each wine unique.

Looking to get your hands on both of these Bordeaux beauties? Head over to , for discounted retail prices on these wines and more during the Premium Bordeaux Event, October 20, 2021.


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