2023 Château la Garde, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux

2023 Château la Garde, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux

Product: 20231010468
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2023 Château la Garde, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux

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Blend: 57% Cabernet Sauvignon; 43% Merlot.

Production now focuses on using only Cabernet Sauvignon from the plateau de Graves (now most of the blend) and Merlot from the clay and limestone sections of the vineyard. Production of the grand vin is significantly reduced, even more so this year once the mildew had been dealt with. With Axel Marchal and Christophe Ollivier as consultants, softer extraction techniques are now employed with many other improvements. This knocks on the door of the Grands Crus Classés of Pessac-Léognan, giving plenty of the savoury tobacco and leather notes of the Graves with the hedgerow notes of sloe and bilberry and a twist of new oak.

Drink 2027 - 2039

Our score: 16.5/20

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Critics reviews

Jane Anson92/100

Lots of vineyard restructing work going on here, following terroir studies. Delivers the confident Pessac Léognan swirl of smoky oak, well balalnced, enjoyable and easy drinking but high quality wine, lip smacking, excellent bright blueberry fruits with grilled oak. Dourthe Vignobles. Axel Marchal and Chrstophe Ollivier consultants as of the 2023 vintage (they began in 2022 but not across the reds) - half the usual production of 1st wine, as selelction becomes more drastic. Great value, a buy.

Drink 2026 - 2036

Jane Anson, JaneAnson.com (April 2024)

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Neal Martin, Vinous90-92/100

The 2023 La Garde has a lifted bouquet that is nicely defined, with plenty of blackberry and bilberry fruit and subtle loamy scents percolating through. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannins, good body and ample structure, but it delivers more fruit than some of its peers. La Garde has been an improving estate in recent years, and this is another fine wine to add to that roster.

Drink 2028 - 2042

Neal Martin, Vinous.com (April 2024)

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Antonio Galloni, Vinous90-93/100

The 2023 La Garde is the first wine made in the new cellar, part of a strategy that includes a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon on blocks planted on gravel, and a reduction of the Grand Vin by 50%. Deep and imposing in feel, the 2023 offers up a mélange of dark-toned fruit, leather, incense, licorice and scorched earth. The tannins are a bit imposing at this stage.

Drink 2028 - 2043

Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (April 20240

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Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW88-90/100

The 2023 La Garde Rouge is deep garnet-purple in color. The nose features notes of stewed red and black plums and juicy raspberries followed by hints of garrigue and bay leaf. The medium-bodied palate is bright and refreshing, with appealing herbal accents and a light chewiness on the finish.

Drink 2027 - 2037

Lisa Perrott-Brown MW, The Wine Independent (May 2024)

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Wine Advocate91-93/100

Owned by Maison Dourthe, this estate has strategically chosen to concentrate on cultivating Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on the central plateau, renowned for its gravelly soils. The 2023 La Garde reflects this focus, exhibiting a deep, complex bouquet of dark wild berries, mulberries, flowers and licorice, followed by a medium to full-bodied, tense and layered palate with a structured but elegant mid-palate that segues into a long, mineral finish. This is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Merlot.

Drink 2025 - 2040

Yohan Castaing, Wine Advocate (April 2024)

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James Suckling92-93/100

Solid and structured with good volume and length, showing notes of dark fruit and walnuts. Medium-bodied with compact, velvety tannins. The finish is firm and even.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (May 2024)

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About this WINE

Chateau la Garde

Chateau la Garde

Château La Garde is a rising star of the Pessac-Léognan wine appellation owned by the dynamic Bordeaux negociant company Dourthe-Kressman. It is a medium-sized property with 47 hectares of vineyards in, planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.

The Cabernet-dominated red wines are soft, well structured and packed with smooth, ripe fruit which makes them very attractive young, though they also possess good medium-term cellaring potential. The red wines display the true Graves minerality underneath an exuberant cassis-and-plums aroma.

Albeit predominantly a red wine vineyard, it does have at its heart a small patch of land which is more suited to the production of white wine, from which a mere 1,000 cases of exquisitely-scented, vibrant white Bordeaux is produced each year.

What is unique to La Garde is the presence in the vineyard of a parcel of rare Sauvignon Gris, a close cousin of the Sauvignon Blanc but a varietal which yields a slightly richer, rounder character to the finished blend. 50% of the wine comes from this grape and the touch of complexity it imparts lifts this wine above most of its competitors.

The investment made by Dourthe in both vineyard and cellar is now beginning to bear fruit, both figuratively and literally, in the form of exceptional wines of both colours, and any re-assessment of the Pessac-Léognan classification would surely see La Garde feature amongst the Classified Growths.

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In 1986 a new communal district was created within Graves, in Bordeaux,  based on the districts of Pessac and Léognan, the first of which lies within the suburbs of the city. Essentially this came about through pressure from Pessac-Léognan vignerons, who wished to disassociate themselves from growers with predominately sandy soils further south in Graves.

Pessac-Léognan has the best soils of the region, very similar to those of the Médoc, although the depth of gravel is more variable, and contains all the classed growths of the region. Some of its great names, including Ch. Haut-Brion, even sit serenely and resolutely in Bordeaux's southern urban sprawl.

The climate is milder than to the north of the city and the harvest can occur up to two weeks earlier. This gives the best wines a heady, rich and almost savoury character, laced with notes of tobacco, spice and leather. Further south, the soil is sandier with more clay, and the wines are lighter, fruity and suitable for earlier drinking.

Recommended Châteaux: Ch. Haut-Brion, Ch. la Mission Haut-Brion, Ch. Pape Clément, Ch Haut-Bailly, Domaine de Chevalier, Ch. Larrivet-Haut-Brion, Ch. Carmes Haut-Brion, Ch. La Garde, Villa Bel-Air.

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Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.

In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and  Australia.

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