Along with the other famous communes of the Left Bank region of the Gironde, Pessac-Léognan is one of the best regions in the world for producing outstanding and long-lived wines. Pessac Léognan has the distinction of being the only one that produces large amounts of high-quality white wine as well. Located around the southern and western side of the city of Bordeaux, this appellation is one of the newest in France, created in 1987. Up until this time the vineyards were a part of the Graves appellation, a geographically large appellation that extends from the city of Brodeaux 38 miles south to the town of Langon. It was the vineyards centered around and near the communes of Pessac and Léognan that were considered the best, however, and when the new appellation was created it absorbed within its borders all of the estates Clasified in 1855 including the First Growth Château Haut-Brion, which holds the distinction of being the first estate mentioned in English Literature in 1663.
As one would imagine in a region called Graves the soil consists of a heavy gravel with pockets of sand and some clay. The region has more contour and valleys than that of the flat vineyards of the Médoc, and the best estates still reside on the pure Gravel ridges that extend outward from the city of Bordeaux. Due to the great historical impact of the area, this region is frequently visited by tourists touring the castles, cathedrals and churches that dot the landscape.
The wines of Pessac Léognan are known for their grace, charm and longevity. The best reds have all the requisite currant and spice box notes found in all great Bordeaux, but they tend to carry a mineral aspect that is unique to the soils of Pessac Léognan. The reds may not have the intense power of Saint-Estèphe, or the soaring fruit of Pauillac, but they can be a world-class red that has more than enough of everything. The white wines are dry and minerally, with high percentages of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon leading the way. For many years this region produced far more white wine than red, but in the last few decades red wines have taken over.
Off-dry white wines in the area are sold as Graves Supérieures.
Visit Bordeaux for an in depth look at the history of Bordeaux.