The Wines of Pessac Léognan, Bordeaux


Red wines from Pessac Léognan have a powerful bouquet and are regarded as being among the best in Bordeaux. The AOC of Pessac Léognan was detached from the Graves appellation in 1987.

Come join us in a discussion about the region, its unique terrior and the beautiful wines they create. Our guest represent two of the regions most respected wineries: Veronique Sanders of Château Haut-Bailly and Antony Perrin of Château Carbonnieux.

Find out more about todays guests and their wines:

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Show #74
(39:45 min 19 MB)

Pessac Léognan occupies the northern area of Graves nearest Bordeaux.

An areil view of the Château Haut Bailly estate.

The Château Haut Bailly barrel room.

Veronique Sanders and Winery Owner Robert Wilmers.

The Château

Château Carbonnieux

Antony Perrin in the cellar.

The beautiful estate of Château Carbonnieux through the seasons.


20 Responses to “The Wines of Pessac Léognan, Bordeaux”

  1. 1 Ezra Feb 20th, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    As usual, I enjoyed your show very much. I would like to comment, however, on the fact that your guests did not really answer your statement regarding the confusion surrounding French wine labels. Either they didn’t really understand exactly what you were saying (that, I doubt), or they preferred not to directly address the issue. Though I have lived in France and study French wines, the process of perusing the names on a restaurant’s wine list or the shelf in a merchant’s store is one of the more confusing wine-related experiences out there. I appreciate Ms. Sanders comment saying that if the wine has charm and is special to you (like your woman), you will know its name; and yet, what about all those wines you’d like to discover and have become special for you that, as of yet, you know nothing about. French labels tell you as much about the wine as does the dress a woman is wearing. You can make a guess as to its character, but who knows if you’ll be right.

  2. 2 GrapeRadio Bunch Feb 20th, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    Ms. Sanders asked me if I really made an effort to learn French. I really had not made the effort. No excuse on my part. That being said, I would make it as easy as possible. I still like the idea of a phonetic spelling on the back. I did not get the impression they were trying to avoid answering. Why would they?


  3. 3 dustin derrick Feb 20th, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    I was wondering why this podcast hasn’t shown up in I tunes. Does it take a couple days, becuase I tried to download it by going to Itunes to let it automatically update and/or give me the option to “get” and neither was avaliable. I’m visiting Napa March 13th-16th so I’m immersing myself in as much knowledge as possible.

    Keep up the good work,

  4. 4 Jim Cramer Feb 20th, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    Really liked this show. In many ways I consider myself a novice despite drinking and learning about wine for 20+ years. So interesting…only in the last 2 years have I started to try French wine. It is most likely due to reading Kermit Lynch’s book (really liked that show also). I avoided French wine for the very same reasons stated in the show: the names are just too difficult to pronounce and it is too embarrassing to butcher the name in a nice restaurant. Given this, I thought the interviewers (excuse me for saying so) came across as “whine-y” about the labels and the difficult names. I thought the vintners handled it well and politely. And, in my humble opinion, Jay reacted really positively after the interview– if we give it some effort we will learn. Shouldn’t we be a bit more flexible and a bit more open? Haven’t the French been making their labels this way for some time — should they change them just so that we Americans are able to understand them more easily? Does anyone know this: are the French labels controlled by a governing body defining what information is presented and where on the bottle?

    One small step: I learned how to pronounce Haut-Bailly from listening to your show. I wished I had a transcript of the show so that I could catch more of the words. It was great to hear the vintners pronounce the names so many times — it starts to click after a while.

    A suggestion: have a show on pronouncing key French wine words and explaining how the labels are to be read and understood. I think I first saw a description of labels in “Windows on the World: A Complete Wine Course”. It feels like a few basics could go a long way to help.

    In the last two years, I have begun to appreciate the “finesse” of some French wines. Previously, I thought idea is was nonsense; I am changing my opinion the more I drink it. I have had some really delicious French wine, red and white, and the price/quality value has been very high.

    Unsure how you are making money but I certainly hope you continue to be successful. This is a great way to learn about wine.

    Thanks for your efforts.

  5. 5 John Feb 21st, 2006 at 10:47 am

    Why the confusion over FRENCH labels on FRENCH wines? I am sorry, to me the Grape Radio gang came off as culturally inept Americans. Please, if you are curious about French wine, jump in and get the whole package. Do you also have problems with Italian, German, and Spanish wines? If other languages/cultures intimidate you perhaps, you should stick to American and Australian wines.

  6. 6 Doug Smith Feb 22nd, 2006 at 11:40 am

    Thanks for the show! My wife and I had a great time the last couple of years spending a few days in and around Bordeaux visiting the towns and Chateaux. It’s really a wonderful place and great people. St. Émilion is gorgeous, and Pessac-Léognan is definitely worth the trip.

    As for the labels, it’s a hard question, because often it’s the Chateau or town name itself that’s hard for us to pronounce, and I doubt they’d want to change the name of their Chateau or town! But as Antony suggested, maybe a back label would be a good idea, particularly for the second and third tier bottlings, to explain about the location, character, terroir, pronunciation, etc. I can’t see a reason not to.



  7. 7 GrapeRadio Bunch Feb 22nd, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    John, while I agree that I could make a greater effort to learn other languages, I do not agree that one’s ignorance of forgein languages makes one “culturally inept”. I also strongly disagee with your assertion if one is intimidated by other languages/cultures, that they should not strive to learn and explore. I will never accept that.

    The whole premise of GrapeRadio is that we all can learn together. If that means asking stupid questions, stumbling over forgein words, I can live with that. I am in no way qualified to teach anybody about wine. I can however, put together a venue where we can all learn.

    I am sorry we failed to meet youe expectations. I am making an effort.


  8. 8 Collin Feb 22nd, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    Another great show guys.
    But I think you should change the slogan to “Sounds good to me.”

  9. 9 Doug Smith Feb 23rd, 2006 at 5:51 am

    Re. Wine Pronunciation:

    You may be interested to know that Berry Bros. and Rudd (the oldest British wine merchant) has a website with a pronunciation helper online:

    If you click on the blue icon next to the name, it pronounces it for you!



  10. 10 Bill Curtis Feb 24th, 2006 at 12:34 am

    John is a little edgy there – I can understand some of the French language but I still can’t understand French wine labels.

    I really enjoyed Kermit Lynch’s “Adventures on the Wine Route” book from the 80’s that I just read (after listening to his Grape Radio interview). From what I get from the book even he is even confused about what to purchase as methods can change over the years with the same producers. What I gleaned from his writing as an importer is that it comes down to keeping you taste buds open as you are buying and, after you find some good stuff, careful shipping back to the US to keep the wine as fresh as it tasted originally in France.

    I think there is so much more out there in French wine than the large negociant blends that is much of what is easily available to us in the US. We also have many wines that may have been good, but have been cooked between the time they left the packing area and when you can drink them, so it is hard to judge them accurately sometimes.

    I am reluctant to purchase many French wines because you can be equally disappointed with an unknown label as a big name, but I would like to become more knowledgable to be able to find the good stuff. I am willing to take the time to start to dig my way through the confusion and Grape Radio has become a valuable resource to me in getting wiser to the options available out there.

    You guys are doing a Grape Job!

  11. 11 GrapeRadio Bunch Feb 24th, 2006 at 5:39 am

    Howdy Bill! Your comment about Kermit shows insight into the subtle point we are trying to make. There are lots of hidden treasures out there if we take the time to just look. I hope I never stop looking.

    How does living in Hawaii have an impact on your ability to find wine?


  12. 12 Bill Curtis Feb 24th, 2006 at 9:49 pm

    On our island of Maui there is a population of about 110,000, which is the same as some cities within your home Orange County, California. With such a small population base we don’t have quite the selection as you have, but there are 3 serious wine stores on the island (not counting the grocery stores) that I am now familiar with and regularly shop at. My wife and I share a bottle of wine most every night, and we also have friends that come over now and then and share wine with them as well.

    Before I found these stores I used to purchase wine at the grocery stores, and I include Costco in this category. A recent wine appreciation class that I took at our Community College as well as your interview with the owner of the Wine Club inspired me to more enthusiastically support my local wine shops and not to be shy about asking for opinions from them. Over the past year I have shopped at my favorite that is near work (and is the only one with a temperature controlled room), my second favorite that is out of the way, but stocks different items (including many Kermit Lynch selections), and then my third favorite near the airport which has the largest selection, but often not much in the way of assistance. I can often get items that I read about there and experiment that way.

    I missed running into Mick Fleetwood by 10 minutes a weeks ago my favorite vendor told me as I walked in one day, and right after that he let me know of a special shipment of Vin Santo (a Tuscan dessert wine) that he had just received and he knew I liked. He passed on his good pricing on bottles that had not yet been unpacked from the case.

    Just recently I have joined a few California wine clubs (Arcadian, Palmina, Sapphire Hill and Loring) – while we are able to import to Hawaii, the shipping charges for UPS Ground (which is via air to Hawaii) can add a bit to the cost, so I am only doing it for a few wines that I can not find locally.

    I will continue to read up and experiment and I appreciate the knowledge that is shared with your program. From what I learn here, read in Kermit Lynch and Robert Parker books (and tasting notes), and absorb from Steven Tanzer’s website I am beginning to learn to navigate the minefield that is French wine. I am very much an amateur in French wine, a bit more familiar with Italian and California wines.

    Although I am a long way from being proficient I think the journey may be more interesting than the destination. Rather than fretting over French labels being hard and confusing (you often have to understand the region to know what the grape variety(ies) is (are)), that confusion might ultimately be to our advantage. When you find something that you do enjoy it may not be as widely known and possibly a better value?

  13. 13 Nick Feb 26th, 2006 at 9:19 am

    A great interview guys. The true extent of the damage done by the English speaking world not being able to understand labels etc. is reflected in the plummeting sales of these wines in the UK and USA. The clear descriptions and information on the ‘New World’ wine bottles mean that the average consumer feels that they know what they are getting.

    Surely the hardest way to convince the greater public to buy your wines to to ask them to study your language, geography and history first. That said, your interview was informative and your guests reflected the true passion and dedication that the Bordelais have for their most famous product.

    Looking forward to thhe next installment, thanks.

  14. 14 GrapeRadio Bunch Feb 26th, 2006 at 9:54 am

    I think we all are somewhat distracted by the language questions. I would like to hear from people that based on what they heard, would they me more willing to explore wines that get less media attention than the 1st growths? I for one, after hearing how they have invested so much of themselves, and hearing the pride they have in their wines, am going to expand my wine choices.


  15. 15 John Feb 27th, 2006 at 11:00 am

    Hey GR gang,

    Sorry, I came off a bit over the top. I do enjoy your show. I don’t expect you to learn the French language just to out buy wine from your local wine seller. The question of French labels just seemed to come out of left field.

    By all means, please continue to cover less popular wines. I’ll keep listening.


  16. 16 GrapeRadio Bunch Feb 27th, 2006 at 11:27 am

    No problem John. Again, I think part of what you were saying is make an effort. I think that is a reasonable approach. I think we tend to make things harder than the are so we can make an excuse not to make the effort. I for one, tend to be lazy.

    I hope you keep posting feedback. Constructive criticism really is appreciated. Your comment about culturally inept Americans may explain why I got all the strange looks when I wiped my nose with my tie. 🙂


  17. 17 Steve Mar 3rd, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    I am a little behind on my podcasts, but I too listened with great interest when Jay asked about the difficulty in “penetrating” many French labels. I agree with the people who believe that we English-speakers could make more of an effort, but the declines in French wine sales (which has hit Bordeaux very hard) would also tell me that the producers have to at least consider change or face dire economic consequences. I want the French winemakers to succeed, but many are struggling and I think the steep learning curve for French wine is part of the problem. If Haut-Bailly and Carbonnieux are pleased with their sales, then good for them, but it is too bad that other producers cannot even try new ways without running afoul of AOC regulations. Thanks for a great program and for asking the challenging questions!

  18. 18 Mark Froehlich Mar 5th, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    Guys, I love the show. I think the discussion regarding language sidesteps the real question French wine producers should be asking themselves: How do I make my product’s packaging more useful to my intended market? Right or wrong, American wine consumers are accustomed to identification of a wine’s characteristics by the grape varietal. Wine producers can either reach these consumers by educating them on their specific wine (a monumental task considering the number of products available) or make their packaging more informative. This doesn’t have to be through identification of a varietal, but something has to be changed. Think of all the good wines that aren’t reviewed on your show or touted by the press that could benefit from an innovative label that helped a consumer identify this wine as something that may interest them?

  19. 19 GrapeRadio Bunch Mar 6th, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    Mark, just look at all these comments. The market is speaking.


  20. 20 paul Mar 6th, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    as always, i love the education i get from these shows. my non-wine friends think i’m some sort of oenophile. i still think of myself as a beginner…

    i have a different opinion than some of those expressed here. i am not sure that changing the product’s packaging will result in an appreciable increase in a wine’s sales. in my experience, what generates sales is a high rating from one of the well-respected critics. chateau montelena’s bottle still says cabernet sauvignon on it, but how are sales doing there? (fyi, one of the critics gave them a terrible rating and their sales plummeted…)

    new world wines are selling well because critics are loving their wines and creating a buzz about a particular area. australian shiraz, new zealand sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs, sonoma coast pinots…

    with regards to bordeauxs, try finding some of the 2003 just now coming onto the market; you may not know to properly pronounce the wine (i continuously butcher pronunciations of french and italian wines), but i am clamoring to buy some based on the critics reviews of the vintage and the wines coming out of there.

    i suppose its hard, but with a little work (and help from your wine retailer who wants to help you), you can learn old world wines. while i am primarily not a bordeaux drinker, i know bordeauxs are blends from cab sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot, malbec, and cabernet franc (did i get that right?); right bank, primarily merlot, left bank -cabernet… lets see, barolos and barbarescos are nebbiolo; chianti and brunello are sangiovese; burgundies are pinot noir and chardonnay, etc. if i can learn it, i’m sure most of you can…

    frankly i love wines that are AOC or DOCG, it means there is some history behind it… these wines are well worth exploring.

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