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Things to know about the Pessac Léognan appellation

Château la Louvière. Château viticole pluri centenaire à Pessac Léognan où les forêts sombre et profondes du 12 ème et 13 ème siècle ont donné la configuration de ce magnifique terroir à Pessac Léognan

The Pessac Léognan appellation is situated in the south of the Bordeaux region and has the best reputation among the nearby Graves appellations. The region is distinguished by its top-quality gravelly soil, from which the name Graves is derived. The appellation is spread over more than 130 000 hectares, covering a dozen towns in the suburban area of Bordeaux (Cadaujac, Talence, Canéjan, Léognan, Martillac, Pessac, Mérignac, Villenave d’Ornon, Gradignan, and Saint-Médard-d’Eyrans). This impressive distribution makes Pessac Léognan the largest regional appellation in France.

A terroir both ancient and modern

The history of Graves wines

The appellation Pessac Léognan is relatively new, only having been delineated in 1987. By contrast, the terroir itself has been a winemaking region since the Middle Ages, when the first vines were planted in the Bordeaux region and its surrounding territories.

Graves wines, considered the Bordeaux wines par excellence, dominated the French and international markets until the end of the 18th century. The region survived numerous crises caused by disease, harsh winter frosts, strong competition, and the urban sprawl of the city of Bordeaux encroaching on winemaking territory.

Ideal soil, ideal climate

The soil of Pessac Léognan is a complex blend of minerals which work together to create the unique terroir of the area. Clay and sand balance out the calcium gravel that gave the Graves region its name. Other natural components such as quartzes of all colours round out the mix.

The local micro-climate, temperate and mild, leads to a dry, mineral-rich soil. The gravel deposits underground create natural irrigation canals, which efficiently drain the soil so that the vines are nourished but not drowned.

Château olivier, grand cru classé en Pessac Léognan. Un domaine qui remonte au haut moyen âge. Le prince noir, venait s'y reposer après avoir guerroyé

Grape varieties in the Pessac Léognan appellation

The Pessac Léognan appellation, spread over many thousands of hectares, produces a high quantity of fruit compared to other regions. The minimum density allowed in the region is 6500 plants per hectare. The different estates of Pessac Léognan plant an average of 9000 vines per hectare; the regulated production is 45 hectolitres/hectare for red wines, which make up 80% of the annual production, and 48 hl/ha for white wines, which are the remaining 20%.

The appellation-authorised varieties for red wine are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. For white wine, Sauvignon, Sémillon, and Muscadelle are the authorised varieties.

Further explanation of the varieties


  • Merlot gives off fruity aromas of blackberry, redcurrant, and violet. It has a balanced and light tannin structure. The taste is rich, elegant, and of high quality.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon is Bordeaux’s oldest grape variety. Its aromas evoke dark berries such as blackcurrant and blackberry. Vintages and Crus add cedar and spiced aromas to the mix.
  • Cabernet Franc is less popular in the Pessac region, but is still distinguished due to its rich sugars and tannins. It has an earthy palate with notes of berries and spice, and a colour which evolves with time.
  • Petit Verdot is a late-ripening variety. Its intense colour and rich tannins sets it apart, along with its violet character.
  • Malbec is a rare variety in the Pessac Léognan appellation.


  • Sauvignon is a sweeter wine with great aromatic potential. It is distinguished by its citrus notes. At once dense and sweet, Sauvignon white wines are the perfect balance between fresh and tart.
  • Sémillon is the dominant white variety in the region, and one of the most prestigious grapes in France. The grape can be made into both dry white wines and sweet, golden dessert wines, depending on the winemaking process.
  • Muscadelle is light, floral, and fruity, with notes of honeysuckle and acacia. The wines are white and dry, and the Graves appellation designates a full-bodied taste. Muscadelle is difficult to cultivate and very susceptible to disease, so it is rarely planted.
Vue du château de la Louvière en Pessac Léognan. Architecture caractéristique du 19 ème siècle à Bordeaux. Mais la vigne est présente depuis beaucoup plus longtemps sur ce vignoble iconique

The châteaux of Pessac-Léognan

The Pessac Léognan appellation today includes almost 75 chateaux and estates, including all the Crus Classés of the Graves region. The most famous among them is the Château Haut-Brion, whose Premier Grand Cru Classé status dates back to the origin of the classification in 1855. This great distinction is shared with Château Margaux, Château Latour, Château Mouton Rothschild, and Château Lafite Rothschild, all of which can be found along the “1855 Route”.

Among the better-known chateaux of Pessac is found the Chateau Pape Clément. The thirteenth-century vineyard spreads over 63 hectares of land. Its most famous former owner, Bertrand de Goth, the archbishop of Bordeaux, was elected Pope in 1305 and took on the name of Pope Clément V. The chateau bears his name to this day. A visit to Chateau Pape Clément promises the discovery of seven centuries of history among the magnificent vines and sumptuous estate garden.

Reserve your visit to the most beautiful châteaux in Pessac Léognan

Live an unforgettable experience with family or friends on the roads of Pessac Léognan! You’ll travel the vineyards abord a vintage 2CV, accompanied by your guide Laurent, an expert in the history and terroir of the region. We offer a hitherto-unseen tour of the winemaking country of the Pessac Léognan appellation.

Discover the chateaux of Pessac Léognan with Bordeaux ChâteauxYou’ll be won over by the historic and oenological heritage of the area.

Tour and visit of the châteaux of Pessac Leognan

Our guide, Laurent, will be your chauffeur on your journey from chateau to chateau. Between the stories and the landscapes, you’ll be satisfied beyond a doubt! You’ll have the opportunity to taste the best wines presented by the famous winemaking estates of the South-West of France.

A visit not to be missed

On our tour, you’ll discover an exceptional selection of chateaux curated by our guide. Chateau Pape Clément, the most unmissable estate in Bordeaux, will open its doors for you, offering a visit and wine tasting session. Chateau la Louvière, with its unique history, is ready to do the same. And plenty of other surprises await!

Of course, if you are looking for that special bottle to crown your collection, you will have the opportunity to peruse the lovely boutiques of Pessac Léognan and find the perfect wine to complete your cellar.

Our Graves châteaux

Château Pape Clément
Découvrez ce château classé AOC pessac léognan et figure au classement des vins de Graves de 1959.
Château La Louvière
Découvrez le château La Louvière, monument classé historique depuis 1991.
Château La Solitude
Découvrez le château La Solitude, un domaine important parmi les Graves.
Château Olivier
Découvrez le Château Olivier, domaine viticole de 220 hectares situé à Léognan.
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