Chateau Pichon-Lalande is an amazing Estate in the heart of the where great Bordeaux comes from. They have 89 hectare of vines. Their neighbours are Pichon Baron (they used to be one Estate!), Chateau Latour, Leoville Las Cases and Leoville Poyferre. Of interest is that 11ha is actually within St-Julien, which might help explain their house style. The vineyard is roughly 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Experiments with organic and biodynamic practices are carried out on different parcels. And drastic replant is still taking place to make sure the rootstocks, varieties and terroirs all work together to make the best wine possible. The average vine age is an impressive 45 years, which is another reason these wines are so good.
And anyone who has tasted Pichon Lalande knows that their dedication to and investment in constant improvement is immediately evident. Layered, elegant, textural, concentrated, balanced and delicious. This is the Chateau that I feel definitively sums up everything that is great about Bordeaux.
“Now at 30 years of age, there is a gulf between the two Pichons in this vintage that no longer exists. The 1986 Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande has long been one of the best wines from the estate alongside the 1982 (even if the first bottle was a little oxidized). The second bottle was representative. It has a classic pencil-lead, cedar-infused nose that rockets from the glass, a subtle floral note developing with time. The palate is medium-bodied with supple red berry fruit, a pinch of white pepper and cedar, structured compared to coeval vintages and perhaps further along its drinking plateau than previous examples. Certainly à point, I would be reaching for bottles of this now if you cannot locate those 1982s, or alternatively seek out the superlative 1996. This still remains a fine, rather regal Pichon-Lalande. Tasted July 2016.” Score: 95 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (228), December 2016
The powerhouse of the Left Bank. It contains three of the five first growth wines. And a wealth of other great Chateaux beyond that. It combines the cool charm of St-Julien to the South and the rugged richness of St-Estephe to the North and makes the wines that are often thought of as classic Bordeaux. Cabernet Sauvignon reigns here and expect wines that are built to last 40 years in a great vintage.
The noble variety of Bordeaux’s left bank. Firm tannins, a streak of acidity and punctuated by flavours of cassis, violets, spice and leather. The best examples can age for the long term. Although Cabernet does often require blending with Merlot, Cabernet Franc or Shiraz to fix the hole it has in its middle palate.
It gets a tough time most of the places it is grown. But in Pomerol and Saint-Emilion Merlot not only dominates but makes some of the best wines in the world. Perfume, silky and plush. Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon season the wines with structure and acid but in some places, like Petrus they are almost not needed.
A late storm made it difficult for producers. The large crop that had already suffered hot, dry conditions now faced looking dilute and thin. The great producers left their Cabernet on the vine and were rewarded with a good result. The top producers, especially around Pauillac made wines that are still drinking wonderfully at 30 years of age.