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.
“The 1996 Pichon-Lalande has long been one of the high points of this Pauillac estate and now at 20 years of age it is firing on all cylinders. You cannot have any complaints against the nose: intense blackberry, cedar and graphite, all beautifully delineated, demand your attention. The palate offers exquisite balance, refined and yet intense, the Cabernet Sauvignon clearly in the driving seat but assisted by the Merlot that imparts the crucial fleshy texture on the finish. Red berry fruit, cigar box, mint, juniper berries … this is a complex and riveting Pauillac wine that is going to cruise along its drinking plateau for many years. This is outstanding. Drink 2016-2040.” Score: 96 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (227), October 2016
“What a treat it is to taste these two Pichon Lalandes straight from the chateau’s cellar. The 1996 Pichon Lalande is stratospheric from the very first taste. The deep, layered bouquet alone is deeply transfixing. Smoke, mocha, dark spices, lavender, crème de cassis, a host of dark-fleshed fruits and a touch of warm, resonant sweetness from the French oak draw me in. All of those sensations follow through to the palate, where the wine is massive, intense and totally enveloping. Time has softened the tannins to the point the 1996 is ready to drink, but there is enough sheer concentration here to support another 20-30 years of exceptional drinking. I am not sure I possess the vocabulary to describe just how captivating the 1996 is, but I do know this: If I had an opportunity to pick up a few well-stored bottles I would take it in a nanosecond. Readers holding the 1996 should be thrilled. The 1996 Pichon Lalande is a magnificent wine with plenty of upside. In word: fabulous.” 97 points Vinous (AG) 97+ (2/2016)
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.
One of the classic vintages of the 90’s. These are wines that are in their prime now but are going to hold this plateau for decades to come.