Chateau Pichon Lalande
|Listed Wines||Pichon Lalande|
|Owner||Champagne Louis Roederer|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||15,000 cases|
|Classification||Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths)|
|Second Wine||Reserve de la Comtesse|
|Interesting Fact||The vineyards of Pichon Lalande mainly lie in Pauillac, but some spill into Saint-Julien. Up until 1959 some vintages were labelled Pauillac AOC, some Saint-Julien AOC.|
Next to Ducru-Beaucaillou and Leoville Las-Cases, Chateau Pichon Lalande is one of the most sought-after ‘Super-Seconds’. These estates, regularly outclassing their Second-Growth siblings in quality and occasionally even showing signs of First-growth standard, are currently feeling the benefits of maturing buying behaviour in the Far East. As Asians and buyers in other expanding international markets move away from Lafite, Latour and other inflated Premier Crus, the Super-Second brands are picking up the slack and experiencing the steady, organic growth that comes with Chinese buyers turning their gaze onto labels that represent value. It is this ‘investor value potential’ that Robert Parker was highlighting when he named Pichon Lalande among his ‘Magical 20’ at a tasting of the 2009 vintage in Hong Kong during the latter part of 2011.
The interest generated by Mr Parker’s flagging up of potent investment prospects has already begun to be felt, as has the investment made in the vineyards which has included soil mapping and geological surveys. This has allowed Pichon Lalande to create wines in post-2000 vintages that are on average 3 RPJ points better than those of the previous decade. Of course, credit must go to the stewardship the estate has had under the Rouzard family of the Champagne Louis Roederer firm. Frederic Rouzard, head of Roederer and President of Pichon Lalande, was made 10th place in The Drinks Business’s Luxury Power 50 list of 2011 and knows a few things about fine wine branding. Sylvie Cazes, who was managing director here (as well as being president of the UGCB) until late 2012 also brought a lot of prestige to the estate. She is succeeded by Nicolas Glumineau, formerly of Chateau Montrose.
Voluptuous, feminine and silky are words frequently employed in describing the wine from Pichon Lalande wine, its character beautifully exhibiting the velvety properties of Merlot. Often softer and more approachable in its youth than that of other Medoc producers, it nonetheless ages well. In recent years, the 2009 vintage was one of the most highly scored by Robert Parker, winning a commendable 95-point score:
“A beautiful effort, the 2009 Pichon Lalande, a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, possesses copious mocha, lead pencil, unsmoked, high class tobacco, black currant, forest floor and herbaceous characteristics. It is a deep purple-hued, charming, surprisingly open-knit Pauillac with wonderful freshness, a plump, fleshy mouthfeel, opulence and unctuosity, medium to full body and a well-delineated, luscious style. More elegant than its nearby neighbor, Pichon Longueville Baron, and not as massive in concentration and extract, it is one of the great Pichon Lalandes of the last twenty years.”Robert Parker Jr. 95-points.
The first President of the Bordeaux Parliament, Jacques de Pichon Longueville, gave his name to the estate when he married the daughter of its founder. It remained in the family for almost 250 years, up until the time of the 1855 Classification when it was owned by Baron Joseph de Pichon Longueville. Upon his death the property was split between his two sons and three daughters equally, with the sons’ portion becoming Pichon Baron. Of the daughters, Marie-Laure-Virginie, became most prominently involved in the estate and, married to the Count of Lalande, her name became attached. The Longuevilles held sway until 1925 when a shareholders committee, in which the Mailhe family had a majority stake, took control. Thus it was that full control eventually passed to May-Eliane Mailhe in 1978. She proved to be a fantastic owner- investing heavily, renovating and constantly travelling in an ambassadorial role. Growing older and lacking an heir, she sold the estate to Champagne firm Louis Roederer in 2007, whose Rouzaud family own a number of other estates Bernadotte, de Pez and Beausejour. All these estates are managed on behalf of the Rouzauds by Nicholas Glumineau as of late 2012.
Chateau Pichon Lalande Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Pichon Lalande
One of the monumental wines of the last century is the 1982 Pichon Lalande. Since bottling, it has flirted with perfection, and was a sprinter out of the gate, which gave rise to questions about how quickly it would begin its decline. However, at age 27, it retains all its glossy, rich, flamboyant cassis fruit, chocolaty, berry jam-like notes, and plenty of earthy, foresty flavors. This is a full-bodied, extravagantly rich Pichon Lalande seemingly devoid of acidity and tannin, but the wine is incredibly well-balanced and pure. It is an amazing effort! Release price: ($110.00/case)
What sumptuous pleasures await those who purchase either the 1996 or 1995 Pichon-Lalande. It is hard to choose a favorite, although the 1995 is a smoother, more immediately sexy and accessible wine. It is an exquisite example of Pichon-Lalande with the Merlot component giving the wine a coffee/chocolatey/cherry component to go along with the Cabernet Sauvignon's and Cabernet Franc's complex blackberry/cassis fruit. The wine possesses an opaque black/ruby/purple color, and sexy, flamboyant aromatics of pain grille, black fruits, and cedar. Exquisite on the palate, this full-bodied, layered, multidimensional wine should prove to be one of the vintage's most extraordinary success stories. Anticipated maturity: 2001-2020.The 1995/1996 vintages are two of the greatest back to back efforts Pichon-Lalande has ever produced, including the 1982/1983 vintages.
Sitting next to my former colleague, Pierre Antoine Rovani, at one of the tastings, he commented that he didn’t like the striking green note in the aromatics of this wine, which I didn’t detect at all, and a subsequent bottle at another tasting did not reveal it either. I do think there is a hint of bay leaf and a meatiness to it. In short, I find this to be a spectacular Pichon Lalande. Dense purple in color, with loads of coffee, mocha, creme de cassis, and chocolate notes, this is a somewhat unusual blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, and a whooping 10% Petit Verdot, with a little bit of Cabernet Franc. The Petit Verdot certainly gives the wine more of a tapenade, floral note, which I think can be interpreted by some as herbal. This is a rich, opulent, stunning Pichon Lalande that is beginning to drink beautifully, yet should continue to improve for at least another 10-15 years and last 30 or more years.
The 1996 Pichon-Lalande is just as awesome from bottle as it was from multiple cask tastings. For Pichon-Lalande, the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon is atypically high. This wine normally contains 35-50% Merlot in the blend, but the 1996 is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. Only 50% of the estate's production made it into the grand vin. The color is a saturated ruby/purple. The nose suggests sweet, nearly overripe Cabernet Sauvignon, with its blueberry/blackberry/cassis scents intermixed with high quality, subtle, toasty new oak. Deep and full-bodied, with fabulous concentration and a sweet, opulent texture, this wine was singing in full harmony when I tasted it in January. Given the wine's abnormally high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, I would suspect it will close down. It possesses plenty of tannin, but the wine's overwhelming fruit richness dominates its personality. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2025.
A beautiful effort, the 2009 Pichon Lalande, a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, possesses copious mocha, lead pencil, unsmoked, high class tobacco, black currant, forest floor and herbaceous characteristics. It is a deep purple-hued, charming, surprisingly open-knit Pauillac with wonderful freshness, a plump, fleshy mouthfeel, opulence and unctuosity, medium to full body and a well-delineated, luscious style. More elegant than its nearby neighbor, Pichon Longueville Baron, and not as massive in concentration and extract, it is one of the great Pichon Lalandes of the last twenty years.
The 2006 Pichon Lalande, which blows away the 2005, represents a return to the velvety-textured, rich, sexy style most readers would associate with Pichon Lalande. This blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon and 36% Merlot no Petit Verdot was included in the final blend exhibits a dense purple color as well as abundant aromas of chocolate, coffee, cedar, black currants, and a subtle touch of smoke, a rich, savory, full-bodied mouthfeel, plump, fleshy fruit, and a superb finish. This is a 21st century version of the brilliant 1996. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2030. One of the major disappointments in 2005 was Pichon Lalande, but the change in ownership, with the Roederer/Deutz champagne firm taking control in 2006, resulted in a very severe selection being instituted, only 41% of the production went into the grand vin.
The 2010 Pichon Lalande is performing extremely well and at the top of the range I predicted several years ago. A final blend dominated much more by Cabernet Sauvignon than usual (66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot), the wine is a tighter, more tannic and structured version of this famed Pauillac, which often tends to have more of a St-Julien-like personality than most Pauillacs. Structured, backward and tannic, yet showing a fat mid-palate that is more savory, broader and more expansive than I remember from barrel, this wine is somewhat reminiscent of the 1986, given the Cabernet Sauvignon domination of the blend. Full-bodied, impressively endowed, and less sexy and velvety than normal, this is a somewhat different style of Pichon Lalande than most readers have been used to. Whether you like it more or less will depend on your point of view, but this wine, unlike most Pichon Lalandes, needs a good 5-7 years of cellaring and should keep for 30+ years.
The brilliant, opulent, fleshy 2003 Pichon Lalande (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot) possesses a high pH of 3.8 as well as 13% alcohol. Reminiscent of the 1982 Pichon Lalande (which never shut down and continues to go from strength to strength), the dense plum/purple-colored 2003 offers gorgeous aromas of blackberries, plum liqueur, sweet cherries, smoke, and melted licorice. Fleshy, full-bodied, and intense, displaying a seamless integration of wood, acidity, tannin, and alcohol, this beauty can be drunk now or cellared for 20 years or more.
One of the best wines of the vintage, this is a classic Pauillac that is a blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot. Dense ruby/purple in color with a glorious nose of melted licorice, lavender, barbecue smoke, black currants, and graphite, the wine is tannic, classically structured with an opaque ruby/purple color, beautiful definition, and a 1996-ish personality. This deep, full-bodied, elegant yet powerful 2002 should age handsomely for over two decades. Some patience will be required since this vintage exhibits more muscle and virility than normal. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025.
Just now emerging from a very clumsy dormant period, Pichon-Lalande's dense ruby/purple-colored 1986 still has the color of a 4 or 5 year old wine. This is the most tannic and backward Pichon-Lalande after 1975 and before 1996. The wine was completely closed down until just recently. The wine shows notes of cedar, black currants, earth, spice box, and licorice, followed by a medium to full-bodied, very concentrated, intense palate with a still noticeable tannic structure, a relatively big, muscular style for Pichon-Lalande. Anticipated maturity: Now-2015. Last tasted, 5/02.