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Average critic rating : 93.0 points
Last Tasted 6/92||The huge nose of over-ripe bing cherries, herbs, smoke, and vanilla represents the tell-tale personality of Le Pin. The great sweetness and ripeness of fruit, the lavish, opulent texture, and the chewy, ripe, hedonistic finish result in a memorable tasting experience. This superb wine displays no signs of fading. It should last for another 7-10 years. Wine Advocate.December, 1992
Château Le Pin: The Importance
Château Le Pin is without a doubt one of the most famous names in wine. A vinous icon and one of the three great names of Pomerol alongside Château Pétrus and Château Lafleur, it is one of the rarest, most expensive and finest red wines of Bordeaux – if not the world.
Founded in 1979, Le Pin produces just 600 or so cases per year from a tiny 1.6 hectare plot in Pomerol. The winery roared into life with the 1982 vintage and has astounded collectors and critics ever since; in the words of Robert Parker, “The first vintages were superb, and Le Pin quickly became not only one of the greatest Pomerols but also Bordeaux’s most exotic and luxurious, not to mention most expensive, wine.”
If there is one thing that stands out in people’s minds when discussing Le Pin, it is the price tag. The value of this wine has skyrocketed over the years, causing it to vie with Pétrus for the positon of most expensive wine. However, it isn’t only the wine that has changed price; while Thienpont initially bought the land for a reputed million francs (around €153000), it is now estimated to be worth in the region of one to two million euros per hectare. Similarly, a case of the vanguard 1982 vintage will now set you back more than £50,000, whereas on release it would have been just a couple of hundred.
Château Le Pin: The Insight
Le Pin produces just 600 to 700 cases each year, a truly miniscule number that is dwarfed in comparison to the Right-Bank first growths. For example, Lafite Rothschild produces around 29,000 cases a year. To put this tiny amount into perspective even the relatively rare fellow Pomerol of Pétrus makes around 4,000 cases. This rarity plays a key factor in Le Pin’s exclusivity and value, with the prestigious bottles becoming items that only a few collectors can hope to ever own. Not bad for what started as a one-man endeavour with simplicity at its heart.
Wine experts consider Le Pin’s key advantage to be its unique terroir and soil composition. Consisting of a sandy gravel topsoil on a bedrock of limestone, it is notably different from surrounding vineyards and widely agreed to add to Le Pin’s style. Neal Martin describes Le Pin as “a huge, highly oaked, exotic, hedonistic wine” that is tantalizing, charming and seductive. There are a few odd Cabernet Franc vines in the vineyard at Le Pin but the wine is 100% Merlot and, along with Pétrus, Le Pin can be regarded as the pinnacle of what can be achieved with the grape. Three vintages of Le Pin – 1982, 2009 and 2010 – are rated as 100 point wines by Robert Parker; other top vintages are 1990, 2001, 1989 and 2000.
Château Le Pin: The Background
Despite its modern day glamour, Le Pin started life with humble beginnings. The land was owned by the Loubie family for over five decades from the 1920s, during which time its wine was sold as generic Pomerol. The vineyard was then bought in 1979 by Jacques Thienpont, part of a Pomerol dynasty who also own Vieux Château Certan. Jacques bought the vineyards for a relatively small amount, a price which now seems absurd for Bordeaux’s most coveted wine.
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