1996 Pichon Baron

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Average critic rating : 90.63 points



Pichon Longueville Baron's 1996 has turned out to be even better than I thought from cask. The high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend (about 80%) resulted in a wine that has put on weight in the bottle. An opaque purple color is accompanied by beautiful aromas of tobacco, new saddle leather, roasted coffee, and cassis. It is dense, medium to full-bodied, and backward, with moderately high tannin, but plenty of sweet fruit, glycerin, and extract to balance out the wine's structure. This well-endowed, classic Pauillac should be at its finest between 2006-2022.|| Wine Advocate.April, 1999



Gorgeous aromas of crushed blackberries, currant and citrus fruit. Full-bodied, with silky tannins and a fruity, herbal aftertaste. A little hollow on the midpalate. Ready to go.--'95/'96 Bordeaux retrospective. Drink now. 25,000 cases made.James Suckling, Wine Spectator 2007



Served with Pichon Lalande 1996 at the Vintners' Company's International Wine Trade Dinner. The wines kept changing in the glass - as did my preference. But here's what I wrote initially. Lead-pencil nose but very slightly scrawny and taut initially. Not especially sweet nor generous but fine-boned and correct. A medium-weight classic that fell away slightly on the finish. Aug 2015, www.jancisrobinson.com, Drink: 2010-2025



Good full ruby-red. Roasted plum, leather and smoked nuts on the nose. Silky and layered in the mouth. Sweet and suave, with a complicating mineral quality. Suggests solid extract but ultimately a wine of very good rather than outstanding intensity. Finishes with fine tannins and persistent, slow-building flavor. Fleshier and more pliant than the '98. May 1999, www.vinous.com

Graphs indicate market price trends as calculated by FINE+RARE’s internal market making system and are for guidance only. E&OE.

Chart showing (to 14/03/2017) market price for 12x75cl standard case:

Pichon Baron 1996
+£1,100.33     (+315.28%) Latest price:  £1,449.33
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Pichon Baron: The Importance

Pauillac’s Château Pichon Baron, formerly known as Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, is ranked as one of the fifteen Second Growths from the Classification of 1855 and is considered one of the "Super Seconds", defined by Jancis Robinson as “best-performing wines that are not actually First Growths”. Located in the heart of the Médoc, it is the next door neighbour of Château Latour and its appearance is one of the most iconic and fairy tale-esque in all of Bordeaux.

Pichon Baron has been described by Robert Parker as “one of the finest values in top-class Bordeaux”, a sentiment that Neal Martin appeared to concur with in his assessment of their 2015: “I don't mind saying it, but this wine is as good as a First Growth. Though prices might not suggest it, wines such as these blur the qualitative lines between ranks of the 1855 classification.”

Top quality leadership over the last few decades has caused, in Robert Parker’s words, a “dramatic turnaround in quality” and now this “historically great Pauillac is achieving ever-greater heights”.

Pichon Baron: The Insight

According to Neal Martin: “Château Pichon-Baron is a powerful, tannic wine…” that ranks “with some of the best in Pauillac”. Some of the wines of the 60s and 70s have been accused of lacking lustre, but as Neal Martin says: “This is undoubtedly a château that has really found its own identity since the late-80's and under the aegis of Christian Seely, is asserting itself as a Pauillac wine to be reckoned with. It has not become a speculative commodity and prices rarely enter the realms of more prestigious estates, which is all the better for those who do not chase labels and adore fine claret.” Later picking, stricter selection, more new oak and the introduction of a second wine in the late 80s resulted in excellent vintages for the Grand Vin in 1989, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010 and many more since.


A second wine, Les Tourelles de Longueville, was introduced in 1986 with grapes coming from the Saint Anne plot. Not only is this an excellent and approachable wine in its own right, but it also offers a reasonably priced window into this château. With more Merlot in the blend, as Neal Martin puts it, this wine “has one eye on commercial appeal”.


In 2012 Pichon Baron introduced another second wine: Les Griffons de Pichon Baron. Quite unusually for Bordeaux, this high-end second wine uses some grapes from the estate’s oldest vines grown on gravel soils, which are also used for the Grand Vin.

Pichon Baron: The Background

Pichon Baron and Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, its neighbour across the road, started life as the same Pauillac estate. Baron Joseph de Pichon Longueville split the property evenly amongst his five children. The two boys received what became Pichon Baron, while the daughters received what is now Pichon Lalande. Interestingly many critics describe Pichon Baron as being masculine and Pichon Lalande as more feminine.


Pichon Baron fell from the family in 1933 and a lack of investment in the 60s and 70s resulted in a challenging period in its history. However, that came to an end when the property was bought by the AXA Millésimes Group – owners of Cantenac-Brown, Petit-Village, Pibran, Suduirat, Quinta do Noval and Domaine de l’Arlot. They instated Jean-Michel Cazes who revamped the estate massively and in a short time it was once again “producing wines of world class quality” according to Jeff Leve of The Wine Cellar Insider. Following Cazes’ retirement, Englishman Christian Seely took over and in Robert Parker’s words: “the high quality has continued unabated.”


Pichon Baron’s 73 hectares are planted on gravel soils with predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, roughly one-third Merlot and a little Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. 40 hectares of the oldest and best vines are used for the Grand Vin.

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