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Pichon Lalande: The Importance
Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is one of the stars of Pauillac, and one of the original ‘super seconds’ in Bordeaux. Classed as a deuxième cru classé in the 1855 Bordeaux classification, it is recognised that Pichon-Lalande can not only match first-growths, but occasionally outperform them.
Described by Robert Parker as “one of Pauillac’s most consistently brilliant wines”, which “can rival the three famous first growths of this commune”, this estate continues to produce outstanding wines, and quality has never been higher.
Pichon Lalande: The Insight
Some of the best vintages at this estate have been 1982, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2010 and 2015, although the persistently high critics scores throughout the years proves how consistent the quality of the wine being produced at this estate is.
In one of the best vintages, 2000, the wine produced was described by Robert Parker as “dense purple in colour, with loads of coffee, mocha, crème de cassis, and chocolate notes.” This wine is more approachable in its youth than many Pauillacs, although in the most outstanding vintages, the depth of the wine will mean that it will require a certain ageing time, with Parker recommending that the outstanding 2015 vintage be aged for at least 10 years. That particular vintage was described by Antonio Galloni as “a dazzling, towering wine” that is shaping up to be “one of the wines of the vintage.”
A second wine is also produced at the estate called La Réserve de la Comtesse, made in an earlier maturing and ripe style.
Pichon-Lalande cannot avoid comparison to its neighbour, Pichon-Baron, however stylistically, Pichon-Lalande offers a much more feminine and elegant style, whereas the wine produced at Pichon-Baron is more powerful and masculine.
The vineyards at Pichon-Lalande are planted to 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot and are situated beside Château Latour and Château Pichon-Baron. Unusually for the region, Pichon-Lalande uses a higher concentration of old vine Petit Verdot, planted from 1932, which gives the wine unique floral and herbaceous notes and differentiates it from many of the other wines made in the region.
Pichon Lalande: The Background
The two estates of Pichon-Lalande and Pichon-Baron once formed part of one estate called Pichon Longueville. In 1850, Baron Joseph de Pichon-Longueville divided the estate and gave the part now known as Pichon-Lalande to his daughters. The estate remained with this family until the early 20th Century when the estate was purchased by the Miailhe brothers. May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, the daughter of Edouard Miailhe took over the estate in 1978. She made numerous improvements to the estate, including the expansion of the estate from 40 to 89 hectares of vines and under her supervision, the quality of the wine produced at Pichon-Lalande grew exponentially.
The estate was purchased by the Rouzaud family in 2007, who also own Louis Roederer, Domaines Ott and Champagne Deutz, amongst other estates around the world. Before this sale, the estate had been in the hands of only two families for over three centuries, highlighting the estate’s values of consistency and tradition. The new owners implemented many changes at the estate including rebuilding the wine-making facilities and a targeted re-planting programme to ensure that vines were planted in the optimum terroir for the variety. Another renovation took place in 2012, which was estimated to have cost in excess of 15 million euros, showing that no expense is being spared at this estate, something that is reflected in the wine created. Sylvie Cazes, whose family own Château Lynch-Bages, was named the director when the change of hands occurred, and in 2012, Cazes was replaced by Nicolas Glumineau, who previously worked at Château Montrose in St Estèphe.
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