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Bordeaux 2019: Château Pichon Baron et al

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

If 2019 is a Cabernet year, and the conditions certainly favoured the Cabernets, then there is no greater expression of this variety than in Pauillac. The Pichons – Château Pichon Baron and Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande – make for intriguing comparisons each year, competitors set opposite one another over the D2 on the outskirts of the town of Pauillac itself. Château Pichon Baron has produced a thrilling wine in 2019. It is surely the equal of the wines made here in 2009 and 2010. There is power and purity to the Grand Vin and it has the most fine-grained tannins. It is stunning. There are two additional wines that come from this seventy-three hectare estate, Les Tourelles de Longueville, which traditionally is Merlot dominant, and the new Les Griffons de Pichon Baron, more evenly split between Cabernet and Merlot. They represent twenty-eight and twenty-three percent respectively of the estate’s production. Both look very promising in 2019. Château Pibran is the other property AXA Millésimes own in Pauillac. It has produced a wonderfully fresh and appetizing wine which should be on everyone’s radar given the price.

Christian Seely, director general of AXA Millésimes outlines growing season already familiar to readers of this blog. An importantly wet winter was followed by a precocious early start to the growing season. Flowering was a little complex, occurring in cooler weather in June, which caused some flower shatter on the Merlot. By late June dry and hot weather had settled in, ushering in a summer drought. Veraison was quick and even in August and the limited rain in the summer accelerated sugar build up in the grapes, reduced acidity and increased polyphenols. These conditions seriously favoured the Cabernet Sauvignon, the condition of which Seely has described as fabulous. Late September rain softened the skins and allowed for final phenolic ripening, ushering in an evidently remarkable vintage.

The following notes were taken from samples sent to London. I will post later on the dry whites and sweet whites of Château Suduiraut in 2019 [another of the AXA properties]. Château Petit-Village in Pomerol, formerly in the AXA stable, was sold to near neighbour Château Beauregard earlier in 2020.

Château Pibran, Pauillac, 2019

Deep at core: purple at edge; fresh plums and black cherry; blackcurrant too; emphasis on the fruit here; suave; fresh still; stone fruits; like this; almost fruit pudding tones but not at all heavy; like purity; entry softer; this feels more Merlot driven Pauillac; has freshness on the palate; plenty of fruit in the middle; tannins have some grip. Overall though fresh and positive. The wine opened up wonderfully displaying blackcurrants, cassis, some pain grillé tones and ripe plums. This is very fresh and positive Pauillac. [53% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% new oak for 18 months]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2025-2035. 91-93

Les Tourelles de Longueville, Pauillac, 2019

Deeper and substantial in the glass; legs; colour tight to rim; lovely creamy blackcurrant jam tones; very intense fruit compote notes; little jam; almost unctuous; cassis for sure; palate has depth; earthy blackcurrants and plums; plenty of fruit and extract; lacks acidity but very full and tannins savoury and supple; some ink on the finish. This has a lot of texture. Good stuff! [68% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot, 30% new oak for 12 months]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2024-2035. 91-93+

Les Griffons de Pichon Baron, Pauillac, 2019

Mid depth; quite dark at core but less deep than Les Tourelles seemingly; quite gutsy on the nose; some oak; plenty of extract; blackcurrants; some wet stone; oak influence; sweet entry to the palate; plenty of ripe fruit here; more extract and matter than Tourelles and Pibran; sweet fruit though and soft tannins; blackcurrant finish. This works well. [59% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 60% new oak for 18 months]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2025-2035. 90-92+

Château Pichon Baron, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2019

More purple at the edge than Les Tourelles; beautiful aromatics; textbook Pauillac blackcurrants, cassis and more; sumptuous aromatics; seam of pure blackcurrant fruit and cassis; oak nicely interwoven; blackcurrant tones really leap out of the glass; some mineral notes too; really opens up; a beauty [this is surely another 100 point wine here potentially?]; so seductive; entry on the palate is cool; plenty of super refined fruit; simply fabulous composure and poise; wonderful; layers of flavour; blackcurrants; some mineral and graphite but the silkiest of tannins – yet there is a lot of extract here evidently. Wonderful expression of Pauillac. Terrific length. Brilliant wine. [87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 80% new oak for 18 months, representing 49% of production]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2028-2055. 97-100

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