A tasting of wines from 2019 put on by the UGCB last November reinforced my impression of the fine quality of this vintage. I majored on the left bank, having covered the right bank more comprehensively during primeurs tastings back in 2020. Looking over my notes, the wines have certainly retreated into their shells since bottling. Many were quite backward and reticent, especially in Pauillac and St Julien. During primeurs, I felt like 2019 was a mythical blend of 2010 and 2009. They had the intensity of the former with the fruit and texture of the latter, with overall finer tannin and less extraction than back then. Right now I’m wondering if 2019 isn’t closer to a modern 2005, that is to say pretty serious, structured and long-term but with sweeter tannin texture than ‘05. Still, this is a generalisation and that comparison is not true in all cases by any means. Not all Pauillacs and St Juliens were backward for example and there were some especially lush wines in Margaux and the Haut-Médoc for instance. So it’s a complex picture. If you’ve tucked into 2019 [like me] there is certainly nothing to worry about, except that you might have to wait a little longer for the wines to open up than we first imagined. I’ll obviously follow up with more detailed posts by appellation, but in the meantime what were the overall highlights?
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande’
Alongside St Julien, Pauillac is one of the most consistent appellations in Bordeaux. On the basis of the eleven shown by the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux [UGCB] in October, 2018 is an exciting vintage for Pauillac. The fruit is sweet; the tannins ripe and super soft. Oodles of blackcurrant fruit and cassis gives the taster the classic stamp of the commune but also obviously of a super ripe year. In some ways these 2018s reminded me of the 2009s at a similar stage. Ultimately I think the Pauillac 2019s that follow will pip this vintage in terms of freshness and overall sophistication but, nevertheless, the 2018s are excellent. The vintage has produced enjoyable wines here that will provide pleasure early on yet importantly have the fruit to last. No surprises in the top wines. For me Pichon Baron, Pichon Lalande, Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Lynch Bages lead the field, with Batailley up there too, continuing its excellent run of fine vintages in this past decade.
A baker’s dozen from Pauillac feels a sufficiently good cross section from which to draw conclusions. And on the basis of these, Pauillac has had a pretty sensational year in 2019. Stylistically the very top wines feel like a combination of 2009 and 2010, with a fraction less extraction and even greater emphasis on purity. I’ve already posted individually on remarkable wines from Château Pichon Lalande and Château Pichon Baron but exceptional Pauillacs have also been made at Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Château Batailley. These are real crowd pleasers in 2019. Both châteaux have extremely popular followings and have been well priced too in this release campaign. Batailley continues its run of great form across the decade. It has finesse, sophistication and purity. Grand-Puy-Lacoste is a real treat. It has wonderful fruit and texture. Surely ‘GPL’ remains the best value fine wine in all Bordeaux? Talking of value, do consider Château Fonbadet and Château Pibran in 2019. Both have produced impressive wine. Other successes include Château Lynch-Moussas and Château Grand-Puy Ducasse. 2019 is also a good vintage to consider so called ‘second wines’ by the looks of it. Lacoste Borie from Grand-Puy-Lacoste is wonderful, Pichon Lalande’s Reserve was knockout and Les Tourelles de Longueville and Les Griffions from Pichon Baron also impressed.
Wow! Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande is certainly one of the wines of 2019. It may very well become the wine of the vintage. The grand vin is extraordinarily compelling. It has fabulous levels of concentration and extract but isn’t the slightest bit heavy or overdone and tastes firmly of Pauillac. And while it weighs in at over 14%, it remains fresh and energetic. The tannins are suave and remarkably supple. Winemaker Nicolas Glumineau describes it as a ‘miracle’ wine. For him, his top benchmark previously was the 2010 vintage, but Glumineau feels he now has reached a new level in his own winemaking experience. “2019 is my personal benchmark now. Everything is in balance. There is great concentration but no heaviness. The juice was thick, full of flesh, but not in the bodybuilder sense, the fruit was fresh but not at all jammy.” If the grand vin is terrific Pauillac, Pichon Lalande’s ‘Reserve’ is also very impressive. It represents 50% of the overall crop at Pichon Lalande and was very competitively priced on release. Exciting wines here for sure. I’ll report later on Château de Pez, under the same ownership, in a later post on St Estèphe.