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.
Posts Tagged ‘Pauillac’
There is certainly a lot of freshness to the wines in Pauillac in 2017. This is not a generous vintage here for me though. There is a degree of austerity in this vintage, and some properties are decidedly on the angular side. The picks? An impressive wine has been made by Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste. It stood out in the appellation at the UGCB tastings last autumn. I’ve scored the other leading properties slightly below GPL, including Château Duhart Milon, Château Lynch-Bages, Château Pichon Baron and Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. They have all made good wine but they must be seen as modest in relation to the quality of the wines made at these properties in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Château Batailley is also up there for quality, alongside Château Haut-Bages Libéral and both have made decent Pauillac. I was particularly disappointed by Château d’Armailhac and Château Clerc Milon to a lesser degree. Both lacked middle and felt on the austere side. Château Grand-Puy Ducasse also lacked flesh.
2017’s a funny old vintage in Bordeaux. It feels to me like this year is the least successful of the past decade, assuming we forget about the washout 2013 vintage. That’s not to say that there aren’t a number wines that are really impressive now that the 2017s are in bottle. Last October’s annual Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux tasting in London showed some excellent wines in Pomerol and St Emilion, perhaps more so than in the other communes, but there were fine wines to be found in all the appellations. That said many lacked a bit of charm, seemed somewhat austere and lacked mid-palate concentration. Yes, they are fresh. Yes, the acidity is bright and some have a decent zap about them, but, overall, it’s hardly a vintage that sets the pulse racing. The same couldn’t be said for the experience that the vignerons themselves faced in the early part of the growing season in 2017 when devastating frosts wiped out entire crops in St Emilion and Pomerol and did much damage elsewhere, notably in parts of Pessac-Léognan and the Haut-Médoc. Some properties didn’t make any wine at all. It was certainly a nerve-jangling time for growers. Looked in that light, perhaps we must actually see 2017 as something of a success.
I love Château Latour. It has to be one of the most remarkable wines in the world. It is the gold standard to which other ambitious producers of [predominantly] Cabernet Sauvignon all aspire to emulate, if not in style, certainly in substance. That legendary California winemaker Paul Draper spoke frequently of Latour when working on Ridge’s own super Cab, Ridge Monte Bello in the ‘70s and ‘80s, as the Bordeaux he most admired and took inspiration from. The no expense spared approach, financed by billionaire entrepreneur François Pinault, is beyond the pockets of many producers, of course. The same affordability question is true of the grand vin itself. A single bottle of Latour, even in an average year, is still typically more expensive than a top-label washer dryer or fridge freezer. Remarkably, there are even more expensive Cabernets in the world than Latour, but rarely any better. I’ve pulled together notes taken over the last two years at the property – a baker’s dozen of wines from the estate, spanning a number of vintages between 2018-2006.