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News

2014 Harvest in our properties: Conclusion

DECEMBER 5, 2014 CHRISTIAN SEELY

The report of Cédric at Mas Belles Eaux finishes our harvest reports of 2014: we have now heard from each property.

In Bordeaux some marvelous results for the reds, classic fresh and balanced, in the style of the 2008s and the 2010s, and closer to the 10s than to the 08s. At Suduiraut, some great wines in the style of the 2001s and the 2011s, even if the quantity of Sauternes is very small.

In Burgundy also an excellent quality, and yields a little more correct than in the past few years.

In Tokaj, a difficult year, with very reduced yields, but a small production of very good Aszú wines.

In the Languedoc, the deluge just before the harvest complicated matters considerably, and reduced yields, but a very strict selection enabled us to make some good wines, particularly Grenache (red and white) and Syrah.

Finally, at Quinta do Noval, even if we just missed a very great Vintage on account of a week of rain during the harvest, some exceptional grapes were harvested before the rain, and even afterwards there are some very good wines, both Port wines and unfortified.

Globally, a favourable verdict on the 2014 vintage.

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History

Château Pichon Longueville, or Pichon Baron as it is often called,  is known as "the male" part of the original Pichon Longueville property that got divided in 1850, not only due to the fact that the male heir inherited this part but also because it is a more "manly" wine in character than its sister, Pichon Lalande, across the road.

Pierre de Masures de Rauzan, known as the "Sorcier de la Vigne", a distinguished member of the Bordeaux Parliament had early realised the value of premium wine and started to aquire vineyard land during the second half of the 17th century. He bought the land near Château Margaux, where now Rauzan Ségla and Gassies lie in 1661. A few years later, knowing the quality of Château Latours wines, he acquired land nearby where now the two Pichons lie.

His daughter, Thérèse, married Jacques de Pichon Baron de Longueville in 1694 bringing these lands, that her father had now started planting with vines, into the marriage.

 

The reputation of the wines grew and by the middle of the 18th century it received prices similar to those of the wines from the châteaux now known as Mouton Rothschild, Gruaud Larose, Ducru Beaucaillou and Beychevelle.

The legendary Joseph de Pichon was born in 1755 and survived the terrors of the french revolution by hiding in the kitchen oven of the château for eight days and he remained to live to the ripe age of 95. He had five children, two sons and three daughters. Under the new Napoleonic inheritance laws any property had to be divided equally between all children and to avoid legal fights after his death Joseph divided the property between his children during his lifetime in the 1830s.

His son Raoul inherited two fifths, his and that of his brother who had earlier died unmarried. Three fifths went to his daughters Sophie who became a nun, Gabrielle and Marie-Laure who married the Comte Henri de Lalande to become the Comtesse de Lalande. Even though the ownership was legally divided the property was run as one and in the 1840s Marie-Laure built the present building of  Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande (Pichon Lalande) for her and her sisters to live in and in 1851 Raoul started the constructing of the present Pichon Longueville (Pichon Baron) château.  Only on the death of Raoul in 1864 was the property physically divided and two separate wines made.

 

Pichon Baron was to remain with the Pichon-Longuevilles until 1933 when it was sold to the Bouteillier family. The Bouteilliers had interests in several wine properties amongst others Château Palmer, Grand Puy Ducasse and Lanessan which was also the home of Jean Bouteillier in whose hands now the future of Pichon Longueville rested.

 

The reputation of Pichon Baron until the 1960s was superior to that of Pichon Lalande across the road, it was also placed above Pichon Lalande in the Classification of 1855. But on the death of Jean Bouteillier in 1961 its reputation began to sink. His eldest son Bertrand was still young and inexperienced and there was a lack of money for necessary investments leading to a decline in quality of the wines during the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1980s there were signs of recovery but not at the same speed as with many other properties during this time and certainly nowhere near that of Pichon-Lalande that had prospered enormously under the care of May de Lencquesaing to become one of the first "Super-seconds". 

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Vineyards

The area under vines has more or less been doubled since the take-over from 33 to around 70 hectares and here close density of vines with a low yield per vine is practised. It is confusing to read that Pichon Baron now has around 35 % Merlot planted - about the same figure as for Pichon Lalande. This is however not the percentage that is represented in the cuvée of the Grand Vin which as a rule contain about 80 % Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes for this comes mainly from the 40 hectares lying between the château and the border to St. Julien and westwards from there.

Here the soil is of gravel on a subsoil of sand and clay rich in iron. This iron is said to bring the finesse and fine perfume of the wine. The cooler vineyards containing more clay are better suited for Merlot and the major part of this goes into their very good second wine - Les Tourelles de Longueville.  The harvesting machines used by the old regime from 1983 onwards were sold and a strict selection of the grapes that go into the wine is made.

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Winemaking

The wine is spending between 16 to 18 months in an increasingly higher percent of new oak casks, up to 80% in an exceptional vintage and, sensibly, less in weaker vintages. The management of Château Pichon Longueville is, since the retirement of Jean-Michel Cazes in the year 2000, in the hands of Christian Seely and his wine-maker Jean-René Matignon.

All this has led to a great increase in quality of the wines and its reputation so that Pichon Baron now truly belongs to the small elite group of "Super-seconds" - these being wines not belonging to the established Premier Crus but having a greater reputation and achieving prices higher than those of the other classified growths.

The rivalry between the two Pichons is intense and not always neighbourly but it has certainly not harmed the quality of either wine. To me it is more a question of style rather than quality which one prefers. Pichon Lalande is more feminine and immediately charming, drinking well early, while still ageing well. This is partly due to the, for Pauillac, unusually large percentage of Merlot and maybe partly due to its St. Julien "terroir" (it has as a matter of fact a sizeable portion of its vineyards within the St. Julien commune). Pichon Baron used on the other hand to be a masculine, almost robust wine that needed long to come around. In recent years the  better care in vineyards and vinification has led to a more appoachable wine without it losing its classic Pauillac character.

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3 different wines with 52 vintages

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Markus Del Monego MW / Best Sommelier in the World 1998, MW (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  11 wines 

1878 Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte - 100 points. Still lively, bright ruby colour. Excellent and expressive nose, slightly smoky, roasted chestnuts, hints of dried fruit, noble leather, classical style with perfect maturity and very persistent character. On the palate great elegance, depth and length, hints of minerality and a slight metallic hint in the background. A great bottle, close to perfection. 

6d 16h ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  31 wines 

The Finnish summer has not started yet - the sea is still cold (+14c) and it's raining every second day - but the colder the weather is, the better is the taste:)


Here are some summer wines I have tried between the showers.

2m 10d ago

 Dhruv Sawhney, Wine Lover (India)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Vintage 1961 tasting with Mouton, Lafleur, Petrus, Latour, La Chapelle, Palmer etc.

3m 12d ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  126 wines 

Every now and again one stumbles across a paradox that confounds the accepted natural order of things. The 2016 Bordeaux vintage was born out of a growing season that was near-catastrophe and near-perfection. After the Hesperian Dragon’s relentless torment, the Titan God Atlas had seemingly kept the sky aloft with the help of a Phoenix. Following five months of diabolical weather patterns, a warm to hot dry summer arrived in the nick of time, not only saving a vintage, but creating one of the most spectacular vintages in a lifetime.


 The sense of relief in Bordeaux must have been as thrilling as avoiding the bullet of Russian Roulette, or the adrenalin of surviving a base-jump. The razor’s edge has never been so exquisitely fine. While the end result is not always perfect, with the odd abrasions here and there, the overall quality of the 2016 Bordeaux vintage is remarkably consistent with many Chateaux making some of their best wines in 50 years. Typically, the wines have deep colours, pure fruit aromatics, generous saturated flavours, dense rich tannin structures and bell clear acidities. Precision, freshness, elegance, smoothness and “delicate opulence” are words that are being used by various Chateaux to describe their wines.


 The Bordelais are, of course, the world’s greatest spin doctors. They leave snake charmers for dead when it comes to the art of mesmerising. The newly opened and impressive Cité du Vin, which sits on the banks of the Garonne River in Bordeaux, sparkles like a polished turd; a monument to the exaggerations and optimism of this particular type of fine wine game. Momentum is achieved through belief. There is no room for wavering or self-doubt.

5m 5d ago

 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  161 wines 

Bordeaux 2016 vintage!

5m 6d ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Pro (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  30 wines 

My TOP 30 wines of the Bordeaux 2016 vintage.

5m 8d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW / Best Sommelier in the World 1998, MW (Germany)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  272 wines 

BORDEAUX VINTAGE 2016 / Tasting "en primeur" is a challenge every year. The wines tasted are showing a tendency only and it is still the beginning of a longer process of evolution and maturation in the barrels. There might be some changes during the next year and a half until the wines will be bottled, but already today the tendency is quite clear. For most of the red wines it will be an outstanding vintage, a vintage for Cabernet, old vines, limestone and clay soil. It was a challenging year for the vintners. An incredibly wet spring was worrying the winegrowers and at the beginning of June, the spirits were down. However warm and dry weather between June 3 and June 11 creating an close to ideal situation for the flowering and good weather conditions starting in mid June changed the nature of the vintage. The fine weather continued into July and August. The month of August was featuring hot weather and a remarkable amount of sunshine but the absence of rain let to water stress. Heavy rain in mid September set an end to water stress and when the sun returned on September 20 the vintage was saved as there was excellent weather till to the end of the harvest. The effects were various. the white wines are on a good quality level and display fruit and flavour but the acidity is lower than in previous vintages and the white wines show an opulent and rather soft style. The noble sweet wines are extremely pure and are more on the rich and powerful side than on the freshness. For the red wines originating from the right terroirs and old vines, the vintage an be called outstanding. Water stress was managed well on limestone and clay terroirs, Cabernet varieties did extremely well and old vines found water even during the stressful dry periods of summer. In some few red wines the tannins are slightly harsh, almost bitter, a result of water stress and/or intense extraction. In general the red wines are on an excellent level with an advantage for the left bank, mainly the Médoc area, and the classic great terroirs of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. 

5m 11d ago

 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  75 wines 

In 2016 Pauillac has made some excellent wines and on the top, Mouton has made something very special and might be wine of the vintage competing with Petrus. Lots of estate has made excellent wines from Pauillac this year. Saint-Estephe has also made stunning wines and Cos d'Estournel has made one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted from them. Northern Médoc is far better in 2016 than in 2015, but for me, 2016 on a whole delivers more. 2015 for me eas a bit hyped even if the wines were very good indeed. 2016 probably has the edge over 2011 as well that is seriously undervalued in the market, but will give many some surprises for the future.

5m 13d ago

 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  64 wines 

98 wines tasted from Pomerol 2016 vintage, a stunning vintage for the appelation. Petrus might be the wine of the vintage, such finesse! But many others as well. Le Pin, La Conseillante, Clinet, Gazin, Petit Village, Lafleur, L'Evangile, VCC, La Fleur-Pétrus, Trotanoy, L'Eglise-Clinet and many more made stunning wines. Gazin made the best wine they ever did, same with Nenin. Pomerols are beyond seductive in 2016.

5m 19d ago

 Fernando Pessoa, Pro (Spain)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  50 wines 

The Annual Union des Grands Crus Tasting in London - Bordeaux Vintage 2014 - My TOP 50.

10m 13d ago

 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Pichon-Longueville Baron . In a tasting of  39 wines 

I was invited to dine at Da Marco’s, where ten locals had congregated with an assortment of fine wines and company. We started with a couple bottles of 1985 Krug, which got the party started, but I didn’t take any notes.


The notes began with a trio of 2005 Niellons, starting with the Clos St. Jean, which was smoky, toasty with lots of rocks, minerals and ‘gaspipe.’ It was round but balanced, lacking a touch of definition (90). The Les Chaumees was simpler and easier, just OK, not as interesting as the Clos St. Jean (87). The Les Vergers had the biggest finish and the most acidity. It was brighter and the most intense of the three (91).

10m 14d ago

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