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Château Pichon Longueville de Lalande is ideally situated between the Gironde estuary and the Atlantic Ocean. The variety of parcels of land, due to the elements of the earth and their encepagement explains the complexity of the personality of the wines of Pichon. Since the end of the 1970's, the reputation of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande has acquired the status of a "super second" and a "nearly first", in light of the consistency of its quality.
The unique encepagement and the twelve hectares of vines situated on the soils of St Julien endow the wines of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande with an exceptional personality compared with the other crus of the Pauillac appellation. Complexity, elegance and longevity are the hallmarks of this race, they are found every year during the creation of the vintages..
The nose is distinguished by a bouquet of aromas, mixing blackcurrant and violet, vanilla and cinnamon. In the palate, the tannins appear mature and melted, revealing a strong and affirmed structure, a surprising suppleness, perfect harmony and long persistency. The wine is seductive when young without prejudicing its longevity. James Laubé of the Wine Spectator baptised Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, "A First Class Second Cru", a most fitting tribute...
Pichon-Longueville Lalande is a 75-hectare property that produces on average 36,000 cases per year. Located in the east of the Pauillac appellation, the vineyards (Cabernet Sauvignon 45%, Merlot 35%, Cabernet Franc 12%, Petit Verdot 8%) lie on deep gravel beds underpinned by clay and then sandstone and limestone (part of these vineyards actually reside in the St-Julien appellation). The wine is fermented in stainless steel cuvées and then matured in oak barriques (50% new) for 18 months.
Pichon-Longueville Lalande is not as powerful or as tannic as some its Pauillac neighbours and this is mainly because of its relatively high Merlot content. In the best years, it is one of the most exotic and voluptuously scented wines of the Médoc. At least a decade of cellaring is required before the wines should be approached.
1996 A perfect combination of power and elegance. The body is rich and dense with soft tannins. The palate, just like the nose, displays an almost endless complexity.
75% Cabernet Sauvignon
5% Cabernet Franc
5% Petit Verdot
Mild winter with just one day of snow. Rainfall in the spring was well below the seasonal average (and remained so until mid-August).
Temperatures in March and April were slightly above the seasonal average. Some rain and a drop in temperature on June 21st and 22nd caused a few pollination problems in the Merlot and the Cabernets. Good flowering of the Petit Verdots.
Mid point of flowering June 7th
A fine, hot summer, but the second half of August was rainy.
Mid point of changing color August 12th.
Beautiful weather in September, cool but very sunny. Good climatic conditions for a slow and even maturation of the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Harvest September 24th.
The 1996s stand as a “classic” Bordeaux year, although – as Jancis Robinson MW has written – not in the “skinny” sense; although Farr Vintners’ director, Tom Hudson, told the drinks business that it was perhaps a “very good” rather than a “truly great” year as it wasn’t uniformly excellent across the region.
By way of a recap, 1996 was a particularly sterling vintage for Médoc wines. The Berry Bros & Rudd website extolls: “This is one of the great post-war vintages for Médoc Cabernet-based wines. They are rich, complex and beautifully balanced wines, packed with ripe, pure fruit and have the structure that will allow the top wines to age well into the next decade and beyond.”
The Right Bank by contrast are described as “distinguished” but “overshadowed” by the ‘95s – which was an especially good vintage for Saint Emilion and Pomerol.
It was also an excellent vintage for white Bordeaux.
Robert Parker’s scores tend to favour the Left Bank, though a few of the very best wines of the Right Bank received very respectable reviews as well.
Only two wines received 100-points: Lafite and Latour, Margaux was rated 99, Léoville Las Cases 98, Ducru Beaucaillou 96 and Pichon-Comtesse 96.
La Mondotte was the highest rated Right Bank wine on 97-points, Ausone was the next best rated on 93 as was L’Eglise Clinet, while Gomerie, Petrus and Le Pin settled for 92 and Cheval Blanc for 90.
With the passage of nearly 20 years, the wines have naturally appreciated and now that they are well into their drinking window demand will almost certainly begin to push prices up even further for the most in-demand among them.
The figures are often impressive, to date Lafite has seen a rise of 657.9% since its release, its second wine Carruades is up 592%, Latour has risen 437%, Petrus 400% and Pichon Baron 240%.