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    Roast Duck Breast with Dried Cherry Sauc

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Jacques Thienpont has been making miniscule quantities of this fabulous Pomerol since 1979. Such is the worldwide demand that it is one of the most expensive wines on planet earth. The 'Romanée Conti of Bordeaux', is elevaged in mainly Seguin Moreau new oak and made from 100% Merlot. However this is no blockbuster "vin de garage", Le Pin is intense yet delicate with exceptional purity.

Jacques Thienpont was in good spirits when we visited to taste on 6th April and is clearly very proud of his exceptional 2010 Le Pin. It was a small crop due to cold wet weather during flowering which particularly affected the older vine Merlot in the vineyard reducing potential yields. But there's no problem with the quality here and no doubt (in our mind) that 2010 is the superior to the excellent 2009 if that is possible….?

The wine is 100% Merlot and the grapes were harvested (quite early) in two days on 24th & 25th September 2010. The wine is being aged in 100% new oak barrels.

Cherry red in colour, the wine exhibits a highly perfumed and intense nose of violets, cherry blossom and sumptuous creamy sweet vanilla. Wonderfully precise, pure and complex. On the palate, stylistically the wine is a complete contrast to another 100% Merlot wine - the magnificent Petrus tasted just up the road. Where Petrus is a 'fire and brimstone' kind of wine with huge impact, mouth coating structure and intensity and loads of everything, Le Pin is all about purity, precision, elegance and finesse. It is a beguiling and deceptive wine as behind an apparently delicate façade lurks surprising concentration, structure and density. So balanced is the wine that we were amazed to learn that it packs an unusually high 14.2% alcohol (the level was only 13.5% in the very ripe 2009 vintage). There is a wonderful core of cassis fruit, fresh acidity and a sumptuous velvety tannin complemented with toasty, coffee bean charred oak flavours. Amazingly clean and fresh on the finish with length that just goes on and on. Grand Vin !

In the vineyard just across from the current temporary cellar, the old house (it could not be called a Chateau!) has been knocked down and a very contemporary looking building which will comprise winery, chai and reception/tasting rooms is currently rising from the ashes and is due for completion in summer 2011. The 2011 Le Pin will therefore be made in Jacques' brand new winery which he describes as "my 65th Birthday present to myself !".

Score: 19 Farr Vintners, April 2011


The Story

Château Le Pin, or simply Le Pin, is an unclassed Bordeaux wine from the appellation Pomerol. There has never been an official classification of Pomerol. Even so, Chateau Le Pin commands prices that put it at levels equal to the best wines of Bordeaux. The unusually small estate is located on the Right Bank of France’s Gironde estuary, and its wine is periodically one of the world's most expensive red wines. Le Pin was the first of the "garage wines" or microchateau that have become cult collector wines. These wines defy the traditional classifications.

Madame Laubie, whose family had owned the plot since 1924 sold the vineyard in 1979 to the Belgian Thienpont family for 1 million francs. Developed by Marcel and Gérard Thienpont on less than 2 hectares, wine was produced by microcuvée from a farmhouse basement. The property was given the name Le Pin by the Thienponts from a solitary pine tree that shades the property. By acquiring tiny adjoining plots of land, Jacques has doubled the size of Le Pin to five acres.

Occasionally the most expensive wine in the world, continually receiving high ratings from wine critics and produced in extremely small numbers, Le Pin bottles are a constant presence on the wine auction market. Le Pin produces just 600 to 700 cases each year.
Currently managed by Jacques Thienpont, additional tiny plots of land have been acquired. Some years no wine is produced.


Wine Information

Made from 100% Merlot (one percent for each rating point I've assigned), this wine is explosively rich and compelling. Dense plum/purple, it boasts the remarkable delineation and freshness that are hallmarks of this vintage. From a much smaller production than normal because of Merlot's poor flowering, the very hot, dry growing and harvest conditions, this is a super-endowed, very rich Le Pin with its exotic new oak largely buried behind its extravagant concentration, power and richness. I don't know what its natural alcohol level is, but I suspect it is pushing 15% in 2010. Rich, tannic, but exceptionally well-endowed, this is a sublime example of Merlot at its very finest. Forget it for 5-7 years (which is somewhat unusual for Le Pin) and drink it over the following three decades.

Score: 100 Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (205), March 2013


2010: The 2010 Le Pin is 100% Merlot, aged in 100% new oak, but the Thienponts never want to hear that this is one of those "cult wines." It has been widely imitated by others thanks to its enormous success, and as I have written many times, it is a relatively exotic take on Bordeaux. The 2010 is the darkest colored Le Pin I have ever seen - black purple, no doubt due to tiny yields and the very small berries that were the result of the drought of 2010. Uber-concentrated, with fabulous cassis and black cherry fruit, licorice, and notes of subtle smoke and toast, the wine is full-bodied, with sweet tannin and remarkable thickness/unctuosity. It should prove to be one of the longest-lived Le Pins made in its first 30+ years of existence. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2030+.

Score: 96/98 Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (194), May 2011


Tasted blind, the Le Pin 2010 stick out like...well...a pin. The fruit is incredibly intense, much more so than just over a year ago, adorned with a hypnotic floral element that just explodes from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied and comes out of the blocks sprinting with vibrant spicy black fruit laced with cracked black pepper. The tannins feel firm in the mouth, lending this wondrous structure and precision, whilst the finish is extraordinarily long. Fabulous - Jacques Thienpont's wine is just getting into its stride. Tasted January 2014.

Score: 97+ Neal Martin, RobertParker.com, February 2014


Jacques Thienpont has crafted an impeccable 2010 Le Pin. Cropped at 34hl/ha and offering 14.2% alcohol, it has a sumptuous bouquet of luscious blackberries and bilberries, crushed stone elements and a touch of cassis. It has certainly comes out of its shell since its showing in barrel. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, a sweet core of boysenberry and dark plum fruit, fresh acidity and a silky smooth, quite precocious cassis-driven finish that is long and sensual in the mouth. This is a beautiful '10 Pomerol that deserves a decade in bottle. Tasted November 2012.

Score: 95 Neal Martin, RobertParker.com, February 2013

The sample taken from a blend of young vines and old


Vintage 2010

Drought and cool temperatures contribute to optimal ripeness

The sum of summer temperatures in 2010 was close to that of summer 2009 (962°C compared to 982°C), but decidedly chillier than those of 2005, which totalled 1052°C. These cool temperatures had a substantial influence on the balance of our wines, preserving a good level of acidity and attractive aromatic freshness. 

Very little rainfall (only 267 mm) from March to August 2010 generating a drought of similar intensity to that of 2005, when only 227mm of rain fell. 

Another feature of the 2010 vintage is the low temperatures above all in the first three weeks of August, which made for the preservation of good levels of acidity in the grapes while also maintaining attractive aromatic freshness.


Average Bottle Price

2015 2014
2 890€ +3.7% 2 788€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Latest Pro-tasting notes

29 tasting notes

Tasting note


Deep and Healthy


Long, Round and Flavorful


Youthful, Pure and Opulent




Average in Acidity, High alcohol content, Perfectly balanced, Well-Integrated, Complex, Vigor, Elegant and Vivid


Transparent and Masterpiece

Written Notes

Blend from different barrels. Very dark crimson and voluptuous. Lovely combination of richness, savour and freshness. A big step up. Fresh minerality on the finish. Jacques Thienpont was worried about the Merlots, and Alexandre Thienpont encouraged picking here so that he could pick at Vieux Château Certan. Most unusual freshness. Sinewy. Really racy but with great density. Had two Oz oenologists on hand in case they needed help in alcohol reduction but in the event didn’t need to use them. Jacques says he would like to have waited a little longer but the results aren’t too bad, are they?

  • 93p

Sublime nose of chocolate mixed with beautiful black cherries, violets, silky palate filled with black cherries, astonishing richness, balance and structure.

  • 99p
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Pomerol, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality


Value For Money

Best buy

Investment potential


Fake factory


Glass time



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 Le Pin 2010  has updated wine and vintage information

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