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  • Country ranking ?

    418
  • Producer ranking ?

    14
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    2020-2035
  • Food Pairing

    Beef

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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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.

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Vintage 2017

Bordeaux 2017 - A year of contrast 

Life isn’t fair and neither is nature. As the earth gets warmer, flowering gets earlier, and the risk of frost damage becomes greater. Not many winemakers can recall the frosts of 1991 first hand, but their legacy is still haunting. When the meteorologists predicted a cold blast on the nights of the 27th and 28th of April, there was a genuine sense of panic. Most with the means deployed bougies, wind turbines, helicopters, lit hay, took whatever measures they could - the rest left it to chance. 

The best protection was provided by nature; proximity to the Gironde and altitude. These by no coincidence at all are the best terroirs. The grand estates of the Medoc such as Leoville Las Cases, Pichon Comtesse and Montrose reported virtually no frost damage at all. Likewise in Pomerol, Chateau Lafleur, Petrus, Vieux Chateau Certan and all the other big names on the plateau of Pomerol were unscathed. There were a few notable casualties such as Cheval Blanc and Figeac, but the damage was far from catastrophic and the resulting wines are both spectacular.

Those situated on low lying vineyards in St Emilion or further away from the Gironde estuary in the Medoc had no natural protection. Here the mercury dipped below the critical level and frost damage was devastating. In places the whole crop was lost. Vignerons had to wait patiently and hope for a second generation bud. In most cases the second generation was futile.

Those partially affected by the frost predominantly lost their least auspicious terroirs and plots planted with young vines, normally designated into second wines and generics. A natural selection if you like… Statistically, 2017 does not make good reading for Bordeaux as a whole; appellations that produce bulk wine were hit hard.  Total output was 3.5m hectolitres, some 40% lower than 2016. However, yields at the top Chateaux are relatively normal and if they are down, it is generally attributed to the small berries caused by the drought conditions in July and August.

 

2017 is best summarised as an early vintage with significant hydric stress. Bud break, flowering, veraison and harvest were all two weeks ahead of the norm. Thankfully there was sufficient rain in June to carry the vines through the drought that was July and August. Average temperatures in July and August were not remarkable, although some Chateaux pointed out that alternating temperatures from warm days to cold days aided ripening. September brought much needed rain and cooler conditions. The nights were particularly cool which helped prevent botrytis and helped retain low pH levels. The latter part of the month saw a return to dry conditions which allowed the Cabernets to attain full maturity.

And what of the wines? Statistics can provide rationalisations, but they can’t tell you what the wines taste like. As Baptiste Guinaudeau says, the 2017s clearly fit into the trilogy of vintages affected by hydric stress, 2015, 2016 and 2017. There is wonderful, refreshing acidity and vitality to the fruit. Alcohol levels very moderate, much like in 2016. The wines are vibrant and aromatic. Due to the small berries, there is good colour and the quality of the press wines is very interesting. As 2017 didn’t have the warmth of 2015 and 2016, they are generally not as broad as their predecessors, however, the key was to extract gently and then use the high quality press wines to fill out the mid-palate. There are scores of successes. Vignerons who have been sympathetic and allowed their terroirs to speak have triumphed. Olivier Berrouet’s Petrus is absolutely outstanding, Chateau Lafleur and Pensees de Lafleur speak of purity and breed, Canon, Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Figeac and Tertre Roteboeuf have all produced worthy successors to their 2015s and 2016s. On the Left Bank, Chateau Margaux is perhaps a class apart, but Mouton Rothschild, Haut Brion, La Mission Haut Brion, Montrose, Pichon Comtesse and Leoville Las Cases are all out of the top drawer, and there are numerous others worthy of mention: Grand Puy Lacoste, Smith Haut Lafitte, Haut Bailly, Leoville Barton, Lynch Bages, Ducru Beaucaillou, Calon Segur, Palmer, Pichon Longueville, Brane Cantenac and Rauzan Segla.

 

One hesitates to use the term ‘classical’ as this expression has been hijacked as a euphemistic idiom for a wash out. 2017 certainly isn’t weak, which will no doubt disappoint those superstitious about vintages ending in seven! There is nothing excessive, they are perfectly mannered, understated yet handsome, rather like a perfectly tailored Saville Row suit. They ooze charm, grace, sophistication and elegance. Some would say they are somewhere between 2014 and 2015, but we didn’t really detect the flamboyance of 2015 in many wines. Perhaps they are more in the image of 2014 with a little bit of the class of 2016. As with the 2016s, there aren’t any real reference points. 2017 is uniquely 2017. Nature has done its own selection, and the results are rather special.

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Tasting note

color

Deep, Purple and Clear

ending

Medium, Round and Pure

nose

Youthful, Pure, Complex and Fresh

taste

Balanced, Well-structured, Good texture, Youthful, Full-bodied, Vigor, Fresh and Fruity

Verdict

Transparent and Sophisticated

Written Notes

Good looking normal size bottle. Colour is purple, and looking clear, deep and youthful . On the nose it is youthful, intense, fresh, complex, round and pure. The taste is vigor, fresh, fruity, refined, full-bodied, with good texture, well-structured, balanced structure and youthful. The finish is medium long, round, pure and vibrant. This wine is transparent, sophisticated and excellent. Perfectly stored bottles are still very worthy and will last well for another 20-30 years.
- (Tasting note created by Tb's AI)
  • 97p

The 2017 Le Pin, which has 100% new oak as usual, was cropped at 32hl/ha with 13.9° alcohol. It has a perfumed bouquet with dark cherries, a touch of blue fruit, cold stone and a hint of incense. This is more opulent than the Vieux-Château-Certan, but with a bit more sensuality if not quite the same degree of complexity. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe tannin, very smooth in texture with red fruit laced with sea salt and a suggestion of iodine. There is certainly good backbone to this Le Pin, although it is so silky towards the finish that it is barely tangible. A more backward Le Pin at the moment compared to the last three vintages but I am fascinated to see how this ages. Tasted twice and showing a little more structure in the second showing. Jacques Thienpont told me that around 500 cases will be produced.

  • 95p

39th vintage, says Jacques Thienpont proudly. ‘We were saved not damaged by the September rains’. Only manual remontage (pumping over).
Deep crimson. Super-fragrant, almost floral, with very fine fruit and some toasty oak. So moreish, sweet-fruited and very silky already. Gorgeously silky and long. Almost a touch of burgundy to the sweet red fruit on the finish.

  • 95p

Tasted in April 2018. This barrel sample was creamy to a great extent, sophisticated, elegant, with fabulous structure and complexity. 100% Merlot. Top, top quality in 2017 vintage for an awful lot of money, but if you can afford it, you will be thrilled! 

  • 99p

Ruby. Anise, fruity, red berries, scented, detailed, blueberries, elegant, floral, minerals, graphite notes. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, fresh, fruity, minerals, detailed, intense yet silky, nuanced, playful, refined, touch of tobacco, long, incredibly long. Subtle yet incredible depth. 97-99

  • 98p

Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Le Pin (100% Merlot) is a little reticent to begin, opening out to crushed black berries, warm black plums and wild blueberries with touches of forest floor, violets, star anise and cast iron pan with a waft of cigar box. Medium to full-bodied, it has a sensuous frame of very ripe, silken tannins and seamless freshness, flaunting a very elegant core of perfumed fruit and finishing with many, many mineral layers. 94-96p

Dark purple red with violet hue and almost black core. Very elegant and persistent nose, complex aroma, wonderful fruit, very precise, hints of mild spices and very discreet roasting aroma in the background. On the palate velvety tannins, elegant fruit, freshness and excellent length. A great wine. 99

  • 99p
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Information

Origin

Pomerol, Bordeaux

Highlights

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