We shift our focus to some of the storied houses of Bordeaux this week on Washington Wine Blog. A few weeks back I visited Chateau Pichon Baron, one of the famed properties on the left bank of Bordeaux. Château Pichon Longueville Baron was classified as one of fifteen Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths) in the original 1855 Bordeaux wine classification. Pichon Baron was once part of a larger estate, owned by Pierre de Rauzan and alongside Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. The estate was then divided in 1850 into the two current Pichon estates. While quality remained not as strong as its neighbor, a big change came in 1987 when the estate was bought by a French insurance company AXA which transformed the quality of the wines. Jean-Michel Causes of Chateau Lynch-Bages became the winery administrator which greatly improved quality of this historic estate. Pichon Baron is currently managed by Englishman Christian Seely.
The winery has 73 hectares which are largely planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot (40%) with smaller portions Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot with average vine age at 30 years. The vineyard is situated at the southern end of the commune of Pauillac near border with the Saint-Julien-Beychevelle appellation. Current winemaker, Alexandra Lebossé, joined Château Pichon Baron in 1999. Assistant technical director and then cellar master since 2007, she became winemaker in 2017.
I have been enchanted by these wines, particularly those from the mid-90s and on. I fondly remember a bottle of 2001 Chateau Pichon Baron that I enjoyed in Los Angeles a few years back. The wine was truly one of the great wines from that challenging vintage. While visiting Pichon Baron I had the great opportunity to try several wines and I was blown away with the new release of Chateau Pichon Baron, their 2016 (WWB, 95) which is backwards and austere now but shows loads of potential with an incredible core and earthy tones. These wines age brilliantly and I had the chance to revisit the 2010 Chateau Pichon Baron (WWB, 96) which is a massive wine from this incredible vintage in Bordeaux. The wine was starting to hit its stride with dense dark fruits and incredible complexity. Learn more about this famed chateau at https://www.pichonbaron.com Here are my reviews of the recently Chateau Pichon Baron wines.
2016 Chateau Pichon Baron ‘Les Tourelles de Longueville’ Red Wine- The wine is Pichon Baron’s second wine where they have bene producing since 1987. This primarily Merlot (58%) with smaller portions Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and a touch of Petit Verdot. The wine begins with aromas of red currant jelly blackberry cobbler and mocha. The palate shows good freshness with mocha, anise and creme de cassis flavors. This shows really good density considering the vintage. The freshness and salinity to the wine is outstanding. Drink 2019-2035- 91
2016 Chateau Pichon Baron ‘Les Griffons de Pichon Baron’ Red Wine- This wine has only been produced since 2012. The wine is 52% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder Merlot. The nose is seductive with blackberry cobbler, coffee grounds and anise. This has really good dark fruit flavors and grip and acidity as it has a ling way to go in the cellar. Try to resist this great wine for the next two years. Drink 2021-2040- 92
2016 Chateau Pichon Baron- This was 85% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder Merlot. A gorgeous Bordelaise nose greets you with green bell pepper, anise, creme de cassis and graphite. The palate is smooth and seductive, with racy acidity. This has a huge core with copious dark fruit flavors with coffee grounds and anise and exotic spice undertones. Rich and layered, this gorgeous wine needs a lot of time as it comes of slightly austere right now. Dense and highly tannic, your patience will be rewarded. Drink 2025-2045- 95
2015 Chateau Pichon Baron- This wine was comprised of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon with the remainder Merlot. The wine was aged in 80% new French oak prior to bottling. The nose is highly seductive with gorgeous blackberry liquor, mocha, graphite and creme de cassis with hints of tar on the nose. The mouth-watering acidity and salty to the wine is simply outstanding. Mocha, anise, cedar and mocha flavors all come together beautifully. Modern and plush, with incredible acidity, and firm tannins, this will be an exceedingly long lived wine. Drink 2025-2050- 96
2010 Chateau Pichon Baron- This wine has marvelously evolved at the nine year mark. On the nose this hits you with green bell pepper, anise and graphite tones that awaken the senses. The texture to this wine is simply astounding. With beautiful acidity, the wine shows incredible balance and roundness. The palate shows amazing freshness with rich dark fruit flavors with exotic spice and firm tannins rounding out this beautiful wine. Complex and delicious now, this beautiful wine will continue to evolve for two to three more decades. Drink 2021-2050- 96