We were fortunate to taste in the Chateau as the builders are in and the old tasting room is off limits. Nicolas Glumineau, formally of Montrose, is well used to big construction projects... Pichon Lalande is building a new vat room and barrel cellar. As is the fashion, everything will be transferred by gravity and Nicholas will have the ability to vinify plot by plot. The 2012 Reserve de la Comtesse, a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot is a delicious, seductive, juicy effort, with hints of sandalwood, Cabernet perfume, gravel and flowers. There is lots of ripe, appealing Merlot fruit on the mid palate and well worked tannins. Silky and easy.
The two Pichon Chateaux stand guard at the entrance to Pauillac from St Julien. These two formidable structures on opposite sides of the D2 are two of the most iconic building of the Medoc and two of the most iconic wines. Until recently, Madame de Lencquesaing along with her nephew, Gildas d’Ollone ran this estate with great success. The estate’s vineyards, bordering those of Chateau Latour at the south of the commune have produced many outstanding wines; this is classic Pauillac terroir ideally suited to producing great Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2007, Madame de Lencquesaing sold up to Monsieur Rouzaud of the Champagne House, Louis Roederer. Gildas remained to ensure a steady transition until he retired and Sylvie Cazes, formally of Lynch Bages became the Chateau’s Director. Sylvie is also the president of the Union des Grands Crus
There are currently 89 hectares under vine, 11 of which are actually in St Julien! The dominant varietal is unsurprisingly Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), but there is a slightly unusual 35% of Merlot planted in this region where Cabernet is king. This is a legacy of the previous owners, the Miailhe brothers. Typically, the Grand Vin utilizes a much higher percentage of Cabernet than the plantings would suggest. Despite the changes in personnel, the estate has continued to produce excellent wines and remains one of the pre-eminent ‘Super Seconds’.
The Cabernet Sauvignon domanates the appellation, in fact some might justifiably call Pauillac the most classical expression there is of Cabernet based Claret. It is sandwiched between St-Julien to the south and St-Estèphe to the north, a stone’s throw from the Gironde Estuary. The excellent drainage of the intensely gravely soils are the key to quality, producing some of the world’s most long-lived wines. The First Growths of Latour, Lafite and Mouton-Rothschild are found here, while other great Châteaux include Pichon Baron, Pichon Lalande, Pontet Canet, Lynch-Bages and Grand-Puy-Lacoste.