Despite the proximity, the two Pichons are stylistically a world apart. That is not to say that one is better than the other, this is down to personal preference. Pichon Longueville (Baron) is the flagship estate in the AXA empire, and there seems to be a clear decision to produce modern, sexy wines here. Expressive, really perfumed, polished Pauillac bouquet. This possesses stunning texture; ripe cassis attack, fresh, intense and velvety textured. Baron 2009 is almost thick such is its opulence, yet it still retains sufficient lift and structure to balance the mass of fruit. An impressive Baron.
"Revealing incredible quality and performing better than it did from barrel, the 2009 appears to be the greatest Pichon Longueville Baron since the 1990 and 1989. An amazing opaque blue/purple color is followed by scents of spring flowers, graphite, smoky charcoal, incense, blackberries, blueberries and hints of coffee and chocolate. Incredibly intense, pure and flawlessly constructed with extravagant layers of fruit and richness, this offering has developed beautifully under the management of Christian Seeley. It is a voluptuous, opulent Pichon Longueville Baron that may eclipse anything they have made in the past. This brilliant wine should be at its peak between 2018 and 2045." 98/100 Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #199
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. AXA Millésimes, the current owner has overseen the resurgence of this venerable estate. After some lacklustre wines in the 70s and 80s, AXA bought the property in 1987 and enlisted the help of Jean-Michel Cazes have rebuilt the Chateau’s reputation. Jean-Michel stepped down in 2000 and Englishman, Christian Seely has taken the reigns and continues to push the quality level still higher.
Of the 73 hectares of vines, 65% are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% with Merlot. Jean-Rene Matrigon chooses to vinify plot by plot using small fermentation vats and wines are typically aged in 80% new oak barrels. Stylistically, Baron appears to be less classical and more opulent than neighbour Pichon Lalande, however, in bottle the wines adopt a more orthodox Pauillac character. In recent years, Baron has excelled at Southwold tastings and from barrel tastings, with critics and merchants alike heaping praise on the wines – this is an estate at the very top of their game.
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.