Tasted twice at the Pauillac UGC and at the chateau. This has the dubious honour of being the first wine we can remember showing better at the UGC than the Chateau. Based on the Union tasting, this has gorgeous aromatics of violets, incense and cherry blossom. The palate is exquisite with bright crème de mûre and wild bilberry flavours interspersed with boysenberries. There is a huge amount of high quality fruit, with an impressive finish of bright red damsons, loganberry, graphite and Valrhona shavings. Unusually, the sample tasted at the chateau was big and burly, but displayed less vibrant fruit and more unsophisticated tannins. This was probably just an anomaly.
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.