Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The Estate was founded in the late 17th Century. This period was known as the Grand Siecle, or "great century", in reference to Louis XIV's 1661 accession to the French throne. In 1689 Pierre Desmezures de Rauzan, an influential wine merchant and steward of the prestigious Latour and and Margaux estates, bought plots of vines close to the Latour estate to create Enclos Rauzan. These vines were part of his daughter Therese's dowry when she married Baron Jacques Pichon de Longueville in 1694, the year in which the Pichon Baron estate was founded. An illustrious estate, with an enduring reputation, was born. It remained in the same family for generations.
In 1850 the property was divided in two. Baron Raoul Pichon de Longueville's section became the Pichon Baron estate. The second section, belonging to his three sisters, became Pichon Comtesse. Baron Raoul was proud of his prestigious property, and in 1851 he commissioned the imposing chateau inspired by Renaissance architecture that we know today. This uniquely charming and romantic chateau, with its two emblematic turrets, has stood proudly at the vineyard's heart ever since. During the Universal Exhibition of 1855, the wine was classed as a Second Grand Cru Classe according to the ranking system requested by Emperor Napoleon III, who wished to showcase Bordeaux's great wines. In 1933, the Pichon de Longueville family sold the property to the Bouteiller family, who managed the chateau for over 50 years.
In 1987 the estate was bought by AXA Millesimes, whose aim is to enable great wines from the vineyards with a glorious past to achieve their full potential. An architectural competition was launched in collaboration with the Paris Pompidou Centre to provide the estate with new operational buildings. The comprehensive reconstruction of the fermenting room and cellar, and renovation of the chateau, began in 1988. Since then, the 19th century chateau's image has been
reflected in an ornamental pool stretching majestically before it.. And since 2008, its silvery expanse conceals an underground cellar, reminiscent of Jules Verne's Nautilus, with view of both the water and sky. The barrel cellar complements a production process in which excellence is paramount, in the finest tradition of great Pauillac wines.
The leader on the Left Bank in number of first growth classified producers within its boundaries, Pauillac has more than any of the other appellations, at three of the five. Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild border St. Estephe on its northern end and Chateau Latour is at Pauillac’s southern end, bordering St. Julien.
While the first growths are certainly some of the better producers of the Left Bank, today they often compete with some of the “lower ranked” producers (second, third, fourth, fifth growth) in quality and value. The Left Bank of Bordeaux subscribes to an arguably outdated method of classification that goes back to 1855. The finest chateaux in that year were judged on the basis of reputation and trading price; changes in rank since then have been miniscule at best. Today producers such as Chateau Pontet-Canet, Chateau Grand Puy-Lacoste, Chateau Lynch-Bages, among others (all fifth growth) offer some of the most outstanding wines in all of Bordeaux.
Defining characteristics of fine wines from Pauillac (i.e. Cabernet-based Bordeaux Blends) include inky and juicy blackcurrant, cedar or cigar box and plush or chalky tannins.
Layers of gravel in the Pauillac region are key to its wines’ character and quality. The layers offer excellent drainage in the relatively flat topography of the region allowing water to run off into “jalles” or streams, which subsequently flow off into the Gironde.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
In the Glass
Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.