Tag Archives: Pauillac

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Pichon Baron: an important tasting in Barcelona

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An important tasting was held at the Cave Vila Viniteca in Barcelona in June 2015, attended by the owner of the cave Joaquim Vilà and his team and four of the key tasters from La Revue du vin de France. The results have just been published in the issue 600 of the magazine (April 2016)*. Joaquim Vilà brought together (buying the wines on the Place de Bordeaux) the wines of the Premiers Crus of Bordeaux and seven other properties, mostly Seconds Crus they considered to be challengers.

The vintages tasted were 1989, 1996, 2001 and 2010.
The châteaux were: Ducru-Beaucaillou, Haut-Brion, Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Léoville Las Cases, Margaux, La Mission Haut-Brion, Montrose, Mouton Rothschild, Palmer, Pichon Baron, Pichon Comtesse de Lalande.

The wines were tasted blind by the panel. I quote from Roberto Petronio’s summary of the results for La Revue du vin de France:
“The most serious of the outsiders to the Premiers Crus is incontestably Pichon Baron. It has to be said that since its purchase by AXA Millésimes in 1987 the property has been transformed and its terroir expresses itself fully in a style that is unanimously recognized.” (…)
“Pichon Baron’s nobility raises it to the highest possible level.” (…)
“This is the most serious challenger to the Premiers Crus. To find it in this position is only an half surprise, given that we have been able to appreciate the extraordinary quality of the wines made here for the last two decades.”

Tasting scores for all the vintages were collated to create an order. The result of this was that Pichon Baron finished in fourth place, behind three of the Premiers Crus, but ahead of two other Premiers, and ahead of all the other challengers. Château Pichon Baron 2010 actually finished ahead of all the other 2010s.

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To emerge ahead of all the Premiers Crus and all the other distinguished challengers was particularly satisfying for this vintage, which was very important to us at Pichon as we consider it to be a particularly pure expression of the Pichon Baron style, the result of many years study of what our finest terroirs can give.

This is obviously encouraging for us at Pichon Baron. As the tasting showed, Pichon has been making great wines again since AXA Millésimes acquired the property in 1987. But the success of the 2010 is particularly striking, as it is confirmation of the potential for greatness of the grand terroir at the heart of our property.

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Since 2000 we have pursued a strategy of extremely strict selection at Pichon Baron, reducing the average quantity of Grand Vin produced by half, with the aim of making Pichon as great as it can possibly be. The basis of our strategy is the fact that at the heart of Pichon’s vineyard lies the great plateau of deep gravelly soils, overlooking the vineyards of Latour on the other side of the road in Pauillac, and Léoville Las Cases just opposite in St Julien. This area of undulating ground of deep beds of gravel has a claim to be considered the greatest terroir in the world for the cabernet-sauvignon grape.

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By reducing the amount of Grand Vin we make, concentrating our blend on wines produced from this great parcel of land, we have aimed to make a wine of quality equal to the best anywhere. We have always known that this was a long term project, and that it might take decades before the change in quality at Pichon Baron was fully recognized. But in recent years people have begun to notice what we have been doing, and a tasting event such as this is an encouraging consecration of our efforts.

One swallow does not make a summer. One successful tasting does not conclusively prove anything. But I trust and hope that there will be others with similar results in years to come.  One of the wonderful things about running a great estate such as Pichon Baron is that the story is never over. When one vintage has safely been harvested, we start to work on the next one. We may take pleasure in the judgement on our wine of people who appreciate these things, but we always know that next year will bring new challenges, new opportunities to try to go even further. We have a clear idea of what we are trying to do at this great property, and we will continue on this path, encouraged along the way by recognition such as that of this remarkable tasting in Barcelona.

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* For more information on this tasting: http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2016/03/tasting-ranks-chateau-margaux-first-among-equals

Images credits: @Château Pichon Baron, deepix, P.A.T, Vinexia

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Tasting Château Pichon Baron 2015 with Jean-René Matignon (VIDEO)

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I found that Pichon Baron was very true to itself in 2015: grand, powerful and profound, a great Pichon in the classical style. I think of it as a synthesis of the 2005 and 2009 wines, with the freshness, depth, and tannic structure of the 2005, together with something of the seductive ripeness of the 2009.

Here is Jean-René Matignon with his impressions of the wine and the vintage.

If you have trouble watching this video, view the web version here

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Bordeaux – The 2015 Vintage En Primeur

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En primeur tasting frenzy is now calming down. Although officially a one week event, in fact it lasts quite a bit longer. It is a time of the year I always enjoy, a wonderful opportunity to taste the wines of others, but above all to taste our own wines with visitors from the wine world from all corners of the physical globe, and to hear what they have to say. This is always fun, but the 2015s have been particularly enjoyable to taste and to talk about.

Enough has already been written about 2015 for it not to be a particularly original revelation to say that I think it is an exceptional year. Above all I find the wines in general hugely enjoyable, hedonistic and exciting. I found it enormous fun to be tasting them, which is not always the case at this stage of their evolution. I think that it was a year that gave the opportunity for a wide diversity of expression, and within the general framework of excellence there is great stylistic diversity, from the exuberant and seductive ripeness of the right bank, to the purity, depth of fruit, freshness and structure of the great wines of the left bank. The Sauternes also are wonderful: harmonious, elegant, balanced, with complex and pure Botrytis. And there are some extremely good dry whites. So in general a generous, satisfying year, a magnificent illustration of the dazzling multifaceted wealth of pleasure that Bordeaux has to offer in an outstanding vintage.

We are of course producers on the left and right banks and in Sauternes. During en primeurs week I tasted the wines with Pierre Montégut at Suduiraut, with Jean-René Matignon at Pichon Baron and with Diana Berrouet-Garcia at Petit-Village. We recorded on film our conversations and their thoughts about their wines and the vintage. This week I will post over three days these short clips, in the hope that it will give something of the feeling of tasting the wines with the people who made them.

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Tomorrow we will start with Pierre Montégut at Suduiraut; on Wednesday we will go to Petit-Village with Diana Berrouet-Garcia; and on Thursday we will finish with Jean-René Matignon at Pichon Baron.

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Primeurs Tasting Week for 2014 Bordeaux (VIDEO)

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We are in the middle of the Primeurs Week here in Bordeaux and we are tasting the 2014 vintage. This is one of my favorite times of the year. The vineyard, which is usually a very peaceful place, is invaded by people from the entire world. Here, at Pichon Baron, for example, we will be receiving around 1300 people in 5 days from all over the world. It is a real pleasure to meet all these people and to taste the new vintage with them.

If you have trouble watching this video, view the web version here

The 30th Marathon du Médoc: the World’s Healthiest Marathon?

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Last Saturday was the 30th Marathon du Medoc. As usual we had a big Pichon Baron team,  with many distinguished runners including Jamie Goode, whose blog on the run you can read by clicking here,  and Yves Bruno the butcher from Pauillac, perhaps the thinnest and fastest butcher in the world, who was second in his category “V2M” in 2h53m42s and 2nd fastest on the Pichon Baron team.  I would also like to give a special mention to Patrice Taris who was the 1st of our runners to finish in 2h45m52s and Cédric Zilligen who was 3rd with a time of 3h38m22s.  The fastest of our lady runners was Céline Nicolle with a very respectable time of 4h10m35s.
Photo butcher
Caption “Yves Bruno the butcher from Pauillac”
As usual there was a joyous party atmosphere. I love this event – it hardly seems right to call it a race, as though many people train hard and run great times, the majority of participants are there just to have fun – because it is a celebration of the truth which seems self-evident if you participate in the event, that wine is a natural and healthy part of a balanced life, in the same way as exercise and physical fitness. The ambiance is festive without being excessive, and indeed how could it be otherwise for thousands of people who are running 42 kilometres on the day. There is an excellent rate of participation from the chateaux, many of whom offer tastings of their wine to the runners, along with more conventional marathon refreshments such as water, glucose and bananas. Personally I avoided the bananas.
The day was especially enjoyable for me as I was joined by my son Alexander at kilometre 18 where he had been waiting for me at Château Pibran with many members of the team from Pichon Baron who were serving Pibran to all the runners who cared to stop for a taste.
Photo CS and Alexander
Caption “Here is Alexander running alongside me.”
We carried on until kilometre 21, when I called it a day. I had a lunch to host at Pichon Baron, and some members of our team get back rather fast. Well that is my excuse for just enjoying the first half of the marathon, and I am sticking to it. We then walked across the vines to the garden of Pichon Baron, and welcomed the members of our team as they progressively came in.
It was a wonderful day, and as always a triumphant affirmation of the idea that a reasonable balanced approach to the pursuit of pleasure and to the enjoyment of physical fitness makes perfect sense, and a great deal more sense than a radical, puritan attitude to either subject. Everyone present had of course spent long hours training hard in order to be there, but the festive and happy atmosphere of the day showed that there is no incompatibility with that fact and with the idea that good wine and good company are part of the joy of life.

Last Saturday was the 30th Marathon du Médoc. As usual we had a big Pichon Baron team, with many distinguished runners including Jamie Goode, whose blog on the run you can read by clicking here, and Yves Bruno the butcher from Pauillac, perhaps the thinnest and fastest butcher in the world, who was second in his category “V2M” in 2h53m42s and 2nd fastest on the Pichon Baron team. I would also like to give a special mention to Patrice Taris who was the 1st of our runners to finish in 2h45m52s and Cédric Zilligen who was 3rd with a time of 3h38m22s.  The fastest of our lady runners was Céline Nicolle with a very respectable time of 4h10m35s.

Yves Bruno, the butcher from Pauillac
Yves Bruno, the butcher from Pauillac

As usual there was a joyous party atmosphere. I love this event – it hardly seems right to call it a race, as though many people train hard and run great times, the majority of participants are there just to have fun – because it is a celebration of the truth which seems self-evident if you participate in the event, that wine is a natural and healthy part of a balanced life, in the same way as exercise and physical fitness. The ambiance is festive without being excessive, and indeed how could it be otherwise for thousands of people who are running 42 kilometres on the day. There is an excellent rate of participation from the chateaux, many of whom offer tastings of their wine to the runners, along with more conventional marathon refreshments such as water, glucose and bananas. Personally I avoided the bananas.

The day was especially enjoyable for me as I was joined by my son Alexander at kilometre 18 where he had been waiting for me at Château Pibran with many members of the team from Pichon Baron who were serving Pibran to all the runners who cared to stop for a taste.

Here is Alexander running alongside me.
Here is Alexander running alongside me.

We carried on until kilometre 21, when I called it a day. I had a lunch to host at Pichon Baron, and some members of our team get back rather fast. Well that is my excuse for just enjoying the first half of the marathon, and I am sticking to it. We then walked across the vines to the garden of Pichon Baron, and welcomed the members of our team as they progressively came in.

It was a wonderful day, and as always a triumphant affirmation of the idea that a reasonable balanced approach to the pursuit of pleasure and to the enjoyment of physical fitness makes perfect sense, and a great deal more sense than a radical, puritan attitude to either subject. Everyone present had of course spent long hours training hard in order to be there, but the festive and happy atmosphere of the day showed that there is no incompatibility with that fact and with the idea that good wine and good company are part of the joy of life.