Day Seven, First Stop: Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron

Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron in Pauillac was our first stop this morning and very highly anticipated. We had driven by the estate a few times at this point, and it is by far one of the most spectacular Chateaux in the region.  We even stopped on the way back to our hotel one night after dinner to take pictures.

Chateau Pichon Baron by night.
Chateau Pichon Baron by night.
The captivating chateau.
The captivating Chateau Pichon Baron.

Pichon Baron was one of a small group of Bordeaux wines that is responsible for making me fall in love with the wines of Bordeaux.  Pichon Baron has been one of my long time favorites from Bordeaux, starting with their 1988 vintage.  Both the 1989 and 1990 wines from Pichon Baron are drinking very well at this point, with the 1989 even still being a little young in my opinion.  The wines from Pichon Baron are big, powerful Cabernet-dominant wines with big meaty fruit flavors.  The wines of Pichon Baron are not known for being feminine or delicate, but with age you will get a lot of delicate secondary flavors to go with the big masculine fruit.  I have always loved the wines of Pichon Baron and it is not by chance that we have more Pichon Baron in the cellar than any other producer in Bordeaux.

The barrel room sits beneath this structure - and the water!
The barrel room sits beneath this structure – and the water!

Our guide explained to us that Pichon Baron was once part of a larger estate, owned by Pierre de Rauzan, along with Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, the estate directly across the street. In 1850 the estate was divided into the two current Pichon estates. In 1987 the estate was purchased by French insurance company AXA. The property is currently managed by Englishman Christian Seely.

The vat room.
The vat room.

When we were in the barrel room, we saw something we had only heard about but hadn’t seen yet.  There were workers that were fining the wine in the barrels, which consists of adding egg whites in order to facilitate the removal of particles of matter from the wine.  We also saw they were cleaning empty barrels to prepare them for wine by burning sulfur in them – not a smell you want to spend a whole lot of time around, we assure you.

Bob and Christina Watt in the barrel room.
Bob and Christina Watt in the barrel room.
The laborious process of fining the wines.
The laborious process of fining the wines.
Can you see the sulfur haze?
Can you see the sulfur haze?
The wax and seal.
The wax and seal. Would’ve made a nice souvenir…

Here are the wines we tried in their tasting room:

2008 Pibran – Fruity nose, red and black fruit in the mouth, decent acid, medium-light in body and medium fruit finish.  A nice inexpensive Bordeaux red wine.

2008 Les Tourelles de Longueville – Nice nose of sweet dark fruit, well rounded in the mouth with dark red bing cherries, good acidity, nice medium-fine tannin and a medium-long dark fruit finish.  This is a very nice second wine that is drinking well now but will age very well over the next decade.

2008 Pichon Baron – Beautiful spicy sweet dark fruit nose.  In the mouth, very dark sweet blackberries with a hint of dark bing cherries combined with baking spices, very good acidity keeping everything lively.  Full bodied and lots of sweet fine tannins leading to a very nice black current and spicy blackberry long finish.  This is an absolutely beautiful wine that is starting to show some nice complexity, but is still a baby.  The 2008 Pichon Baron should start drinking well in another five years, but will age for two decades without even trying.  The prices for both the 2009 and 2010 Pichon Baron are significantly higher than the 2008 and for good reason, but the 2008 is a relative bargain by comparison of quality/price.  The 2008 Pichon Baron is a wine to look out for and I am very glad that I have it resting in my cellar.

Another view.
Another view.
And another.
And another.

It was a beautiful day, and we snapped a few more photos outside, before heading just across the street for a tour and lunch at Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande…

Bordeaux Bound

Next week, my wife and I head to Bordeaux, sans children – for a highly-anticipated trip of wine tasting (a big thank you to my in-laws for staying with our kids!).

Although those in the industry would call our tour a “death march,” we’re quite excited by the itinerary we have lined up.  The extraordinary team at Bordeaux Saveurs has helped us put together this remarkable tour, complete with a few cooking classes on estates, as well as numerous great meals.

Over roughly two weeks, we will visit:

  • Chateau Phelan Segur
  • Chateau Cos d’Estournel
  • Chateau Pontet Canet
  • Chateau Leoville Barton
  • Chateau Lascombes
  • Chateau Mouton Rothschild
  • Chateau Lynch Bages
  • Chateau Haut Brion
  • Chateau Pape Clement
  • Domaine de Chevalier
  • Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron
  • Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
  • Chateau Palmer
  • Chateau Suduiraut
  • Chateau Y’Qeum
  • Chateau Guiraud
  • Chateau Haut Bailly
  • Chateau Smith Haut Lafite
  • Chateau Troplong Mondot
  • Chateau Angelus
  • Chateau Figeac
  • Chateau Soutard

We will stay at the Cordeillan Bages hotel for the first part of the trip, then in a private apartment in Bordeaux proper over the weekend, and finish out our stay at les Sources de Caudalie, which friends tell us is heavenly.  A big thanks to dear friend and awesome travel agent Kelly Bonewitz at Woodside Travel for her assistance pulling things together – we can’t wait to give a full report on our adventure!

Speaking of which, we have never blogged remotely before, so we’ll have to see how it goes.  Given how much we’ve packed in, the updates will probably happen once we return, jet-lagged and happy…and dreaming of our return!