Chateau Pichon Baron
|Listed Wines||Pichon Baron|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||12-13,000 cases|
|Classification||Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths)|
|Second Wine||Les Tourelles De Longueville|
|Interesting Fact||One of the most state-of-the-art wine producers in the Médoc region with innovations including a handsome réservoir that provides natural temperature regulation for the cellars below it.|
The estate’s aquisition by AXA Millesimes, a viticulture subsidiary of investment giant AXA that holds a fearsome portfolio including the châteaux Suduiraut, Petit Village and Pibran, has been a saving grace to the Pichon Baron name. The estate now has one of the most state-of-the-art wineries in Médoc, with innovations including an optical sorting machine which roots out bad grapes. Englishman Christian Seely’s unrelenting strive towards improvement has paid dividends and the brilliance of recent vintages has helped Pichon Baron gain significant momentum in the Far East, with the Chinese in particular holding the Grand Vin in a position of high regard. A fraternal relation to neighbouring Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, traditionally Pichon Baron has been priced cheaper, though in 2011 both vintages were released at the exact same price reflecting recent market sentiment towards its renaissance.
The improvements made under the stewardship of Michel Cazes and Christian Seely had immediate effect, fully reversing the slump in quality seen through the 70s and 80s, and returning this wine to where it should be - at the top of its game. Oft described as a ‘classic Pauillac’ due to its style and terroir, the 1990 vintage was described by Robert Parker as a “blockbuster”, outranking Pichon-Lalande - a landmark achievement. The 1990 is still in great demand, with prices around £2,500 per case and as it has been forecast another two decades’ longevity there is certainly potential for long-term growth. More recent Pichon Baron vintages have been remarkably consistent in quality and have scored well with an average score of 94-points since 2000, and the 2009 and 2010 winning great critical appraisal. In short, this is a winery going from strength to strength.
Following its 1855 Classification as a second-growth estate, Pichon Baron (full name Château Longueville au Baron de Pichon-Longueville) was passed down the family line until 1933 when a lack of potential heirs forced a sale to the Boutellier family, who maintained its good reputation. The beginning of the 1960s marked the beginning of a decline in the estate’s fortunes however; following the death of Jean Boutellier leadership was criticised as weak and investment lacking. Careless environment control led to the quality of the Grand Vin falling far below expectations of a Second-Growth. This decline was halted following the sale of the estate AXA Millesimes and new leadership in the form of Michel Cazes. The entire chai was rebuilt to an award winning design that incorporated wine cellars being built underneath a new pool to the front of the château residence itself, allowing for a process of natural climate control. By the time Christian Seely was named new president in 2000, Pichon Baron’s fortunes were restored and the château has earned a fantastic 97-point average for its three most recent vintages from Robert Parker.
Chateau Pichon Baron Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Pichon 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.
This is one of the great wines of the vintage, and certainly a candidate for one of the finest wines made at this estate under the management of Christian Seeley and proprietor AXA. Showing incredibly well at two tastings of 2000s, the wine has a dense bluish/purple color and a beautiful nose of incense, melted asphalt, and creme de cassis as well as hints of new saddle leather and licorice. It is superbly concentrated and very pure, with excellent texture and opulence. The acidity seems low, the tannin high but well-integrated. This is a compelling 2000 that is just closing in on its window of maturity and should stay there for at least 20 or more years. Bravo!
A remarkable vintage for Pichon Longueville Baron, 1990 is one of this estate's two or three finest wines made in the last 40 years. Still inky/blue/purple-tinged to the rim, it reveals an extraordinary bouquet of charcoal, incense, creme de cassis, blue and black fruits, and a hint of licorice as well as an impressively long finish. While drinkable, its evolution is extremely slow, and I would not be surprised to see it last another two decades or more. Release price: ($390.00/case)
Administrator Christian Seeley thinks the 2010 is the greatest Pichon Longueville Baron he has ever made, equaling some of the estate's colossal wines from vintages such as 1989 and 1990. It was certainly showing well when I stopped by the chateau in January. Opaque purple, with loads of charcoal, licorice, incense and some exotic Asian spices along with abundant cassis liqueur, blackberry and hints of roasted coffee and spring flowers, it is full-bodied and opulent, with relatively high tannins, but they have sweetened up considerably and seem less aggressive than they did from barrel. The oak is clearly pushed to the background by the wine's wealth of fruit, glycerin and full-bodied texture. This sensational Pichon Longueville Baron needs 5-6 years of cellaring, and should keep 30+ years.
A sleeper of the vintage, the 2008 Pichon Longueville Baron is one of the densest, most concentrated wines of Pauillac in 2008. An inky/purple color is followed by aromas and flavors of creme de cassis, blackberries, charcoal, coffee and licorice. Exceptionally full-bodied with velvety tannins and undeniable appeal, this gorgeous, well-proportioned, larger than life 2008 should age effortlessly for two decades or more. With the realistic pricing that remains for many 2008s, this is a no-brainer.
Both the 1989 and 1990 vintages exhibit opaque, dense purple colors that suggest massive wines of considerable extraction and richness. The dense, full-bodied 1989 is brilliantly made with huge, smoky, chocolatey, cassis aromas intermingled with scents of toasty oak. Well-layered, with a sweet inner-core of fruit, this awesomely endowed, backward, tannic, prodigious 1989 needs another 5-6 years of cellaring; it should last for three decades or more. It is unquestionably a great Pichon-Longueville-Baron.
This is a brilliantly run property year in and year out, and especially since the mid- to late 1980s has produced one of the top four or five wines made in Pauillac in virtually every vintage. With 13.4% alcohol, the 2003 is one of the most powerful efforts this chateau has ever made. Its dense purple color is accompanied by sweet, jammy creme de cassis notes intermixed with roasted herbs, smoked meats, and chocolate. Although ripe, dense, full-bodied, and moderately tannic, it is silky (because of its low acidity and high glycerin) as well as accessible. It should firm up in the bottle, and be at its peak between 2008-2025.
As usual, this superb Pauillac possesses an inky/blue/black color in addition to a big, sweet nose of graphite, charcoal, burning embers, black currant liqueur, and toasty vanillin from new oak casks. Full-bodied with high but sweet, well-integrated tannins, the 2005 Pichon Baron is more backward than the blockbuster 2003 or prodigious 2000. Nevertheless, it is a superb effort whose power, length, and tannic structure suggest it should be at its peak between 2015-2035.
An undeniable star of the vintage, Pichon-Baron's 2004 boasts an inky/ruby/purple color to the rim as well as a big, sweet nose of melted licorice, chocolate, black currant jam, truffles, and charcoal embers. Soft tannin, full body, and abundant opulence and flesh are atypical for the vintage character, but this wine is loaded. Pure, ripe, and evolved, it should be at its finest between 2009-2022.
A very successful effort for this vintage in the Medoc, this deep ruby/purple-colored Pauillac exhibits class/nobility/breed along with black currant liqueur, licorice, and incense notes. Sweet, expansive, fleshy, and medium to full-bodied, with good structure, ripe tannin, and a long, 30-35 second finish, it can be drunk now, but will be even better in 2-3 years; it will last for 12-15 years. I had this wine three separate times out of bottle, and it is performing significantly better than it did from cask.