Le Pin 2015
• Domaine: Château Le Pin
• Appellation: Pomerol
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Le Pin is proof that sometimes the most unassuming properties have an unbelievable amount of untapped potential.
Who could have possibly imagined that an unclassified Pomerol estate with a dilapidated farmhouse, one hectare of vines and a single pine tree would become one of the most expensive producers not just in Bordeaux, but in the entire world? For most estates to achieve that level of greatness it takes centuries, yet Jacques Thienpont managed to elevate Le Pin’s status in just 30 years. Anybody who is familiar with this producer understands that Le Pin is a cult wine with a microscopic case production and to experience it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Yet with all the praise aside – the glowing reviews from Robert Parker, the fanfare, and the accolades the core values of this estate are simply about making great wine.
The history of the Le Pin really dates back to 1924, where it was used for grape growing. It was in 1979 when things changed and Jacques Thienpont purchased it for one million francs. The cellars were in horrible states of disarray and the farmhouse was dilapidated. Jacques Thienpont didn’t have a terrible amount of money to invest in Le Pin. He purchased one stainless steel tank and really focused on cultivating the perfect grapes and using minimal intervention in the viticultural process. The 1 hectare vineyard is planted with almost 100 percent Merlot, though there are a few scattered Cabernet Franc vines that are co-planted among the vines. These Cabernet Franc vines never make it into the grand vin at Le Pin, they are sold off to other producers. At Le Pin, the focus is very much on quality fruit and optimum expression of terroir.
The 1982 vintage was a gamechanger for the estate. Robert Parker tasted this wine and found it completely remarkable. He wrote a descriptive, detailed and glowing review about this Cinderella of a property and the estate’s fortunes transformed overnight. A wine that was once priced at 100 Euros would later fetch the unparalleled price point of several thousands. The reason for this dramatic appreciation? Case production was so small – at a miniscule 400 to 600 cases. Most people simply couldn’t find the wine and demand far exceeded supply. In fact, you’ll be lucky if you’re able to find a bottle on the market today.
Many of us will not be able to taste Le Pin in our lifetime – unless we are extraordinarily lucky. So that begs the burning question… What does it taste like? Allow us to paint a picture for you. The wine is made of Merlot and has a lightness that is almost like a Pinot Noir. The nose has a very intense floral quality that rages about in the glass. Though the wine is powerful, it is ethereal and light with a very long finish. Many who have tasted Le Pin compare the wine to something they would find in Burgundy. Perhaps this is why Le Pin called the Romanée-Conti of Bordeaux.
"Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2015 Le Pin hits the dance floor with a completely gregarious nose of plum preserves, blackberry tart and wild blueberries, boldly accented by suggestions of Chinese five spice, cigar boxes, menthol and violets plus an earthy waft of underbrush. Full-bodied, concentrated, muscular and earthy with a firm backbone of exquisitely ripe, grainy tannins and plenty of freshness, it has an incredibly long finish featuring exotic spice and mineral layers." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, (2/21/2018, Interim Issue), Rating: 99, Drink: 2022-2047
"The 2015 Le Pin, which comes in at a modest 13.8% alcohol, has a very perfumed and precise bouquet with raspberry coulis, crème de cassis, rose petals and cold stone aromas. This is adorned with very pure fruit, perhaps more confit-like than other vintages that I have tasted out of barrel. The palate is medium-bodied with a grainy texture on the entry and an extremely fine line of acidity. This is a decidedly more structured Le Pin from Jacques Thienpont, maybe a more masculine wine with fine backbone and lovely salinity towards the finish. There is enormous persistence that lingers long in the mouth, developing a marine-like nuance as it aerates. I like the seriousness here that neatly offsets the exuberance and precocity of the vintage, a wonderful Le Pin that will age with style and verve. Jacques suggested that it might be like the 1986 Le Pin. If so, judging by a half-bottle he then opened, a lucky few are going to be in for a treat." - Neal Martin, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, (6/29/2016, Issue 225), Rating: 96-98, Drink: 2021-2040
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