Château Pichon Baron 2012
• Domaine: Château Pichon Longueville Baron
• Appellation: Pauillac
• Classification: Second Growth, 2ème Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
With its gothic spires and sapphire-blue reflecting pool, Château Pichon Longueville Baron looks like a fairytale castle come to life. The stunning grounds are easily identifiable, and some of the most photographed in the Médoc. One would never assume that such an idyllic, picturesque structure would be a producer of the highly powerful and muscular wines that are the stylistic signature of this Pauillac powerhouse of a producer.
The history of this famous Second Growth estate dates back to the Grand Siecle - “Great Century” - of France during the reign of Louis XIV. The first vineyard plots of this property were close to Château Latour in the left bank appellation of Pauillac. It was the typical fashion of the day for estates to be passed amongst the noble families through marriage or inheritance, and the story of Château Pichon Longueville is no different. After the marriage of Therese de Rauazan to Baron Jacques Pichon de Longueville in 1697, the estate was created. Eventually the property was passed to Baron Joseph de Pichon Longueville who managed the property at just 19 years old. He divided the large estate in two before his death. He gave Château Pichon Baron to his two sons and what would later be known as the illustrious “Super Second,” Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande, to his three daughters. Interestingly enough, wine critics believe that Château Pichon Baron has a more masculine style and Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande has a more feminine one. The estate was ranked a Second Growth under the famous 1855 Classification.
After a period of neglect in the mid 20th Century, AXA Millésimes, the vineyard investment arm of a global insurance company, purchased the estate and vowed to restore it to its former glory. The legendary Jean Michel Cazes of Château Lynch Bages took over management of Château Pichon Longueville Baron and turned things around. The legendary wine critic, Robert Parker, used to bemoan the bottles of grand vin at the estate roasting in the sun during the 1960s and 1970s. This is not the case under the watchful eye of Jean Michel Cazes. Now the cellar is located underground, underneath the pool that is the focal point of the frontyard. The estate’s 73-hectares of vineyards consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc are diligently harvested grape by grape and parcel by parcel.
Château Pichon de Longueville Baron is home to terroir that is considered a “winegrower’s paradise.” Over the years, the vignerons at the estate have learned to nurture their precious vines, yielding highly concentrated and ripe fruit. Production has been cut in half throughout the decades and the winemaking team at Château Pichon de Longueville Baron has no qualms sacrificing quantity to ensure the quality of their wine. Perhaps it is the close proximity to the terroir of the First Growth powerhouse, Château Latour, that lends these wines the perfect balance of strength and refinement that is so often associated with the gems of Pauillac. Some of the best vintages are massively extracted, flamboyant wines -- with aromas of cassis, tobacco, and cedar. Current style is less emphasis on extraction, allowing the fruit to shine through, while presenting nature's true stories of the terroir. Due to their incredible fortitude, these wines have the ageing potential to last for decades.
Two second wines are produced at Pichon Baron: Les Griffons de Pichon Baron, and Les Tourelles de Longueville. Les Griffons is closer to the grand vin, with a balanced blend of Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot. Les Tourelles is dominated by Merlot, made to be enjoyed young.
"As for the big sibling, the 2012 Pichon Baron (80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot) probably has the most saturated purple color of the Pauillacs. Its structure is apparent, and the wine offers a wealth of blackcurrant fruit interwoven with licorice, graphite, and background toasty oak. Full-bodied, opulent and moderately tannic, this wine is approachable now because of its low acidity, but promises to age beautifully for 20+ years. This is another great classic from Pichon Baron." - Robert Parker Jr., The Wine Advocate (4/29/2015, Issue 218), Ratings: 93, Drink: 2015-2035
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