Château Prieure-Lichine 2013
• Domaine: Château Prieure-Lichine
• Appellation: Margaux
• Classification: Fourth Growth, 4ème Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Château Prieure-Lichine is an estate that exemplifies classic Margaux terroir. The wines have a certain finesse, generosity, suppleness, and charm. What makes Château Prieure-Lichine a unique property is not just the quality of the grand vin, however. The simple fact of the matter is Château Prieure-Lichine was a groundbreaking estate that turned Bordeaux from a relatively sleepy, winemaking collective into a tourist destination. This was largely because of the legendary figure in the world of Bordeaux wine, the Russian American wine critic nicknamed the “Pope of Wine,” Alexis Lichine. It would be impossible to talk about the history of this property without mentioning his name. In many ways, Château Prieure-Lichine is an important estate to know – not just for the sake and quality of its wines -- but because it is a property that radically changed the way things were done in Bordeaux.
The history behind Château Prieure-Lichine is a long one, as the property was initially a priory for Benedictine Monks. The Monks lived at the estate and produced wines for dinners and a variety of religious services. The wines were of such great quality that they were lauded by Pope Clement. It was ranked in 1745 by the Bordeaux Intendance Classification as a Third Growth prior to being seized and split up during the French Revolution. Almost a hundred years later at the 1855 Classification, the estate was declared by the négociants a Fourth Growth property. Château Prieure-Lichine fell into disrepair until the 1950s, dwindling in size to a diminutive 11 hectares. The rumor is it was purchased by Alexis Lichine for a minuscule sum of 8,000 British pounds. The property was renamed Château Prieure-Lichine and that’s where the history of the estate gets very interesting.
Alexis Lichine, ever the visionary, wanted to make Château Prieure-Lichine a destination, yet when he purchased the property Bordeaux wasn’t exactly a place where tourists went. He purchased a large sign that said the estate was open for tastings and visitors could purchase wine there. The sign was placed along the D2 Route de Médoc, much to the chagrin of the neighboring Bordeaux estates who considered Alexis’ approach “too commercial,” for their tastes. With all that in mind, the naysayers began to get on board when they started seeing more and more wine lovers purchasing the grand vin of Château Prieure-Lichine. By the 1970s, Château Prieure-Lichine was able to expand to 58 hectares of vines. There are actually plantings of vines from Prieure-Lichine in every commune of Margaux.
Eventually, Alexis Lichine passed away in 1989 and was buried on property because of his undying love for the estate. Château Prieure-Lichine was managed by his son, Sacha who eventually sold it for close to 20,000,000 British Pounds to the powerful négociant, the Ballande Group. As the years pass, the team has implemented a series of strategies to improve the wines at Château Prieure-Lichine, and it’s clear they are succeeding. For wine connoisseurs who love properties with interesting and complex histories, Château Prieure-Lichine is definitely an estate worth knowing.
"The 2013 Prieuré-Lichine has a slightly higher-toned bouquet compared to its peers, a little green but with some light raspberry and strawberry fruit coming through. The palate is medium-bodied, very straightforward with moderate weight, though it feels rather flat towards the finish. This seems just a tad "pushed" in this vintage and it kind of "stumbles" over the finish line." - Neal Martin, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (10/28/2016, Issue 227), Ratings: 85
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