My second scheduled visit had me heading north to the area near Pauillac. Classified in 1855 as a Second Growth château, Pichon-Longueville is a grand looking, castle-like building similar to those found in the fairy-tales I read to my grand-daughter! It boasts multiple turrets, lovely grounds, and a reflecting waterpond. I had to stop both before and after my visit to take it all in.
Once again I meandered with Nicholas, my wonderful guide, through each area of the winery. Merci, Nicholas! Stainless steel fermentation vats and numerous French oak barriques take the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot grape juice and transform them in smooth, delicious, exquisite wine. It was fairly quiet inside as the harvest was due to begin the day after I visited. Outside in the vineyards, the soil is mostly Garonne gravel, a trademark of the Gironde Estuary’s left bank. The Château’s Grand Vin has a greater percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon- a varietal that prefers this gravelly soil. Only 40 out of a total of 73 hectares are used to make the Grand Vin, using the best grapes (of each varietal) from each hectare.
I was treated to a vertical tasting- 2009, 2010, 2011. What a fantastic experience…to taste the château’s best wine in various stages of its development! I was privileged to have met the Technical Director, M Jean-René Matignon, in Chicago this past March, when I tried the 2012 vintage. I felt honored to have had the opportunity to try those earlier vintages. My favorites were 2009 and 2010 vintages!! Vertical tastings truly showcase the skill of the winemaker and his team. They must create the “signature” wine that continually represents the château regardless of any hiccups that may have occurred during the months between bud break and harvest. Rain, temperature, and wind at the wrong times can create problems. I know this team is spot on!
As I left the château, I stopped again to admire the clusters of grapes and the gorgeous roses found at the ends of each row of vines. I look forward to future tastings of Château Pichon-Longueville Baron! Can’t find the Grand Vin? Try the second wine, Les Tourelles de Longueville. Santé