Neil Martin in The Wine Advocate (93-95)/100 April 2017. “It has a very pure and detailed bouquet with blackberry, briary, cold stone and graphite aromas. This seems to meliorate in glass. The palate is very well balanced with fine tannin, a Griffons that is nimble and agile, the finish very precise with an almost clinical graphite-tinged finish. This is superb”
The Wine Call Insider 93/100. “Hard to believe this wine is not a classified growth in this vintage”.
STORY BEHIND THIS WINE
The famous and historic Bordeaux property Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron, with its stunning turreted chateaux was classified as a second growth in 1855 but began life with neighbour Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande as one property and was divided in two by the Baron Pichon on his death bed in 1850 to bequeath to his five children. The two boys got the former and the three girls the later.
The property overlooks first growth Ch. Latour, across the street, but despite this excellent terroir the wines of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s were lacklustre for such a prominent estate, However, after the insurance group AXA bought it in 1987, in a short time its reputation was restored beginning with the excellent 1989 and 1990 wines, but the wine quality really became consistently world class from 2000 onwards. Today it is regarded as one of the so called ‘Super Seconds’, chateaux classified as second growths but whose wines run the first growths very close on quality and even on occasion surpass, but at a lower price.
One of the ways that the quality of the grand vin has been improved is by increasingly rigorous selection of grapes at harvest and wines at the point to blending. In 2000, about 30,000 cases of the grand vin were made, but that that has dropped to about 18,000 today, with a commensurate increase in volumes in the second label Les Tourelles de Longueville and the third label Les Griffons de Pichon Baron. The later was only introduced in 2012 as part of this realignment and provides a real insight into style and quality of the estate at a much lower price.
The estate has 73ha of vines planted with 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The redesigned cellar has an array of vats matched in size to the requirements of the individual parcels of vines. Ageing for the grand vin is in 80% new oak barrels for 18 months and for about 60% new oak for the 2nd and 3rd labels.
Les Griffons is made from a gravel rich parcel of vines close to the Gironde estuary. In 2016 it represented about 30% of the estate’s production. It’s a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon and 48% merlot aged in oak barrique for 18 months, 60% new. 2016 was a good to excellent vintage in Pauillac and wine shows plenty of attractive ripe black fruit with none of greenness found in a lesser vintage but there’s more with Pauillac’s signature cedar like spice and a firm graphite like mineral quality to the palate to suggest it will comfortably age for 20 years.