The Underrated 2008 Bordeaux Vintage Showing Just Fine at Pichon Lalande

Today’s Story: Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

I previously wrote about Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande when I tasted the 1966, 1986, and 2003 vintages. Though I’ve had this wine many times and from vintages not written about (including 2014 which is showing very nicely now), I wanted to revisit them today for the 2008 vintage. Regularly I hear great things about the often “underrated” 2008 vintage for Bordeaux, so I figured it’s time to check for myself.

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a Second Growth (Deuxième Cru) estate based on the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. Pichon Lalande is considered by many to be a classic example of Pauillac, known for its deep, concentrated layers of ripe fruit accompanied by notes of cassis, tobacco, and earth.

With nothing short of a somewhat tumultuous history, Pichon Lalande’s ownership changed hands over the years and earned its name when the founder’s daughter Therese received it as a dowry for her marriage to Jacques de Pichon Longueville. During the 18th century, the estate was dominated by women (Therese de Rauzan, Germaine de Lajus, and Marie Branda de Terrefort) throughout the winemaking process until Baron Joseph de Pichon Longueville took over for his mother. In 1850, with his death, the estate split between his two sons and three daughters and ultimately resulted in the division of Comtesse de Lalande and Pichon Baron.

With no familial heirs, Edouard Miailhe and Louis Miailhe purchased Pichon Lalande following WWI. Edouard’s daughter, May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, took over management in 1978 and became a prominent ambassador for Bordeaux wines while dramatically increasing quality of her estate. One of her major endeavors, and possibly most famous, was growing the size of Pichon Lalande from 40 hectares of vines to 89. In 2007, however, May-Eliane sold a majority stake of the estate to the Rouzaud family, owners of Roederer Champagne, and management changes as well as renovations took place.

Today’s Wine: 2008 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc; 13% ABV

The 2008 Pichon Lalande is opaque medium to deep ruby in color. After 4 hours or so in the decanter, the wine seems perfectly open and the nose showcases classic aromas of blackcurrant, redcurrant, cassis, pencil shavings, cigar box, scorched earth, gravel, cracked pepper, green herbs, and mild oak. Moving onto the palate, I get more classic notes of cassis, black cherry, plum, licorice, violet, tobacco, graphite, loamy earth, underbrush, and chocolate. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) dusty tannins, and a long finish. Gorgeous wine from an underrated vintage, and I think this has a very long life still ahead of it.

Price: $140 ($180 average online). Relative to vintages around this such as 2005, 2009, or 2010, this is a great value play particularly at the price I found it for. While it doesn’t have the power some of these stronger vintages possess, it is a gorgeous wine nonetheless that is really starting to come into its own.

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