Aged Pauillac Striking up With the First Growths

Today’s Story: Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

I previously (and somewhat recently) wrote about Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande and have reviewed the 1966, 1986, 2003, and 2008 vintages on this blog. Though I’ve tasted a number of other vintages including 1979, 1996, 2005, and 2014, the 1989 vintage remained elusive…until today.

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: 1989 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 8% Petit Verdot; 12.5% ABV

The 1989 Pichon Lalande is translucent deep ruby in color with deep garnet hues. There’s absolutely no bricking either, which is fantastic. We served this as a pop and pour and let it develop in the glass, with the nose showcasing aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, pencil shavings, tobacco, forest floor, cedar, graphite, green pepper, and eucalyptus. Meanwhile on the palate, I get notes of redcurrant, cassis, blackberry, black cherry, cigar box, scorched earth, green underbrush, bell pepper, gravel, and clove. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish. Beautifully balanced and not showing any signs of its age yet.

Price: $300 (but this was shared by a good friend). Though not nearly an inexpensive bottle of wine, if you can verify provenance and find a bottle with a great fill level, I would give this a shot. Pichon Lalande has outperformed with each of the 9 vintages I’ve tried and oftentimes these drink like the First Growths. Great value.

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