I have been so fortunate to enjoy many verticals of the Pauillac property 2nd growth Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande while it was under the leadership of the now departed Madame May-Elaine de Lencquesaing – even out of Imperials! Since 1978 it has been very consistent with the merlot, cab franc and petit verdot all providing real elegance to go along with the main solid cabernet sauvignon variety. The wine always shows so well the vintage characteristics of the year and she really only missed the mark once in 1990 by leaving out the press wine. The 2006 acquisition by Champagne Louis Roederer is still the early days of evolution but there seems to be a decision made for more cab sauv in the Grand Vin with a bigger style being preferred.
Earlier this month treated to another vertical of Pichon Lalande back to 1961 – which showed the superb class of that vintage and much better than I had expected. Otherwise the wines showed pretty much as anticipated though the bottle of 1986 was earthy & slightly corked with those still backward big concentrated old style tannins – and the hard 1975 was starting to dry out. 85 had the usual lighter elegant charming herbal notes but this bottle was a bit too weedy. 78 & 79 were a lovely pair now on their best drinking plateau. The stars on the table were the 1982 & 1983! 1982 soft seductively sweet luscious and very delicious. The 1983 more classic and still needing more time to show at the highest level. It is one of the few stars of this 83 vintage because of May being on site in August and having the workers spray the vines in humid conditions to avoid the rot and mildew that showed up at some other properties.
Interesting to compare this tasting with their neighbour Chateau Pichon Baron which I wrote up on this blog February 18. Certainly the 70s and 80s were better decades for Pichon Lalande but the 1989 and 1990 Baron are both outstanding and they are making excellent wines currently.
Prior to this tasting we tried blind Glenelly’s flagship wine 2009 Lady May (90 CS, and 10 PV) from Stellenbosch in South Africa. Only 2160 cases of this low yield (31 hl/ha) fresh young dark crimson purple balanced quality wine were made. Very cab sauv showing potential in a Bordeaux style with South African terroir! Already given 94 points by Robert Parker and 5 stars in the Platter Wine Guide. Congrats to May on her exciting new venture!
What is your favourite vintage of Pichon Lalande?