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2017 2ème Cru Classé Pauillac

Grapes Cab Sauv, Merlot
Colour Red
Origin France, Bordeaux
Sub-district Haut Médoc
Village Pauillac
Classification 2ème Cru Classé

79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21 % Merlot. 80% new oak. Tasted three times over the week. Singing on all three occasions. There is a sense of grandeur - an almost aristocratic feel to the 2017 Pichon Baron. Complex nose of oak, mineral stone and meat. Sleek and energetic on the palate. Enticing dark fruit in the middle. Mineral streak throughout. Majestic. Rating: 94 L&S (Apr 2018)

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The 2017 Pichon Baron was picked from 18 to 21 September for the Merlot and 27 September to 3 October for the Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a very sophisticated, pure and quite intense bouquet with black fruit, cedar and potent graphite aromas. This feels very focused and the 80% new oak is seamlessly integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with a smooth entry, very sleek and silky with a gentle grip. There is a lovely sweetness here, perhaps less austere than I was anticipating with a very long, quite spicy finish. Tasted four times with consistent notes. Drinking range: 2020 - 2045 Rating: 93-95 Neal Martin, 2018)

Stricter selection this year, says Christian Seely, 270,000 bottles instead of 350,000. 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot. Very dark with black core and purple rim. Seductively dark fruit and graphite. Seductive without being flirtatious, rather serious in fact. Deep with black fruit, not sweet, dry and super-smooth with a dry elegance and restraint. Extremely fine and surprisingly juicy on the finish. Long and elegant. Firm, compact and delicious. Drinking range: 2026 - 2047 Rating: 17.5 Julia Harding MW, 2018)

The grand vin represents 50% of production this year. A blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot, the 2017 Pichon-Longueville Baron is deep garnet-purple in color and simply sings of vibrant blackcurrants, black cherries and rose hip notes with nuances of potpourri, incense, licorice and pencil shavings plus touches of cigar box and fertile loam. Medium-bodied, super intense and possessing stunning poise, it has very firm, fine-grained tannins and a beautifully silken texture, with bags of freshness and a very long, perfumed finish. Rating: 95-97 Lisa Perrotti-Brown, 2018)

A wonderfully rich and beautiful wine, intense and concentrated but with real generosity of spirit and huge persistency. It's in keeping with the more focussed and intensely intellectual style of wine that Pichon Baron has produced over the past few vintages, meaning that the austerity of the year really suits it. The 30hl/ha yield was not because of frost, but because of their low-yielding 60-year-old Cabernet vines. 80% new oak. 50% of production went into the grand vin. Harvested 18 September to 3 October, followed by an early and rapid fermentation and blending, meaning that wines were transferred into barrel by the end of November. A wine to age, and then some. Drinking range: 2026 - 2042 Rating: 95 Jane Anson, Decanter(Apr 2018)

The saturated purple-colored 2017 Pichon-Longueville Baron will compete with the best of the best in 2017. Possessing full-bodied notes of ripe blackberry and cassis fruit intermixed with background graphite and oak, it hits the palate with beautiful purity of fruit, building tannin, and a great, great finish. Its oak is brilliantly integrated, it has a stacked mid-palate, and again, just incredible purity of fruit. It has the fruit/texture to drink nicely in its youth yet deserves 4-6 years and will keep for two decades or more. The 2017 is 79% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot aging in 80% new French oak, which accounts for only 50% of the total production. Rating: 94-97 Jeb Dunnuck, 2018)

This is very centered and focused on the mid-palate with beautiful currant, coffee and walnut character. Full-bodied and superfine. Strong tannins and a long and bright finish. Lots of blackcurrants and blackberries in the end. Rating: 95-96 James Suckling, 2018)

This is nice, with dark plum and blackberry compote flavors that have a fleshy edge, while light bay, tobacco and savory notes add range, combining with the vintage’s fresh acidity and bright mineral edge. Rating: 92-95 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator(Apr 2018)

The heart of the Pichon-Baron blend these days comes from the grand plateau, with occasional contributions from some parcels with a similarly easterly position within the appellation, and this is certainly the case in 2017, which includes very little fruit from beyond the plateau. Frost was not a problem here. The blend is 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, which was picked between September 27th and October 3rd, and the fruit of old Merlot vines, accounting for the other 21%, and picked between September 18th and 21st. The wine accounts for 50% of the crop from the Pichon-Baron vineyards. This is (unsurprisingly) very different in terms of impact and quality to the second wines, showing an introverted reticence, a dark and savoury concentration, with spiced cherries, cigar box and tobacco, also smoke as well as a really enticing gravelly minerality, The palate lifts it all up several notches, with dense and yet refined fruit, full and bright, with savoury structure, very refined tannins providing a silky backbone, with lovely integration of structure and substance. It is bright, pure, polished, poised and harmonious, such a complete composition, and it is very long too. This is superb, and clearly one of the most striking wines of the left bank. The élevage will be in 80% new oak and 20% second-fill barrels, for about 18 months. Rating: 95-97 Chris Kissack, 2018)

Château Pichon Longueville Baron

Pauillac Deuxième cru 1855 Facing Château Latour across the road, at the southern end of Pauillac, are the twin Château Pichons. Originally one estate, the two were divided in 1850 on the death of Joseph Pichon. His daughters inherited the portion that became Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, whilst his son Raoul inherited the title of Baron de Longueville and the vineyards of Château Pichon Longueville Baron de Longueville (usually more conveniently referred to as Pichon Baron). The two estates continued to be run as a single vineyard for another ten years, allowing them jointly to be awarded 2nd Growth status in 1855. Raoul built the present château in 1851 on his half of Pichon. At Raoul's death in 1860, the split was formalised and the two Pichons went their relatively seperate ways. By the time AXA Millésimes bought Pichon Baron in 1987, it had fallen a long way behind its sibling neighbour and was in dire need of investment. Investment has been forthcoming from AXA, and expertise from the involvement of Jean-Michel Cazes (of Château Lynch Bages) and, once again, the two Pichons can be seen on a par with one another. There are 73ha of vineyard at Pichon Baron, planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon 25% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. Since the installation of the new chais, grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel before spending 18 months in oak (70% new, 30% one year old). The AXA take-over also saw the introduction of a second wine - Les Tourelles de Longueville - in order to tighten up the selection for the grand vin. Inevitably, there is the temptation to compare the two Pichons. With a slightly higher proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the cuvée, the Baron is a little more structured and masculine, dare one say offering a little of the feel of its illustrious neighbour Château Latour.

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