A.O.C. Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
This elegant, turreted mid-19th century château, which derives its name from Jacques de Pichon, Baron of Longueville who began planting vineyards in the 17th century, was one of the appellation’s greatest underachievers up until the mid-80s – barely living up to its lofty second growth status. Then along came AXA, the giant insurance conglomerate.
AXA employed Jean-Michel Cazes to take charge of the winemaking and vineyards, and the turnaround was nothing short of dramatic, the estate rising to superstar status amongst Bordeaux’s elite in the 1990s. The estate is often referred to as a ’super second’ these days, its wines belying its second growth classification.
“Always a treat, the gap between the quality of the 1990 and the 1986 is more like a chasm. The 1990 embraces the exoticism of the vintage and offers a quite ravishing bouquet, not a million miles away from Lynch Bages ’90, with intense blackberry, cedar and dried herbs that blossom with aeration. There is outstanding delineation and lift. The palate has become more refined in recent years, perhaps less voluptuous than I remember it a few years ago. Yet it is still underpinned fine tannins and a superb structure. Towards the finish: cedar, leather and a touch of game that lingers in the mouth so you can savour every drop.” eRobertParker.com (Mar 2012)
Optimum Drinking Period: 2009-2029
Robert Parker: 97
Wine Spectator: 94
Stephen Tanzer: 93+