These note accompany our feature article on a visit to Château Pichon-Baron.
(2021) Lovely nose, suffused with cassis and ripe black cherry, there's a mocha depth to this too, a little hint of cedary pencil-shaving, a hint of earthiness, but really quite bold fruit. In the mouth classy and classic Bordeaux character, the black fruit very nicely ripe and creamy, but there is structure, a certain firmness to the tannins and suppleness to the acidity, grippy but the sweet fruit dominating the mid-palate. Very complete, very harmonious.
(2014) Only 120,000 bottles were made - the lowest ever production. Instantly refined, sheer, with an elegant red fruit hint to the core of solid cassis. Hints of briar and cherry, but very smooth and full. The palate has lovely texture and mouth-filling tannin. The juiciness at the core of this is lovely, but it has weight and gravitas, chewy density to the tannins and gravelly, grippy elements to the finish. Delicious and relatively forward.
(2014) Really meaty and dense on the nose, lots of meat stock and gravel, the grip and earthiness much more prominent than on the 2013 sample. On the palate sweetly seductive fruit floods through, adding a real silkiness to the mid-palate, bolstered by chocolate and mocha, before a delicious juiciness powers through. Lovely drying tannin structure adding grip without any roughness, and the acidity is perfect.
(2014) Dense and deep in colour, with a great sense of solidity. Much more deep-set, closed to an extent, with creamy oak over very dark cassis and black berry fruit. Lovely glimpse of earthiness and spice. Dense and creamy textured on the palate, but again it is the inherent sweetness of the Cabernet that comes through so beautifully. Grippy again at this stage, but the tannins are creamy and refined. This is more closed, a little drier, but the fruit in the middle is there and this will no doubt blossom.
(2014) Again, a dense and saturated colour. Very polished on the nose - deep set, tightly wound again, but with an extra few ounces of polish and spicy, tobacco-tinged depth. There's a nice hint of the vegetal too, in a tight but complex nose. Fabulously juicy palate, flushed with cassis and plum, the cherry skin bite of the fruit so keen and delicious, absolutely singing against chocolate and charry notes, coffee and the firm tannin framework, but the lovely fruit and the clarity of the acidity is dazzling. A terrific wine, with serious ageing potential and a glorious complexity already.
(2014) Upgraded by Parker from 95 to 98 apparently, and the price has correspondingly shot up since release. Soaring perfume from this, the lift, the flowers, the spices and exoticism is remarkably different from 2010, but for me equally attractive. Christian says the average temperature during the growing season was 2c higher in 2009. Again that wonderful core of black fruit, glossy and creamy, but elegantly ripe. On the palate this glorious flesh and substance, with cedary edges and tobacco to sweet, thick plum and blackcurrant fruit. Creaminess to the tannins here, real ripeness, with delicious fruit and acidity and lovely quality throughout.
(2014) Chocolaty and deep, this has a hint of roses and floral lift, but the creaminess of the fruit and oak adds some black fruit and chocolate into the mix. A hint of more graphite character. The palate doesn't quite have the sheer luxurious weight of the '09 or the pin-point balance of the '10, but what a beautiful wine again, with fine, grippy tannins emphasising the relative edginess of this medium-bodied example, and the fine acidity, the framework gives this real sense of place and ability to age gracefully I am sure.
(2014) Again, the vintage - generally cool, and a late burst of sun not *quite* compensating - is obvious here, with more vegetal aromas, more hints of sappy green amongst gravel and black fruit. Clearly lighter on the palate, it is nevertheless balanced and fine, with some substance added from chocolate and creamy oak and tannins - which do seem ripe - finishing a little shorter, but with balance, juiciness and class.
(2014) Tiny glimpse of softening colour on the rim, but still dark and dense. Fairly closed aromatically, with lots of cedar, lots of tobacco and deep-set plummy fruit. Seems serious and sinewy, tight like an '86 perhaps. The palate has a fabulous core of juicy sweetness; the liquorice-edged, cassis and blueberry fruit is surprisingly sweet and solid. The drying tannins meld into chocolate and espresso, also spice, with really smooth, silky tannins, but they really grip. The acidity gives it a bit of cherry, and lift, with plenty of sweet fruit persisting through the structure. I suspect this could come good.
(2014) Very dense colour, and youthful. Classic aromas - the blackcurrant and ripe plum flesh marrying to cedar and spice, a deal of tobacco ad smokiness, and gravelly earth in there too. What a lovely mouthful of wine this is, the seductive, luxurious weight and sweetness of the fruit beginning to flood through onto the palate, with an effortless, creamy and chocolaty weight of ripe tannin behind it. Lovely balancing acids, a wine with real charm, but also all the structure and depth in the world. Long, complex, but more than that, really quite beautiful.
(2014) A big, juicy and blackcurranty nose, with lovely coffeeish depth, this seems very open and approachable, classic components without, perhaps, as much sense of expectation/anticipation as the younger wines. A lightly open bloodiness too. On the palate has good fruit and a firm edge of coffee and liquorice, very nice fruit and a juicy freshness. A very nice wine, without the concentration and structure of the 2005 for example.
(2014) The colour shows a little softening on the rim, but otherwise dense and thick. Not so much baked on the nose, just a ripe, rounded nose, not raisined, but plump and rich and coated with a layer of cedar and tobacco. There is fabulous ripeness to this, a fleshiness and silkiness, and what it lacks in nuanced complexity, it makes up for in smoothness. There is a nicely retained edge to this, a cherry skin juiciness and clarity.
(2014) Some parcels were there were hardly any grapes at all after so much rain at flowering. Beautifully refined, fragrant, classic nose, such perfumed lift, touches of sappiness and olive, but lovely lift and fresh and juicy fruit. Cedary. Just delicious, with such clarity and energy about it on the palate - lithe but not lean, cool and clear, the black fruit flavours and juiciness is delightful. Drinking really well, clearly not the gravitas of a 2010 or 2005, but lovely.
(2014) Pungent, punchy stuff, with a verdant edge to the black fruit, lots of black olive and sappiness, and a solid cedary oak and Sandalwood note. The palate has masses of fruit - so much sweetness here, so much fresh bursting blackcurrant. A little lighter in style for sure, the tannins perhaps a touch underpowered, but the clarity of the acidity, bolstering oak and creaminess is lovely, finishing on sweet fruit, spices and coffee. A touch short perhaps, but a deliciously juicy and fruit-packed core to this.
(2014) A very good vintage in Bordeaux, but Christian took over on 2nd January 2001, so blended this, but had no control over vineyards. Probably higher yields than Christian would have wanted. Juicy and fresh, and has a kirsch-like, lifted fragrance, a sense of lightness - maybe not the gravitas, but a beautiful wine. Cedar and tobacco notes. Delicious liquorice-licked, graphite touched stuff. The flavours are just delightful, so juicy, so fresh, a cherry and blackcurrant skin tang of freshness, but long with a chocolate touched weight to the tannins and acidity. Drinks absolutely beautifully and has substance and subtlety.
(1999) Very attractive summer-berry nose. Sweetly perfumed fruit. Bright, solid cherry fruit. Not great length, but good concentration suggests promise.
(2004) Seems a slightly lighter colour, but more vibrant. Big coffeeish nose, flooded with dark, toasty oak and deep-set fruit that is quite fat and generous. Very rounded and harmonious on the palate. Again there is good attack, with a sweet, ripe blackcurrant and raspberry edge to the fruit and balanced acidity. There is a really tart, bitter dark cherry acidity and quite a liquoricy grip. Good length and very nice drinking.
(2000) Tarry, dense, blackish colour. Obviously huge extraction. Lots of charry new oak on the nose with pencil-shaving aromas adding savouriness to ripe, crunchy blackberry, damson and plum. Silky mouthfeel with a palate of sweet, dark, bittersweet fruit and liquorice. Firm tannins are gripping powerfully though acidity is moderate.
(2007) Haunting, classic pencil shaving, black fruit and slightly bloody character. Lovely finesse and classic dimensions here. On the palate quite lean and sinewy, with a strict core of tannin and acidity hung on a fairly austere framework, but all very nicely framed and a wine drinking very nicely indeed. Very proper stuff.
Return to our feature article on a visit to Château Pichon-Baron.