September 11, 2014

A Masterclass with Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron’s Brand Ambassador, Corinne Michot, was held at Chinoz on the Park. Brought to us by Geovinum Sdn Bhd together with the Sommelier Association of Malaysia, SOMLAY.

The Chateau is a leading Pauillac 2eme Cru Classé estate in the Medoc, Bordeaux (on the left bank) now owned by AXA Millesimes.

Vintages presented: 2000, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010 of their Grand Vin together with the second label, Les Tourelles de Longueville.

The Grand Vin is Cabernet Sauvignon dominant and matures for 18-20 months, 80% in new barrels and 20% in 1 year-old barrels. The property has a mixture of soils and in common with much of Bordeaux the gravelly soil which offers better drainage is where the Cabernet Sauvignon is planted, Merlot is planted on the clay and sand it seems to prefer.

The two wines are always a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc and sometimes a little Petit Verdot depending on the conditions during the vintage for each of the varieties. For example the Grand Vin had 80% Cabernet Sauvignon in 2010 but in 2005 it was much lower at 63%.

Corinne told us that grapes from the older vines and the better terroir around the Chateau building go into the Grand Vin. She said that the better properties of the region face the river and generally have the better terroir. Typically at harvest time the property will employ 120 harvesters who will hand pick the grapes offering a degree of selection of the best fruit, further sorting is performed on the vibrating tables employed by the majority of top chateaux and then onto a high-tech optic sorting machine that has the ability to eject single berries that are not of the required quality for the Grand Vin. Fermentation can occur in over 40 different tanks allowing differentiation between individual vineyard plots and separate grape varieties.

So, on to the tasting. This was the first such vertical tasting the Chateau had done in such a developing country as Malaysia, a first for many of the tasters too. Here is a snapshot of the Grand Vin.

2000 An exceptional year on both sides of the river, right and left bank. The wine is a stunner, smooth and elegant, rounded and supple, nectar-like silky tannins, a real treat which will continue to evolve for many years.

2005 Again exceptional and one of the best according to the Chateau. Complex, dense and rich, very powerful, full-bodied and still retaining mellow tannins, it has an exceptionally long finish.

2006 A bit hot then quickly cooled and rainy for the harvest so the wine is still a bit tight and needs a bit of time and decanting before enjoying. The wine is indeed powerful with good quality tannins and a great structure offering much for the future.

2009 was an opulent show-off year and will be an easy wine to drink early. For such a young Bordeaux the wine is amazingly approachable, ripe dark fruits and spice, rich and concentrated and yet with subtle and smooth tannins. Worth tasting now but will also improve for many years.

2010 by comparison is still a bit young and will be a big wine for the future, high prices, for long-term investment. Complex aromas of red and black fruits and toast, rich and concentrated, still very youthful, perhaps too early to enjoy fully.

They make approximately 150,000 bottles of each wine, a lower figure than in the past to ensure high quality. The second wine, Les Tourelles de Longueville, trades at roughly half the price of the Grand V in. It is a different blend which tends to be more Merlot-dominant which some tasters find more easily approachable in its youth. Corinne stressed that it is made by the same maker on the same property; she feels this wine offers great value for money.

Both wines are now available in the Malaysian marketplace and on selected restaurant menus. They will not be the cheapest wines you will encounter but do come with a great pedigree.


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