1999 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Pauillac Bordeaux France Wine Tasting Note

  1. 1999 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron (Pauillac)

    1. Medium bodied, but not exactly light, there is a leafy, herbal note on top of the bright red fruits, tobacco and cedar. The wine is fresh in nature, soft in texture and ready to drink, with its red fruit and tobacco leaning. This is not a wine for long term aging.

      90 points - Tasted
Pichon Baron3 Wine Tasting Notes, Ratings

Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron Vineyards, Terroir, Grapes, Winemaking

The 73 hectare vineyard of Chateau Pichon Baron are planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. However, the Cabernet Franc and the Petit Verdot are reserved exclusively for the second wine. This marks a change in the makeup of the vineyard with the addition of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and an increase in the amount of Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the vineyard since the mid 1990's.

The 40 hectares used to produce the grapes for the Grand Vin are located on the plateau of Pauillac, which touches the vineyard of Chateau Pichon Lalande and overlooks the vineyard of Chateau Latour, across the street from the chateau and close to the St. Julien border. On the far south, the vineyard connects with Chateau Leoville Las Cases and Chateau Leoville Poyferre, in Saint Julien. The terroir is is mostly deep gravel soil. The vineyard is planted to a vine density is 9,000 vines per hectare. The vines here are old, averaging close to 65 years of age. The size of the Pichon Baron vineyard has increased over the years. As a point of comparison, during the early 1980's, only 35 hectares were under vine. That is a far cry from they have planted today. But clearly this has not been a detriment to the quality of the wines as you can easily see.

The vineyard is divided into 4 main blocks. Those 4 main blocks can be further subdivided into 70 different parcels. The terroir is mostly deep gravel, sand clay soils. They have slopes and elevations, which at their peak has an elevation of 13 meters. Their best terroir is a 20 hectare parcel of old vines, located directly in front of the chateau. However, they also have vines to the north, and in the far west of the Pauillac appellation.

Today, a greater emphasis is placed on sorting in the vineyards and at the chais, using optical sorting technology. A good part of the reason for the dramatic increase in quality at Pichon Baron today is the amount of selection that that takes place, which increases the number of cases for the second wine, Les Tourelles de Longueville, while decreasing the Grand Vin. As an example, for the 2000 vintage, close to 30,000 cases of Pichon Baron were produced, with only a small amount of wine going into the second wine. Today, the production of Pichon Baron has been cut almost in half!

Chateau Pichon Baron strives to remain on top of the technology curve. They were on the first estates to embrace the use of satellite imagery for their vineyards.

Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron Winemaking

To produce and vinify the wine of Chateau Pichon Baron, they have 44 tanks in total. 44 vats are stainless steel vats of varying sizes. The vats range in size from 64 hectoliters all the way up to 220 hectoliters. They also have 4 oak tanks which are all 80 hectoliters. The oak vats are always reserved for the Merlot. The size of each fermentation vat corresponds to the specific size and needs of each parcel, allowing for very precise wine making on a plot by plot basis at Chateau Pichon Baron. This allows for not only parcel by parcel selection, but by grape variety as well. At times, with all the available vats, selections can be conducted inside individual parcels as well. The new cellars were designed by the noted Architect Alain Triaud, who is the brother of Jean Louis Triaud, the owner of Chateau St. Pierre and Chateau Gloria in St. Julien.

Malolactic fermentation takes place in tank. The wine of Chateau Pichon Baron is aged in an average of 80% new, French oak barrels for 18 months. Of course the percentage of new oak and the time in barrel varies, depending on the character of the vintage. The blend for Chateau Pichon Baron can also vary from vintage to vintage. However, the trend since at least 2000, has been to add more Cabernet Sauvignon to the blend. Production of Pichon Baron averages 18,000 cases per year.

The best vintages of Chateau Pichon Baron are: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2005, 2003, 2000, 1996, 1990, 1989 and 1961. I've had some older vintages from the 1950's, 1940's and 1930's that have been outstanding. If you see an older bottle, it is definitely worth trying.

There is a second wine which made its debut with the 1983 vintage. At the time, it was called Baronet de Pichon. Due to a copyright issue with the name, that was already held by Mouton Rothschild, the name was changed in 1986 to Les Tourelles de Longueville.

Starting with the 2012 vintage, Pichon Baron added a new, higher end second wine to their portfolio; Les Griffons de Pichon Baron. Les Griffons de Pichon Baron is produced from some of the estate's oldest vines that are also used to create the grand vin. The blend is on average, 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. The wine is aged in 60% new, French oak barrels for up to 18 months. The production is close to 3,000 cases per vintage. The same team also owns and produces Chateau Pibran, a fairly priced, Pauillac wine.

When to Drink Chateau Pichon Baron, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time

Chateau Pichon Baron is not a wine to drink on the young side. The wine is usually far too tannic, powerful and backwards during its youth. Young vintages can be decanted for an average of 3-6 hours, give or take. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment. Chateau Pichon Baron is usually better with at least 15 years of bottle age. Of course that can vary slightly, depending on the vintage character. Chateau Pichon Baron offers its best drinking and should reach peak maturity between 15 and 50 years of age after the vintage.

Serving Chateau Pichon Baron with Wine and Food Pairings

Chateau Pichon Baron is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Chateau Pichon Baron is best paired with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised and grilled dishes. Chateau Pichon Baron is also good when matched with Asian dishes, rich fish courses like tuna, salmon, mushrooms and pasta.

The estate made two changes starting with the 2012 vintage. Consumers are now able to go to the website for the chateau and use the visual recognition system that is now placed on the bottles on both on the capsule and back label. Each capsule and back label has a unique code they can enter into the website to show if their bottle is authentic and the consumer can also know where the wine was initially sold, as a way to guarantee its authenticity. It's a step in the right direction that helps fight wine fraud and counterfeiting.

Additionally, the same technical team that is responsible for Chateau Pichon Baron produces Cap Royal. A quick glance at the label will remind you of the relationship. Cap Royal is available as a Merlot dominated wine from Bordeaux Superieur. Cap Royal is also available as a white Bordeaux wine made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Cap Royal is a true value Bordeaux wine.