Talk about a gorgeous winery! The iconic grounds alone should make you gasp and we took lots of photos and selfies before even starting the tour. (Facebook album link here.)
Once our guide met us we learned that the winery started in 1694 with 73 hectares when the Baron de Longeville married the daughter of a winemaker. The land, much like Leoville (see Part III of this series that ran on 8/7/15) was eventually divided between five family members in 1850. In 2012 the “Baron” was added as a nickname for the winery. After the revolution the French church confiscated all vineyards. The baron had survived and was able to buy more vineyards to add to his estate.
The largest varietal grown on the estate is Cabernet Sauvignon with 40 hectares, and they only have “a drop of Merlot.”
It takes two vines to make one bottle.
No 100-year old vines in the vineyard like we have in the U.S.
The Château was built in 1851.
Their bottling program is also like Leoville in that the wines spend 6 months in barrel before blending, and then another 18 months in barrels.
They only use French oak but the “recipe changes every year” so they get the barrels the way they want them (a degree of toasting) from the coopers.
All wines comprise at least two grape varietals in the blend.
They use the gravity flow method to deliver juice to vats from above; they also have vats both above and below the floor.
“Progress is made in the vineyards” not by watching what other wineries are doing.
The tasting room, much like many we saw, is large and inviting in an effort to do one thing like Napa: make the wine accessible to the consumer. (We made appointments, which are necessary. You can do that, hire a guide or schedule a tour.)
They produce three wines, two are second labels. Thankfully we got to sample a few:
2012 Les Tourrelles
Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Balanced tart fruit and spice, well done, look for it at K & L and Wally’s. 91 Eve Points.
2012 Les Griffons
55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon
Darker fruit, pepper, more depth, smoke, can be found offered by the glass in some restaurants as it’s a Drink Now wine. 93 Eve Points.
2009 Château Pichon Baron
Due to the vineyard yield (it was a hot dry vintage) it is 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot.
Dusty plums, beautiful dark fruit layers and perfect balance with tannins. Loved this one, said it was perfect for the American Palate. 96 Eve points
2012 Château Pichon Baron
80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot
Dark, dry, tart and balanced. Perfect when aged. 95 Eve points.
(Appointment courtesy Planet Bordeaux)
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com