L'Assemblage Blog

Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande – A retrospective, 2000 back to 1961

Posted on 24/09/19, filed under Bordeaux, Wine Tasting | No Comments

Mid September is a pleasant time of year in Westchester county, New York,  where this fascinating vertical tasting took place.  A dozen of us sat around the table of a good friend, connoisseur and keen collector.  Pichon Lalande was living up to it’s fabled reputation  expressing the opulent fruit, herbal, cedar notes and minerality that I look for in this super 2nd Pauillac.  We were all impressed with the youthful, vibrancy among the older vintages.  

With thanks to our generous host and Heritage auctions, for underwriting this tasting, a significant amount of money was raised for two well deserving charities, Sloan kettering cancer research and Midnight Run. The Artist’s palate of Dutchess County laid on several delicious courses to complement the wines. 

Served blind initially was this bottle provided by myself for a bit of fun. Figeac 1986 was surprisingly quite light garnet in colour suggesting it was at least 10 years older but the aromatics reveal plenty of red fruits, old rose petal, herb and tea leaf notes. More like an old school, elegantly styled St Julien. Not a big wine but well poised with red currant, spice, subtle cedar nuances and mixed herbs. A mineral,saline edginess carries through on the finish. Charming with subtle complexity. 90/100

Pichon Lalande 2000

Not revealing much beneath its oaky bouquet. Just a glimpse of blackberry, herb and menthol. On the palate it’s big and brooding with dense four square yet fine tannins. It bears rich meaty currant fruit and mocha with hints of spice and vanilla. The oak is still prominent but the black fruit is all there packed in. Give it 20 years to reach its apogee and fully resolve itself. It reminds me of a modern day 1970 stylistically but better. 95+/100

Pichon Lalande 1996

Deep ruby with pure intense black and red berry fruit, with floral hints and cedar . This Cabernet dominant fruit flows into a finely balanced palate with enough silky plump merlot to pad the mid palate. There are notes of cigar box, mint and graphite contributing to the complexity. Exquisitely balanced with svelte tannins and a persistent finish. Absolute classic. 96+/100

Pichon Lalande 1990

Along with Ducru this is considered one of the failures of the vintage. The 1990 has a deep mauve robe, the aromatics display mixed berry, herb and pepper. The fruit falls short leaving just the oak tannins and an alcoholic kick on the finish. It’s disjointed and poorly balanced. 80/100

Pichon Lalande 1989

Sweet soft ripe berry fruit. There are some secondary sous bois, soy and graphite nuances intermingled with the fruit. The ripe plum and mulberry fruit is lush and opulent. It dominates the mid palate. The acidity seems low and tannins have fully integrated over the years. Forward and delicious. Drink now to 2024. 95/100

Pichon Lalande 1988

Bright ruby with brick red rim. Subtle ripe plum, expresso and mocha notes. Meaty, medium bodied mid palate. Supple textured tannins supporting the ripe fruit, vanilla and cedar mixed with tobacco leaf. This is well balanced with enough acidity and moderate alcohol. One of the best wines of the region In this vintage. 91/100

Pichon Lalande 1986

Bright ruby with slight bricking. Earthy, minerality, ripe berry fruits with forest floor, pepper and cedarwood. Meaty mid palate displays sweet solid fruit, textured tannins, vanilla and graphite notes. A solid classical style that is drinking beautifully now. Drink to 2030. 94/100.

Pichon Lalande 1985

An exotic bouquet of ripe mulberry fruit, sous-bois, soy and Asian spices. Medium bodied with smooth tannins and moderately low acidity. Silky light sweet fruit, spice and a long lateral finish. Not classic but quite delicious now. Drink up. 92/100

Pichon Lalande 1982

Intense mature blackberry, cedar, vanilla and graphite nose. Fabulous depth and purity on the palate. Lush berry silky fruit supported by filigree tannins with mixed spice notes. Generously layered and opulent. Delicious Pauillac and one of the vintage highlights. Will continue to drink well for another 20 years. 99/100

Pichon Lalande 1981

Medium bodied with sweet mulberry and blackberry confit with sous bois. The acidity seems quite low. Mature, meaty with soft textured tannins. Surprisingly vibrant. Drink now. 91/100

Pichon Lalande 1978

Very pretty bouquet of old dark fruits, tobacco leaf, dried herbs and old cedar. Medium bodied, low acid, smooth tannins and a finish that gently fades. Very fine for this good vintage saved by an Indian summer. 89/100

Pichon Lalande 1975

Lighter ruby to brick red. Dusty old fruit, burnt dried herbs. Light to medium bodied, old spice, fading fruit with volatility acid on the finish. It was a good wine for the vintage but now falling away. 83/100

Pichon Lalande 1970

Garnet red with brick amber. Dusty bouquet of old cedar, leather and tea leaf. Medium bodied palate, some dry tannin extract remains as the sweet currant fruit gradually fades on the finish. This exudes old school winemaking charm . 90/100

Pichon Lalande 1962

Served blind, soft red fruit with leather, forest floor and spice. Some thought this was a Rhône but the minerally tobacco notes are classic Pauillac with that hint old cedar wood. Pretty though just holding up. 88/100

Pichon Lalande 1961

Deep garnet hues. Dark plum fruits., mocha, cigar box with hints of cinnamon spice on the bouquet. Opulent, full bodied mid palate, rich lush fruit with fine velvety tannins, not unlike the 1982 in style with a intense harmonious finish. Drink now but can enjoy for several more years. Remarkably vibrant example. Profound. 99/100

A bottle of 1900 Quinta do Sibio Vintage Port  was opened to conclude this fabulous dinner.  This came from a good cellar in deepest West Sussex .  Sibio was one of the better single quintas in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately it had not had enough time to settle after just a week  of standing.  It’s  colour was amber brown and still cloudy.  The fruit was a little dried out but it had some interesting fig, caramel and almond notes with adequate length. 83/100

By G J Willings

Bordeaux 2018 – An Exceptional Vintage

Posted on 16/04/19, filed under Bordeaux | No Comments

Earlier this month we tasted our way around Bordeaux to assess the 2018 vintage. Fortunately it was a worthwhile trip with many successful wines that transcend classifications and appellations. However, it was not a homogeneous vintage but localised to specific sites.

Several vineyards were hit by hail and a wet spring into early summer led to an outbreak of mildew, reducing crops drastically. Those practicing biodynamic and organic viticulture suffered especially. Château Pontet-Canet and Château Palmer reported yields of less than 11hl/ha. Fine dry sunny weather in the second half of the growing season, from mid July into October, helped to save the harvest. Very hot day temperatures in July and August were moderated by cool nights, which preserved grape acidity levels.

Growers were rewarded with fully ripe healthy grapes, resulting in many superb wines. These were characterised by pure sweet berry fruit, big ripe tannins and moderately high alcohols. The top red growths have made the finest wines, although there are plenty of surprises across the region. We were particularly impressed with tannin management and fruit selection. There is less over extraction nowadays, more precise winemaking and better overall balance. This is an excellent vintage, hypothetically like a blend that presents the classic, pure finesse of the 2016s with the rich opulence of 2009 and the 2015s.

The dry whites are largely good, especially the Sauvignon based styles. The Sauternes and Barsacs were more variable. Some had just enough botrytis to make luscious mid weight dessert wines.

We will be offering a selection of the best chateaux as they are released. As quantity is less than last year and quality is greater, some producers will try to raise their prices. Hopefully these will be no more than the 2016 release offers.

Our highlights are as follows:

  • Cheval Blanc
  • Cos d'Estournel
  • Figeac
  • Pichon Longueville Lalande
  • Lafite Rothschild
  • Latour 
  • Leoville Las Cases
  • Mouton Rothschild
  • Haut Brion
  • Ducru-Beaucaillou
  • Pavie
  • Haut Brion Blanc
  • Pichon Longueville Baron
  • La Mission Haut Brion
  • Lynch Bages
  • Pavillon Blanc du Ch Margaux
  • Montrose
  • Vieux Chateau Certan
  • Beychevelle
  • Carruades de Lafite
  • Branaire-Ducru
  • Leoville Barton
  • La Mission Haut Brion Blanc
  • Domaine de Chevalier
  • Margaux

Domaine Prieure Roch 2016 – Tasting

Posted on 05/11/18, filed under Burgundy, Wine Tasting | No Comments

Domaine Prieuré Roch consists of 14 hectares of vines mainly in the Côtes de Nuits, around Nuits Saint Georges. The owner, Henri-Fréderic Roch, is also co -gérant of Domane Romanée-Conti and nephew of Mme Bize Leroy. He established the Domaine in 1988, applying similar meticulous care in both the vineyard and the cellar. Roch’s mission is to make the purest and most natural expression as possible from great pinot plots.

Today, the talented Yannick Champ manages the operations from their cellars in Prémeaux. With 15 years at the helm, the strive for perfection is clear to see. These wines may not have the power and body of DRC or the polished tannins of Domaine Leroy, but they exude a similar class. Their burgundies are packed with terroir expression and flavour, whilst still being light on their feet. The 2016s we tasted last week were sensual compelling pinots, bursting with vibrant aromas and delicate, detailed textures.

Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Clos des Corvées Vieilles Vignes 2016 (0.69ha Monopoly)

As much as 85% of the grapes were lost to frost in 2006, so for the first time the 1er Cru Clos des Argillières and Villages VV were blended with the 1er Clos des Corvées monopoly. High quality whole bunch millerandage grapes from 40-45 year old vines were vinified together. Yannick was pleased with the outcome but never wants to experience the challenges of having to blend affectively the ingredients of three wines together. Around 5000 bottles were produced organically, using no additives, no pumping over and no filtration. The wines were bottled under usual natural high pressure weather conditions in July 2017.

Intense raw pure cranberry, black berry aromatics infused with subtle herbs, medium bodied yet well structured tight fruit and a fresh seam of acidity right through the long finish. Linear style without the breadth of the more opulent 2015, gentle tannins, spice and a mineral, saline edginess. 91-93/100

Vosne Romanée Vieilles Vignes 2013

As with the previous wine, this was another challenging vintage. It was not just down to frost damage but rain and achieving optimum ripeness in a cool growing season. Yannick produced something very special considering. He blended the Vosne Le Clos Goillotte and Vosne Les Hautes -Maizières together, so you have the most serious village VV that money can buy from a difficult vintage.

The aromatics are off the charts, intense red berries and cherry pith, floral nuances with notes of cinnamon and rhubarb. Medium, light in body but so flavoursome reflecting the greatness of the terroir, especially the layered limestone minerality from the Clos Goillotte. Combined with mixed herb, spice and subtle tannins, this culminates into a long, dry, precisely balanced finish. 92/100

Vosne Romanée 1er Les Suchots 2016 (1.02 ha)

Since 1994 they have rented this plot from DRC. Whole cluster vinification in 100% new oak. Classic perfumed aromas of violets, raspberries and spice notes. Fresh vibrant red fruits follow through with medium depth and a long mineral drive. Linearity with firm acidity and crystalline fruit. Elegantly composed. 93-94/100

Clos Vougeot 2016 (0.68ha)

Ruby red with red berry fruit aromas. The palate displays solid raw fruit extract showing depth, earthiness and a layered structure. There is a dry, savoury, tannic character. It needs at least 3-4 years to evolve. Too tight and tense for now. 92-94/100

Chambertin Clos de Bèze 2016 (1ha)

Deep black and red fruits, fresh and intense. That ripe pure fruit is layered and beautifully textured on the palate, balanced by superfine tannins and fresh acidity that lifts the finish. There are subtle herb and oak nuances in the background and a mineral backbone that lingers down the length of the wine. Very fine detail here compels you to take another sip. Will drink best from 2025 onwards. Very impressive. 96-98/100

Vosne Romaneé Le Clos Goillotte Monopole 2016 (0.55ha)

Bright ruby and mauve robe. Powerful aromas of raspberry, cherry skin and white flowers. Medium to full bodied on the palate displaying layers of ripe fruit, subtle dry tannins and that mineral spine that seems to hold it all together with precise acidity. There is a creamy texture that gently unfolds on a perfectly balanced long finish. This is rich and seductive in style, very much like its neighbour La Tache, and an ethereal charm closer to grand cru Leroy. Fabulous stuff  95-97/100

Tasted by Guy Willings, 1st November 2018