1996 Pichon Lalande

96
RP
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Product ID
1996-pichon-lalande

Wine Critic Reviews for 1996 Pichon Lalande

The 1996 Pichon-Lalande is just as awesome from bottle as it was from multiple cask tastings. For Pichon-Lalande, the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon is atypically high. This wine normally contains 35-50% Merlot in the blend, but the 1996 is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. Only 50% of the estate's production made it into the grand vin. The color is a saturated ruby/purple. The nose suggests sweet, nearly overripe Cabernet Sauvignon, with its blueberry/blackberry/cassis scents intermixed with high quality, subtle, toasty new oak. Deep and full-bodied, with fabulous concentration and a sweet, opulent texture, this wine was singing in full harmony when I tasted it in January. Given the wine's abnormally high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, I would suspect it will close down. It possesses plenty of tannin, but the wine's overwhelming fruit richness dominates its personality. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2025.

Robert Parker | 96 RP
The 1996 Pichon-Lalande has long been one of my favorite wines from this period. A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot, it has a quintessential Pauillac nose: very intense, brilliant and delineated, with pure blackberry, graphite and mint aromas bursting from the glass. The palate seems to have softened just a little over the last couple of years, and there is great depth here. Dense black fruit, laced with cedar, hints of espresso and leather, fans out toward the grippy finish, which is just beginning to entertain more secondary aromas of sage and spice on the aftertaste. In many ways the '96 presages the style of wine that Nicolas Glumineau pursues today. Brilliant. Tasted at a vertical tasting at the château.

Vinous Media | 96 VM
I have had better bottles of this particular vintage from Pichon Comtesse, and in this lineup the Pichon Baron is the one that stood out, but this is still a brilliant wine and is rightly considered to be among the best of the vintage. Full of concentrated blackberry and blackcurrant fruits, with sweet cedar and saffron spice notes as it opens, gentle liquorice root and charred oak on the finish. A higher proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the bottle than in most years (certainly at the time), and it has helped it to remain enticingly firm. 50% of production went into the first wine.
Drinking Window 2021 - 2036.

Decanter | 95 DEC
(Château Pichon-Lalande) The 1996 Château Pichon-Lalande is a fine wine in the making, but this is one of the longest distance runners in the stable of the last quarter century here and the wine is still many years away from fully softening up on the backend and drinking at its apogee. The bouquet is still quite youthful and very promising, offering up a lovely mix of cassis, sweet dark berries, gravel, a hint of black tea, tobacco leaf, smoke and cedary wood. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and rock solid at the core, with fine focus and grip, sound acids and outstanding balance on the youthful and energetic finish. There is plenty of inner fruit density here to carry the tannins, so I have no worries about the balance of this wine and if one is young enough, then eventually, they will have a really lovely bottle on their hands. But, patience is still very much necessary for this structured wine! (Drink between 2032-2095)

John Gilman | 94 JG
Presents a taut, brisk feeling, with savory, cedar, singed vanilla and pencil shaving notes weaving around a core of bramble, cassis and blackberry fruit. The cedary spine holds the finish, offering an old-school feel. Should last a while, though it won't flesh out any more. For fans of the more austere style.--Non-blind Pichon Lalande vertical (July 2014). Drink now through 2030.

Wine Spectator | 92 WS

Wine Details on 1996 Pichon Lalande

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Producer Chateau Pichon Lalande: With 102 hectares under vine in a privileged location in the southern part of the Pauillac appellation a few strides from the Gironde Estuary, hails the esteemed estate of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse De Lalande. Here, the prized soils of perhaps the greatest terroir of all Bordeaux tell a story. The story of a grand and colorful history dating back to 1694 when a dowry bestowed would, unknowingly, come to be recognized as one of the greatest wine estates in the world.

The formation of the original vineyard was created by Pierre de Mazure de Rauzan in 1694. His daughter, Therese, received the estate as a dowry when she married Jacques de Pichon Longueville, who was not only famous for his efforts as a chateau owner but also for being elected as the first President of the Bordeaux Parliament. Years later, at 19 years of age, Baron Joseph de Pichon Longueville succeeded his mother in taking over Pichon Lalande.

Joseph de Pichon Longueville remained in control of the estate for 70 years, witnessing three French revolutions, five kings, two republics and one empire. His undaunted efforts during trying times, awarded his commitment with a magnificent wine estate with 50 hectares under vine (at the time). On the eve of his death, he split the estate equally between his five children, two-fifths to his sons and three to his daughters. This event would change the landscape of the Medoc forever.

During the 18th century, the wine growing influence at Pichon Lalande was feminine in nature as it was managed by the three daughters. Perhaps this explains the wine’s sensuous qualities. After a few years the estate was officially broken up and thus creating Pichon Lalande and Pichon Baron. The properties had two separate identities and ended up making very different styles of wine.

The fruits of Baron Joseph’s efforts were recognized in the Official Medoc Classification of 1855, when Pichon Lalande was awarded Second Growth status. The estate would continue to be controlled by the same family until 1925 when it was purchased by the Miailhe family. Pichon Lalande would enter into the modern era under the tutelage of the Miailhe family’s tireless efforts in bringing global recognition to not only Pichon Lalande but to the entire region.

The estate would be sold a final time in 2007 to Champagne Louis Roerderer, a family owned company managed by Frederic Rouzaud. Today, the third family in three centuries presides over the destiny of Chateau Pichon Lalande with the aim of perpetuating the excellence of this great Pauillac wine.

With close proximity to the Gironde Estuary, with neighbors Chateau Latour and of course Pichon Baron, the terroir of Pichon Lalande is prized and celebrated as possibly the greatest in the Medoc, if not Bordeaux. The estuary has benefited the vines by protecting against the harsh weather and even helped to protect the closest vines during a regional climactic incident in which frost devastated much of the vineyards in Pauillac.

The vineyard is divided into 100 separate parcels in which planting is dictated by terrain and soil structure. Four varietals are planted which are used to source the wines of Pichon Lalande, their second wine, Pichon Comtesse Reserve (previously named Reserve de la Comtesse), and a miniscule bottling of a third wine, Les Gartieux de Pichon Lalande. Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on gravel rises at the top of slopes, while Merlot is planted in sandy gravel soils on cool, damp clay subsoils. Cabernet Franc thrives on the soils with higher clay content with excellent sun exposure. Petit Verdot is the most weather-sensitive varietal grown on the Medoc but thrives on sandy-gravel soils. This varietal is planted closest to the estuary or where it is protected by other plots. The blend becomes a concentrated, full-bodied, smooth wine that expresses intense minerality, depth and richness – the very essence of its terroir.

Chateau Pichon Lalande has become a legendary producer in Pauillac, the Medoc, Bordeaux, and the world. This estate is now globally recognized and its most recent vintages may be the greatest in its long, esteemed history. With a history of such success, and becoming even greater in recent years, the future looks fruitful for Chateau Pichon Lalande.
Region Bordeaux: Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.

The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Country France: Words fail us when trying to adequately portray France's place in the world of wine. It's downright impossible to imagine what wine would feel and taste like had it not been for France's many, many viticultural pioneers. Fine wine is the blood of France's vigorously beating heart, and it finds itself in many aspects of French culture. With a viticultural history that dates all the way back to the 6th century BC, France now enjoys its position as the most famous and reputable wine region on the planet. If you have a burning passion for masterfully crafted, mouth-watering, mind-expanding wines, then regular visits to France are probably already in your schedule, and for a good reason.
Type of Wine Bordeaux Red: Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend: The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

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