Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

This second growth property gets its name from one of its earliest owners, Jacques de Pichon-Longueville, who obtained it in 1694 when he married its founder's daughter. It was originally joined with what is now another second growth property across the road, Pichon-Longueville (which used to be known as Pichon Baron), but when Baron Joseph de Pichon-Longueville died in 1850, he split the estate in two, dividing it equally between his two sons and three daughters.

One of his daughters, Virginie, who was married to the Count of Lalande, took control of running this estate and built the château here, and this is how it got its new name, differentiating it from its neighbour.

In 1925 the family sold the property to Edouard and Louis Miailhe. Pichon Lalande's high reputation and popularity owes much to May-Eliane de Lencquesaing - Edouard's daughter - who inherited the property in the mid-1970s when economic circumstances were difficult. She successfully made major efforts both to improve the wine and to publicise it - indeed, she was a great ambassador.

Initially, she was helped by Michel Delon of Léoville-Las Cases, who made the wine between 1975 and 1978, and the château went on to make consistently fine wine throughout the eighties, a time when many properties were under-performing. Without an obvious family successor, May Eliane sold the estate to Champagne Roederer in 2007, and the company is now successfully beginning to make its own mark.

A curiosity of Pichon Lalande is that nine of its 65 hectares actually lie in Saint-Julien: the vines are planted at the very south of the Pauillac appellation, bordering Saint-Julien, on Gunz gravel over clay.

The wine is fermented in stainless steel vats before blending: the first selection becomes the grand vin, and the second selection becomes Réserve de la Comtesse, the estate's long-standing second wine. The blend of the grand vin is 60% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot and 5% each of cabernet franc and petit verdot, which spends 18 months in oak barrels, half of them new. It can age for between 10 and 40 years.

At its best, Pichon Lalande is a beautifully harmonious wine: elegant, fragrant and seductive as much as powerful, in contrast to the denser, more majestic Pichon across the road.

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