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Reserve de la Comtesse, Pauillac 2016

Red Wine from France - Bordeaux
The stylish second wine of Pichon Comtesse delivers much of the fruit purity and finesse of the estate’s grand vin. With silky texture and lovely freshness on the palate, this is starting to show beautifully.
is no longer available
Code: CM20231A

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Cabernet Merlot
  • 13% Alcohol
  • Oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Now to 2033
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

Cru Classe Medoc, Graves

The original and most famous wine classification came about when the organisers of the 1855 Universal Exposition of Paris wanted, naturally enough, to show the finest wines of the Bordeaux region. Brokers dealing in the wines got together and produced two classifications of the best red and sweet wines respectively, based on the selling price of the wines at that time. The list was produced very soon after a request for it from the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce was made, strongly suggesting that there was an ‘unofficial’ hierarchy already well known to the brokers.

These Grand Cru Classé wines were ranked in five tiers and, apart from the famous promotion of Château Mouton Rothschild in 1973 and the addition of Château Cantemerle to the fourth growths soon after the classification was established, they have remained unchanged ever since. Effectively, they represent what should be the best wines of the Médoc with the one interloper, Château Haut-Brion from Pessac-Léognan in the...
The original and most famous wine classification came about when the organisers of the 1855 Universal Exposition of Paris wanted, naturally enough, to show the finest wines of the Bordeaux region. Brokers dealing in the wines got together and produced two classifications of the best red and sweet wines respectively, based on the selling price of the wines at that time. The list was produced very soon after a request for it from the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce was made, strongly suggesting that there was an ‘unofficial’ hierarchy already well known to the brokers.

These Grand Cru Classé wines were ranked in five tiers and, apart from the famous promotion of Château Mouton Rothschild in 1973 and the addition of Château Cantemerle to the fourth growths soon after the classification was established, they have remained unchanged ever since. Effectively, they represent what should be the best wines of the Médoc with the one interloper, Château Haut-Brion from Pessac-Léognan in the Graves region.

The wines of the right bank, such as Saint-Emilion and Pomerol were not included because their selling price was not as high at that time. Five first growths sit at the head of 62 properties, all of them from the Médoc except for Château Haut-Brion in Pessac-Léognan.

Naturally enough, there have been many unofficial revisions made over the years, with expert opinions brought to bear on what promotions and demotions might have been over the years, but none of these musings, no matter how reflective of changing standards and prices they might be, will change the stratification as it stands.

The classification is as follows:
First Growths (Premiers Crus)
Château Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac; Château Latour, Pauillac; Château Margaux, Margaux; Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan ; Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac.

Second Growths (Deuxièmes Crus)
Château Rauzan-Ségla, Margaux; Château Rauzan-Gassies, Margaux; Château Léoville-Las Cases, Saint-Julien; Château Léoville-Poyferré, Saint-Julien; Château Léoville-Barton, Saint-Julien; Château Durfort-Vivens, Margaux; Château Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien; Château Lascombes, Margaux; Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux; Château Pichon Longueville Baron, Pauillac; Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac; Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Saint-Julien; Château Cos d'Estournel, Saint-Estèphe; Château Montrose, Saint-Estèphe.

Third Growths (Troisièmes Crus)
Château Kirwan, Margaux; Château d'Issan (Margaux); Château Lagrange, Saint-Julien; Château Langoa-Barton, Saint-Julien; Château Giscours, Margaux; Château Malescot Saint Exupéry, Margaux; Château Cantenac-Brown, Margaux; Château Boyd-Cantenac, Margaux; Palmer, now Château Palmer, Margaux; Château La Lagune, Ludon (Haut-Médoc); Château Desmirail, Margaux; Château Dubignon, Margaux; Château Calon-Ségur, Saint-Estèphe; Château Ferrière, Margaux; Château Marquis d'Alesme Becker, Margaux.

Fourth Growths (Quatrièmes Crus)
Château Saint-Pierre, Saint-Julien; Château Talbot, Saint-Julien; Château Branaire-Ducru, Saint-Julien; Château Duhart-Milon, Pauillac; Château Pouget, Margaux; Château La Tour Carnet, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château Lafon-Rochet, Saint-Estèphe; Château Beychevelle, Saint-Julien; Château Prieuré-Lichine, Margaux; Château Marquis de Terme, Margaux.

Fifth Growths (Cinquièmes Crus)
Château Pontet-Canet, Pauillac; Château Batailley, Pauillac; Château Haut-Batailley, Pauillac; Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac; Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Pauillac; Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac; Château Lynch-Moussas, Pauillac; Château Dauzac, Margaux; Château d'Armailhac, Pauillac; Château du Tertre, Margaux; Château Haut-Bages-Libéral, Pauillac; Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac; Château Belgrave, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château de Camensac, Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc); Château Cos Labory, Saint-Estèphe; Château Clerc-Milon, Pauillac; Château Croizet Bages, Pauillac; Château Cantemerle, Macau (Haut-Médoc).

Alongside the reds resides the classification for Sauternes and Barsac from further up river on the Garonne. There, 27 estates make up a smaller pyramid of their own, topped by the legendary Château d’Yquem, which had been classified out on its own above all the other sweet wines of the region.

Since the 1885 classification there have been other such systems established. Those of Graves and Saint-Emilion, both established much later than the 1855 and both subject to change, changes which cause no end of trouble for the authorities as estates are promoted or, more contentiously demoted and seek legal redress for the perceived injustice.

Cru Bourgeois is a further classification in the Médoc, representing some 30% of the production of the area. It was established in 1932 to represent properties outside of the Grand Cru Classé estates, though it was not officially recognised by the French government until 2003. At that time the selection of properties entitled to use the designation was revised and, unsurprisingly, fiercely contested by those who were left outside the classification, leading to a legal decision annulling the original classification while their status is re-examined by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce. The list has previously been revised every 12 years, but from the 2018 vintage will be accredited every five years, and is based on the history terroir, winemaking and quality control of the properties, overseen by the Alliance des Crus Bourgeios de Médoc created in the same year as the revision. It is divided into three categories: Cru Bourgeios, Cru Bourgeios Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. In theory the fact that qualification for the designation is based on quality should see improvements in the quality of wines made under its nomenclature.
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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 with winemaker Nicolas...
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 with winemaker Nicolas Glumineau.

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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Bordeaux Vintage 2016 Médoc Cru Classé

Bordeaux has produced an abundance of superb wines in 2016. The reds exhibit real energy and vitality, with pure bouquets, plush silky tannins, plenty of mid-palate fruit and impressive length of flavour. Slightly lower-thanaverage alcohol levels, allied to the perfumed fruit and ripe tannins that typify the vintage, will ensure wines with exceptional balance and ageing potential. Comparisons of 2016 with previous vintages are hard to draw, and none of the owners and winemakers that we talked to during our visits were willing (or able) to suggest a similar vintage in terms of wine style. Nicolas Audebert, who makes the wines at Château Rauzan-Ségla, uses the description ‘un kilo de plumes’, or a pound of feathers for those preferring imperial measures, meaning that the wines have volume as opposed to weight. This comes closest to capturing the essence of the 2016s. Unlike last year, the successes of the 2016 vintage come from all corners of Bordeaux. Cabernets from the Médoc ripened...
Bordeaux has produced an abundance of superb wines in 2016. The reds exhibit real energy and vitality, with pure bouquets, plush silky tannins, plenty of mid-palate fruit and impressive length of flavour. Slightly lower-thanaverage alcohol levels, allied to the perfumed fruit and ripe tannins that typify the vintage, will ensure wines with exceptional balance and ageing potential. Comparisons of 2016 with previous vintages are hard to draw, and none of the owners and winemakers that we talked to during our visits were willing (or able) to suggest a similar vintage in terms of wine style. Nicolas Audebert, who makes the wines at Château Rauzan-Ségla, uses the description ‘un kilo de plumes’, or a pound of feathers for those preferring imperial measures, meaning that the wines have volume as opposed to weight. This comes closest to capturing the essence of the 2016s. Unlike last year, the successes of the 2016 vintage come from all corners of Bordeaux. Cabernets from the Médoc ripened beautifully from Margaux to Saint-Estèphe, as they did in PessacLéognan and the Graves, while both Pomerol and Saint-Emilion enjoyed a healthy, ripe merlot crop.

So-called second wines were almost uniformly excellent too. This is partly due to the fact that with cabernet sauvignon ripening so perfectly, many châteaux increased the proportion of that grape in their grand vin. The knock-on effect was that high-quality merlot grapes, normally destined for the first wine, ended up in the properties’ second wines, to their undoubted benefit.

One point of caution to note is that vineyards in some parts of Bordeaux this spring have been devastated by late frost (around 26th and 27th April), and consequently there will be little or no wine available from some châteaux in the 2017 vintage. The overused adage ‘buy now while stocks last’ may actually be relevant this year!
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2016 vintage reviews
2016 vintage reviews

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