Friday, February 6, 2015

Vertical Tasting of Château Pichon-Longueville Baron with Jean-Rene Matignon and Panos Kakaviatos in Washington DC, USA

Picture: Vertical Tasting of Château Pichon-Longueville Baron with Jean-Rene Matignon and Panos Kakaviatos at Ripple in Washington DC, USA

For the last 6 years, Panos Kakaviatos - based in Strasbourg, France - has organized a Grand Bordeaux tasting in Washington DC in the beginning of the year, when he spends a few weeks in his hometown. This year’s Washington DC Grand Bordeaux Tasting featured Château Pichon-Longueville, co-presented by Technical Director Jean-Rene Matignon and Panos Kakaviatos at Restaurant Ripple.

Pictures: Ripple General Manager and Sommelier Danny Fisher with Jean-Rene Matignon

The evening began at 6:30 pm with Krug 2000 Vintage Champagne, courtesy of Sommeilier and Wine Educator Maria Denton, followed by a five-course meal, prepared by Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley, accompanied by 13 vintages of Château Pichon-Longueville: 1989, 1990 and all vintages in 2000 to 2010 – all orchestrated by Ripple General Manager and Sommelier Danny Fisher.

The company was terrific and included: Dave McIntyre (Washington Post), Mark Wessels (MacArthur Beverages), Ben Giliberti (Calvert Woodley), Michael Sands (Calvert Woodley), Aaron Nix-Gomez (Hogshead – A Wine Blog), to name a few.

For this posting, my wife Annette Schiller, ombiasyPR and WineTours, and I split up the work: Annette provided the tasting notes and I did the rest.

As it stands, Annette’s forthcoming Wine Tour by ombiasy to Bordeaux in September later this year does not include a visit of Château Pichon-Longueville Baron. But in view of the very pleasant evening with Jean, Annette might include Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, even including lunch with Jean-Rene Matignon, in the tour (at the expense, of course, of another estate). If you are interested in joining us, contact Annette or me.

See here:
4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Picture: Annette and Christian Schiller with Jean-Rene Matignon

Château Pichon Longueville Baron

Château Pichon Longueville Baron (often referred to as Pichon Baron) in Pauillac is one of 15 Deuxièmes Crus in the Classification of 1855. It was once part of a larger estate, owned by Pierre de Rauzan, along with Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. In 1850 the estate was divided into the two current Pichon estates facing each other as one enters Pauillac along the D2 highway. Since 1987, Jean-Rene Matignon has worked at Pichon Baron as Technical Director. In 1987 the estate was purchased by French insurance company AXA, who immediately appointed Jean-Michel Cazes of Château Lynch-Bages as administrator. The property is currently managed by Christian Seely.

Picture: Château Pichon Longueville Baron

Château Pichon Baron's 73 hectares are situated at the southern end of Pauillac, near border with the Saint-Julien-Beychevelle appellation, and planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (35%), Cabernet Franc (4%) and Petit Verdot (1%). The average age of the vines is 30 years.

Grapes are harvested and sorted by hand, and then macerated for 20-30 days, and fermented at 28-32 °C in temperature controlled stainless steel vats of varying sizes. The wine is transferred into oak barrels for aging after finishing its malolactic fermentation. The estate also produces a second wine, Les Tourelles de Longueville.


2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut – France, Champagne

Panos Kakaviatos: What a way to start a vertical of Chateau Pichon Baron! Marvelous bubbly. Combines citrusy verve with a creamy mid palate. Fine bubbles, clean aromas of brioche, lemon and lime fruit, subtle notes of red apple and stone fruit, the flavors echo in your palate and the texture is smooth with a full bodied feel that caresses all the while impressing you with substance and corpulence leading to a long and tantalizing finish. (97 pts.)

Pictures: Reception, with Maria Denton, Panos Kakaviatos, Annette Schiller, Michael Sands (Calvert and Woodley), Aaron Nix Gomez (Hogshead – A Wine Blog), Cathrine Todd (Sherry-Lehmann, NYC)

Tasting and Dinner

As referred to above, the tasting notes below are the tasting notes of Annette Schiller. They may also reflect my comments as well as those of Howard Cooper and his wife, as we were sharing a table.

Co-host Panos Kakaviatos as already provided his tasting notes on Wine-Chronicles, as has Aaron Nix-Gomez on Hogshead - A Wine Blog. Aaron’s posting also include remarks byJ Jean-Rene Matignon, which I am re-issuing here.
Pictures: Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Dinner at Ripple

Panos Kakaviatos summarized the evening as follows: The wines of Pichon Baron have been particularly excellent in recent memory since the 2000 vintage. Their investments in the vineyard and the vat room have borne fruit especially in vintages since 2000. And yet, 1989 and 1990 were both marvelous, made from higher yields. No false notes from any of the 13 vintages enjoyed by assembled merchants, sommeliers, wine bloggers and wine lovers who attended this tasting dinner on a cold January Martin Luther King Day in the nation’s capital. And a word of praise to the relatively weak 2007 vintage, which was charming and very aromatically pleasing for current enjoyment, even though it, too, has Pauillac power, as it should, with tannic structure

First Flight and Course

stuffed bone marrow - caviar, brioche

Vintages: 2006, 2007, 2008

Pictures: stuffed bone marrow - caviar, brioche

Jean-Rene Matignon: In the 2006 vintage, the Cabernet Sauvignon was very ripe and the wine shows a lot of minerality. The 2007 vintage experienced a tropical summer with humidity and low ripeness. The fruit was slowly picked. The wine is for drinking now. The 2008 vintage demonstrates a lot of potential. With low yields and a strict selection the production level was low. This wine was assembled in the new cellar, built in 2006, that has more space allowing the lots to be kept separate for a precise selection.

Annette Schiller: 2006: On first sight or better said first sniff, the nose was not very expressive. After some time in the glass, the bouquet opened up a bit, but remained restraint. It was on the palate where the wine surprised. The wine had lots of substance, was well structures and I felt complete harmony between pronounced tannins, layers of flavors, and acidity.

2007: This wine came across as very different as the 2006. It immediately seduced with powerful aromas of black fruit, initially a bit of barnyard on the nose which evaporated while having the first course, it left memories of a combination of wet leaves, black fruit juice, leather. The structure was also powerful, but the tannins were quieter and it did not achieve this delicious harmony as the 2006.

2008: On the nose this wine was beautiful with delicate red berry aromas, not as forward as the 2007 but a lot more forceful than the 2006. On the palate, this was a full-bodied, complex wine with powerful tannins, spicy notes, minerality, and a good aftertaste.

My personal favorite was the 2006, but with the hearty bone marrow dish the 2008 was the better match.

Second Flight and Course

duck prosciutto - arugula, apple, celery root

Vintages: 2001, 2002, 2004

Picture: duck prosciutto - arugula, apple, celery root

Jean-Rene Matignon: The 2001 vintage saw a green harvest and produced a wine that is elegant and balanced with very good potential. The 2002 vintage saw a very cold spring where they lost many berries. Good weather in September pushed the ripeness into balance but still left a low-yield. Some green berries made it into the wine. The 2004 vintage experienced very good, regular weather that provided a big challenge to reduce quantity. There was a green harvest and the largest quantity of generic wine made.

Annette Schiller: 2001: Gorgeous nose of red fruits and spicy flavors. Also a powerful wine with a velvety mouthfeel and well integrated tannins. There was a voluptuous ripeness and impressive harmony on the palate with a lengthly fantastic finish.

2002: On the nose it was similar to the 2001 but more Cabernet driven with wonderful cassis flavors, and some pine notes. It was similar to the 2001, full-bodied, dense, with silky tannins, and a rich dark chocolate flavor on the palate. The long-lasting finish stays in my mind.

2004: The first impression in the glass is the similarity with the 2001 and the 2002: the gorgeous fruit nose. On the palate it is a bit harsher, more tannin driven and shows less harmony between fruit aromas, tannins, and acidity than the other two. Maybe the harmony comes together in the years to come.

All the three wines in this flight showed a longer finish than the three of the first flight.

It is hard to say which wine I liked best with the duck-prosciutto salad, Maybe the edgy 2004 was the best match with a salad.

Pictures: Pictures: Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Dinner at Ripple

Third Flight and Course

salsify tortellini - short rib ragu

Vintages: 2000, 2003, 2005

Picture: salsify tortellini - short rib ragu

Jean-Rene Matignon: The 2000 vintage saw a special blending of the wine with managing director Christian Seely. This was a vintage for winemaking with the revelation coming after tasting through the tanks and vats. It marks the beginning of the great vintages, classic for the Bordelais, and a taste for the world. The 2003 vintage was famously hot and difficult to sort out the very ripe fruit. For the second wine a second pick was employed. The 2005 vintage was strict and austere being about terroir and one for our children.

Annette Schiller: 2000: The wine was a dark colored, purple beauty in the glass, and what a phenomenal nose of cassis, leather, some vanilla, pine, cedar! The tremendously concentrated, full-bodied, high-tannin wine with an underlying wild streak also had a purity which gave it balance and elegance.

2003: The nose was similar to the 2000, but a bit more on the fruity side. This full-bodied, very complex wine was softer on the tannins than the 2000. It was beautifully balanced, also very pure with a lower acidity, and in general a more gentle wine.

2005: On the first encounter the nose was very restrained, and it did not really open up during the dinner. There were subtle hints of dark berries, but the balanced, polished, yet substantial and concentrated body made the wine very pleasant. This wine certainly will benefit from some more years of aging.

My personal favorite was the 2000. In general I enjoy mature wines, and wines with a lot of tension, and this one was a prime example of that. The 2003 was my favorite match with the food. The fruitiness very well counterbalanced the meatiness of the tagliatelle dish.

Pictures: Pictures: Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Dinner at Ripple

Fourth Flight and Course

rack of lamb - parsnip, kale chips

Vintages: 1989, 1990

Picture: rack of lamb - parsnip, kale chips

Jean-Rene Matignon: The 1989 and 1990 vintages produced from the historic, smaller vineyard on the estate. The new winery was not built until 1991 so they reflect the raw quality of the fruit. The 1989 vintage experienced such nice weather that the fruit was picked with students. There were exceptional berries so it was not necessary to sort as it is recently common. The 1990 vintage showed the potential of the Pichon Baron fruit producing a fresh wine that will last forever

Annette Schiller: 1989: The nose was unique: very restrained, a cigar box mix with still sweet and fragrant fruit, which made the wine extremely interesting and seductive. On the palate the wine clearly showed its age but it still had a lovely body with lots of aromas, and a surprising freshness.

1990: Lively, full, ripe fruit, chocolate, cedar aromas on the nose. Much more vibrant than the 1989. Even a little jammy in the mouth with pronounced fruit flavors, a good structure and even still a bit youthful. This wine can still last while the 1989 will not benefit from further aging. How interesting to see the different developments in the 1989 and the 1990 with only one year difference.

I personally preferred the 1989, but the better match with the food was the 1990. The lamb was succulent and very rare. The fruitiness of the 1990 paired well with the raw game flavor.

Pictures: Pictures: Château Pichon-Longueville Baron Dinner at Ripple

Fifth Flight and Course

aged gouda - dried cherry, walnut brittle

Vintages: 2009, 2010

Picture: aged gouda - dried cherry, walnut brittle

Jean-Rene Matignon: This pair also marks the introduction of the optical sorter in 2009.

Annette Schiller: 2009: Intense aromas of cassis, licorice, dark chocolate, pepper, and spices jump out of the glass. A powerful texture combined with a fantastic balance between tannins, acidity, and fruit flavors gives the wine opulence and voluptuousness. The long-lasting finish leaves a grandiose feeling behind that this is an exceptional wine.

2010: This wine shows similar intense aromas on the nose than the 2009. It is also a full-bodied, opulent, solidly structured, dense wine, maybe even a bit bigger and bolder than the 2009. This wine also has higher tannins than the 2009 which rewards one with a velvety mouthfeel. The finish is also long-lasting and fantastic.

It will be interesting to compare these wines in 20 years from now and then to remember the taste of the 1989 and the 1990, when they were 25 years old!

My personal preference was the 2010. Both wines did well with the cheese course.

Picture: Annette Schiller, Panos Kakaviatos and Howard Cooper

See You in Bordeaux!

Thanks Panos and Jean-Rene for a wonderful evening.

Pictures: Annette Schiller and Jean-Rene Matignon talking after the Dinner about the Bordeaux Wine Tour by ombiasy later this year (2015)

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  1. Great stuff much did you pay for this exclusive Pichon Baron Dinner?

  2. Hi PK Chua: This was a by invitation only dinner organized by Panos Kakaviatos. If I remember correctly, we paid about US$100 for food and wine.