One morning in November, I came back to Chateau Pichon Baron to re-taste some of the top wines of Bordeaux. Just under an hour drive from central Bordeaux, and we arrive at Pauillac, a small town on the left bank of the Gironde River.
Chateau Pichon Baron is located in the south of Pauillac appellation neighbouring such big names as Chateau Latour, Chateau Leoville Poyferre, Chateau Lynch Bages, and Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.
A historic estate
The history of Château Pichon Longueville Baron (aka Chateau Pichon Baron) goes back to the late 17th century when a wine merchant and the first President of the Bordeaux Parliament Pierre Desmezures de Rauzan bought several plots of vines close to the Latour estate. However, the new property took its name after his son-in-law, Baron Jacques Pichon de Longueville who received the chateau as a dowry after marrying Desmezures de Rauzan’s daughter Thérèse’.
In 1850, the property was divided between their five children. Chateau Pichon Baron as it is known today was inhertited by Baron Raoul Pichon de Longueville and his brother. The other part accross the road was given to three sisters and became Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande.
It was Baron Raul who started the construction of the castle which became the most impressive building in the Medoc.
During the Universal Exhibition of 1855, the wine of Chateau Pichon Baron was classified as the 2nd Growth, Deuxième Cru, in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, which recognized the top 60 chateaux of Bordeaux.
The estate had kept its reputation as one of the top wineries in the Bordeaux wine region. It is often referred to as one of the Medoc “super-seconds”.
The Pichon de Longueville family owned the Château Pichon Baron till 1933 when they sold it to the Bouteiller family. Since 1987 the chateau is owned by AXA Millesimes, a subsidiary of AXA, a French insurance company.
The most beautiful castle in the Medoc
The 19th-century fairytale castle of Chateau Pichon Baron was inspired by Renaissance architecture emphasizing symmetry and proportion. A reflecting pool built in front of it doubles the magnificent image.
In 1987, AXA Millésimes undertook the reconstruction of the fermenting room and cellars and renovated the chateau which currently houses the company’s offices, and beautifully restored rooms used for private tastings.
The turrets of the castle inspired Les Tourelles de Longeville, the historic second wine of Chateau Pichon Baron.
The griffons guarding the coat of arms of the Pichon de Longueville family gave the name to the third brand, Les Griffons de Pichon Baron which was first introduced in 2012.
The unique terroir
My visit starts in the vineyard. To the south of the chateau, its best plot – the “Butte de Pichon Baron” planted mostly with Cabernet Sauvignon is devoted entirely to the production of the Grand Vin, the first wine of Chateau Pichon Baron.
This historic plot was already in use in 1694. Today, many of the vines here are over 80 years old.
Cabernet Sauvignon makes up approximately 85% of the blend of the first wine, which is on the highest proportions found in Bordeaux wines, making Chateau Pichon Baron a great wine tour stop for those who love Cabs.
The terroir represents a bed of gravel with excellent drainage and good exposure next to the Gironde River.
Grapes from other plots nearby are devoted to the production of the other two brands, Les Tourelles de Longeville Chateau Pichon Baron and Les Griffons de Pichon Baron.
Tastings at Chateau Pichon Baron
Chateau Pichon Baron is open all year round for private tours and tastings. I love the atmosphere of tasting these fine wines in a castle.
Your visit can include a horizontal tasting of the estate’s three wines. Tasting wines of the same vintage is the best way to highlight the differences between the terroir of the plots, winemaking techniques, and blending. Currently, the winery offers vintage 2016 for their horizontal tasting.
Besides the horizontal tasting, the winery proposes various masterclasses and amazing vertical tastings of its first wines.
My vertical tasting included vintages 2014, 2015 and 2016 of Grand Vin, the first wine of Chateau Pichon Baron, which was an excellent way to compare the impact of Bordeaux weather conditions on development of Cabernet Sauvignon.
How to get to Chateau Pichon Baron?
The drive takes approximately one hour from the city of Bordeaux via road D-2, also known as the “route of the chateaux”.
If you want to avoid driving, select a private Medoc wine tour.
Atlas Bordeaux organizes transportation and private tastings at Chateau Pichon Baron and other top wineries of the Medoc.
Best vintages of Chateau Pichon Baron
The best vintages of Chateau Pichon Baron are 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2005, 2003, 2000, 1996, 1990, 1989 and 1961.
Recently bottled 2019 and 2020 are also expected to be excellent vintages.
The successful vintages of Chateau Pichon Baron can be aged for over 40 years.
Where to buy wines of Chateau Pichon Baron
You can buy wines of Chateau Pichon Baron at the winery after your tour and tasting. The chateau will ship wines to your home address.
You can also buy the Chateau Pichon Baron wines online through the Bordeaux wine merchant in the US, Millesima USA.
Where to dine near Chateau Pichon Baron?
There are several restaurants in the Medoc near Chateau Pichon Baron. Here are some suggestions.