4th of 25, decanted an hour, perfect fill, previous notes very good to very fine - bright, deepish garnet, little development; classy bouquet with secondaries now developing, cassis, bramble, tobacco and a whiff of violet; medium full, promises more than it delivers as pinched but still long and grippy, my first bottle in 2011 was best (VF) but very primary, since when it has retreated to its shell and is just beginning to re-emerge on nose with more to come on palate. At present fine plus (18/20).
A victim of it's own success, I think - backwards and still reticent probably because it has been so well kept (the fill is up to the foil). Opens over 4 hours to show beautiful powdery black currant, cedar, violets, and with more air, pure white flowers. Very much like a younger version of the 89 with not only the aromatic profile but the silky smooth texture and perfect balance. I think Clive Coates wrote about this wine, "O joy to come!" - how I agree. Needs 5 years at least from a bottle like this.
Landmark Hotel Decanter Masterclass with Nicolas Glumineau. Sweet ripe fruits, dense and lush, completely resolved tannins and enough acidity to enjoy this wine today and a few more years to come. An interesting contrast to 1995, which was a little more angular, perfumed, black tobacco, cedar and capsicum. Graphite and mineral finish.
With the 2010 the best wine in this vertical. Nicely evolved in colour, very healthy and glowing. Fine nose with dark fruit, pencil shavings, leather, spices, earth. Wonderful texture, open, round, but with a lovely bite to it. nice acidity and spiciness - all very well integrated. Very good finish. No rush drinking this, but delicious now. 93-95
P & P, half bottle. To follow a sublime LLC 1985 (very unfair). Shows its relative youth. Reticent nose. Still slightly sharp, not yet fully integrated. But a lovely wine in the making, smooth and long. Another 5 years required.
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(Pichon Lalande) Two Pichon Lalandes in one day is never a bad thing, and the 1996 again proved to be sensual with its high Merlot content. There were great aromatics and excellent acidity on its impressive finish, but again I found this wine a point behind usual, perhaps in a closed phase.
(Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac, Bordeaux) Sadly, this is not the kind of wine I get to drink every day, but it’s a reminder of just how great the 1996 vintage was in Bordeaux. The Pichon-Lalande has an unusually high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), with the remainder made up of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Despite the lower-than-usual proportion of Merlot, it’s a classic wine from this consistently excellent Pauillac second growth. Just starting to drink beautifully now, the wine is beginning to reveal its cedary complexity of aromas. The palate is silky-smooth, with excellent concentration, complexity, and balance and a linear acidity that flows through to the fresh, fine finish. Fabulous now, but there’s no hurry to drink this up. Hot Picks
(Pichon Lalande) The 1996 Pichon Lalande was a classic, an ‘archetype’ as someone noted. Its finesse didn’t suffer from a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. Gildas of Pichon Lalande explained to us that the last ten or so vintages of Pichon have had a higher percentage of Cabernet in the final blend as the Cabernet has been more ripe than before over the last decade. Was this global warming, we inquired? The answer was a definitive no; it was rather that famed oenologist and Robert Parker favorite Alain? Reynaud pushed everyone to pick later. Nuts, minerals, pencil, cedar and cassis were all in harmony in the nose, and the palate was polished in that Pichon way. Its flavors were black, purple and delicious with nice nut and cassis overtones. I have always liked this wine from the moment it was released (94).
(Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande) Deep garnet red color; herbal nose of tobacco and white pepper; restrained but tasty palate of cassis, leather and tart plum; medium-plus finish 93+ pts. (14% Petit Verdot in '96) (This was the most open on the palate as I've ever experienced this wine, having tried several bottles in years past; I think it is finally emerging from its shut-down, heavily tannic period. Gildas is very proud of this wine, thinks it is one of their best, with the potential to go 50 years or more.)
(Chateau Pichon-Lalande Pauillac) A fine concentration of colour here, right out to the rim. A very fine nose. The fine, pure Cabernet fruit that makes this such a great vintage for the left bank is still showing a little primary character, but less so now, with more secondary elements coming through. It is still pure, though, and vigorous with some smoky, iron and cedar notes. Slightly aloof at first on the palate, showing a lot of structure through the midpalate, although it does flesh out. A touch creamy, with grip aplenty. This is very stylish, and brimming with great promise. Right now it can be appreciated for this, but it will be an immensely greater wine in ten years time.
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