Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Let’s start with the good. The 2021 Pichon Comtesse is epic and certainly among the great wines of this vintage. Sadly, the coulure and mildew in the first year of organic farming plus dehydration at the end of the growing season took with it fully two thirds of the crop. In other words, there’s not much wine to go around. Rich and sumptuous in the glass, yet clocking in at 12.9% alcohol, the 2021 is beautifully layered and totally sensual from the very first taste. Hints of red fruit, flowers, mint, white pepper and dried savory herbs develop with a bit of coaxing. The Cabernet Sauvignon, at 88%, is very high by historical standards. Quite simply, the 2021 is a tour de force from Technical Director Nicolas Glumineau and his team. If there is one wine readers will absolutely jump on en primeur it is Pichon Comtesse. Should the bottled wine turn out as well as this sample, pricing is likely to jump materially because of the tiny production. Don’t miss it.
Anticipated maturity: 2031-2061
Jeb Dunnuck 94-96+
One of the gems in the vintage is the 2021 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, a Cabernet Sauvignon-heavy blend that includes 10% Cabernet Franc and just 2% Merlot, aging in 60% new barrel. Yields here were devastated due to mildew and poor flowering, and the final wine comes from a horrific 15 hectoliters per hectare. The final alcohol hit 13%, and it has a healthy pH of 3.69 and an IPT of 75. In addition, a fair bit of press wine was used this year. Regardless of the numbers and technical data, the wine is brilliant and offers a pure, seamless, medium to full-bodied style carrying notes of dark currants, liquid violets, graphite, and chalky minerality. Possessing ultra-fine tannins, beautiful mid-palate depth, and a great finish, it’s going to benefit from 7-8 years of bottle age and be a long-lived Pauillac. It’s another incredible success from this team.
Jane Anson 95
Concentrated, with mint leaf, black chocolate, cassis and blueberry, spice, and clear tannic hold. This is the highest level of Cabernet Sauvignon in Comtesse since 2013 when it was 100% Cabernet (and 13hl/h yield) and you feel it in the character of the fruit, and the tension through the core. A more serious Comtesse than we have got used to in recent years, without sacrificing the signature finesse and elegance. IPT 76. Tasted twice. Harvest September 22 through to October 6. First year of organic conversion, 60% of production in 1st wine, 15hl/h yield, 3.76ph. 65% new oak for ageing.
Anticipated maturity: 2028-2043
James Suckling 94-95
This is really spicy with peppercorns, cloves and Chinese spices, especially on the finish. Blackcurrants, too. Medium-bodied, firm and polished with a long, intense finish. 88% cabernet sauvignon, 10% cabernet franc and 2% merlot.
Robert Parker 94-95
This estate is one of the most dynamic in contemporary Bordeaux, so it’s no surprise that the 2021 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a terrific wine though its a very atypical blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Merlot, cropped at a derisory 15 hectoliters per hectare, hints at what a challenging year this was in the vineyards. Unwinding in the glass with aromas of wild berries, blackcurrants, iris, licorice, black truffles, cigar wrapper and sweet soil tones, it’s medium to full-bodied, layered and textural, with beautifully refined tannins, lively acids and a supple but serious profile. It will see 60% new oak and, in all likelihood, a classical elevage of fully 18 months.