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Pichon Lalande: 1983, 1986, 2000 & 2001

April 20, 2014

This came from a dinner at Jade Palace on 19 February 2014 hosted by Ms Angelina Teh of Bordeaux Index London, and since Angelina had promised a 2000 of the outstanding estate Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande (the full name always sounds so much better), we decided on a vertical. All bottles were popped and decanted on-site, blinded by the wait staff and tasted simultaneously over two hours.

The bottle marked with a Green dot displayed a fully evolved color and a powerful bouquet of seductive red fruits and rose petals that were quite lovely with notes of camphor and tangerine on the palate and a dash of sweet cedar that emerged later, rounded with silky smooth tannins amidst mild salty minerality, finishing with good length. Pichon Lalande blindedOver time, however, it became overwhelmed by the others in the line-up and began fading towards the end of dinner. Surely the 1983 (courtesy of Pipin), we thought.

Next up was an Orange dot that was even more evolved in color, certainly a very open and relaxed wine but definitely leaner and more reticent than the first bottle above, somewhat earthy with a mild pungency and a persistent vegetal character, not helped by the backward quality of the fruit. However, it rebounded strongly after two hours of food and aeration, becoming more tannic and firm than it had ever been. The 1986?

The  Yellow dot was vermillion in color, producing a beautiful effortless glow of red fruits although it was lowish in acidity and rather lean and mildly vegetal with subdued tannins.  It snapped together after thirty minutes and with food, the classic dry Pauillac signature appearing at the sides although, at one point, its vegetal character became quite pronounced before disappearing completely, replaced thankfully by a broadening on the palate with more succulent fruit to the fore. Was it the 2001, with its large proportion of petit verdot?

Pichon Lalande 1983-2001The final bottle was clearly the most masculine, boasting a dark inky red rich in blackberries and redcurrants supported by wonderful minerality with traces of graphite, rounded with just a trace of vegetal character though unobtrusive. It mellowed after some time, allowing one to focus on its great concentration and depth, framed by silky tannins that added a great deal of sophistication to its structure and lengthy finish. We were unanimous in declaring this the 2000, and what a great and long-lived 2000 it will turn out to be. In fact, we were all totally in agreement with what we thought we’d drunk. Well, it turned out, as usual, that we were quite off the mark. Sure, we got the 1983 and 2000 correct, but the Orange was actually a much younger wine – the 2001 – which had been thoroughly beaten by a much older 1986 (Yellow, courtesy of David, in absentia). Wow. It’s surprising that the 2001 has become so wayward and this tasting seemed to confirm my poor impression of another bottle of the same just a week before (see Feb 2014). For sure, there is a certain consistency about Pichon Lalande: its ever-present trace of vegetal notes and its ability to mellow quickly, displaying a harmonious core of tangerine and dark berries with soft edges that contribute significantly to its feminine appeal. Thanks to everyone, in particular Angelina, for a wonderful evening.

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