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Baron vs Lalande: 2003, 1996 and others…

January 1, 2020

One of the most wonderful sights when heading up north on the D2 highway in Bordeaux must be the view from the gentle hilltop just after passing the lion’s gate of Château Leoville Las-Cases, where its vines merge seamlessly with those of Château Latour on the right, followed by the sight of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande yonder while its “sibling” Château Pichon Longueville Baron lies directly opposite across the road. To see such great estates within such close proximity to one another really sets the pulse racing. The greater wonder is the fact that the grand vin of each of these estates is still able to exert its own unique identity even though they share virtually the same microclimate. In fact, I remembered during a visit to Pichon Lalande in 2008 that a small plot of vines within the estate right in front of its office actually belonged to neighbouring Latour! An intriguing theme, therefore, would be a comparison of these estates side-by-side vintage-for-vintage, and we hit upon Baron versus Lalande across the road at a dinner of the Jürade de Saint-Emilion du Singapour on 31 October 2019 held at the private dining of Karl and Eugenia at Kheam Hock. In spite of advanced planning, though, it turned out when the line-up unfolded that evening that we had only two vintages – 1996 and 2003 – that fit the plan, for a proposed pairing of 2000 failed to materialise when a Leoville Barton (!) was brought instead of a Baron. And, incredibly, there was another Barton on the table as well. Nevertheless, in spite of having been blinded, it was almost always possible to correctly identify a Baron from a Lalande, the former more masculine, structured and denser while the latter was consistently softer with a vegetal touch from its petit verdot. My thanks to everyone for their generosity.

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2007 Champagne Henriot Millesime, poured from magnum. Gentle notes of cream, icing and green melons. Good crisp fullness with traces of dry toast at the sides. Dry with fine acidity and tension, finishing with a faint white floral bloom.

2006 Le Sillage de Malartic (courtesy of Stephen). Tasted blind. Light greenish hue. Deep bouquet of diesel petroleum. Distinctly lighter on the palate with a deep streak of white fruits, showing good density of fruit with some minerally glow. Excellent freshness. Exuded more floral bloom on the nose after some time, developing a brighter minerally tone at the same time. Excellent.

2004 Vintage Tunina (courtesy of Stephen). Light greenish hue, proffering tangerines and citrus on the nose with fair complexity on the palate, slightly forward in characters of aged nectarine and incense. Highly aromatic with a sappy quality, layered with fine depth. Finished with a touch of sternness. Very fine.

2015 Domaine de L’Arlot Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Clos de L’Arlot, courtesy of Russ. Quite full. Exudes a perfumed floral fragrance, distinctively feminine, textured with lovely depth. Very fine presence and elegance, displaying excellent depth and transparency with a faint minerally glow amidst overtones of tropical fruit, becoming more minerally over time.

2008 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Deep purple core. Lovely floral bloom and fragrance tinted with a hint of soy, snuff and haw on the nose. Excellent presence, intensity of fruit and linearity, finishing well with a touch of green. Still quite primal.

1997 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, courtesy of Marc. More evolved but still dark. Quite effusive and open on the nose, featuring capsicum with some dark cherries. Surprisingly full and open with lovely suppleness. Distinctly feminine and fleshy with a certain deftness, developing further notes of soy with overtones of green pepper, finishing with lasting intensity and persistent afterglow. Quite superb!

2003 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. Deep garnet core, exuding a gentle deep perfumed fragrance. Supple with taut acidity and intensity though open enough to reveal excellent depth. Quite sensuous, finishing with a vegetal trace from the petit verdot that is the hallmark of this estate.

2003 Pichon Longueville Baron. Deep crimson, glowing with deep dark plums. Open with lovely suppleness and intensity, amply endowed with ripe raspberries amid discernible traces of varnish and enamel that added to its sweet lengthy finish. Still highly youthful.

1996 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, courtesy of Kieron. Poured from magnum. Deep crimson, proffering a classic Pauillac nose of tobacco and snuff. Good density on the palate with a dryish quality, imbued with red plums, gentle dark currants, cherries and capsicum. Very rounded and wonderfully supple with very well-integarted acidity, finishing with a bit of earthiness. Delicious.

1996 Pichon Longueville Baron. Deep crimson, slightly evolved. Distinctly dryish with a predominance of snuff on both nose and palate. Medium-bodied. Rather fleshy, generously imbued with fruit that is considerably darker in tone and more structured than Lalande of the same vintage, underscored by a deeper vein of currants.

2000 Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, courtesy of Sandy. Bright crimson. Seductive feminine bouquet with some capsicum, slightly spicy. Open and supple, displaying excellent fruit quality with faint overtones of snuff tinged with a dash of Pauillac dryness, dressed in velvety tannins. Still youthful.

2000 Ch Leoville Barton, courtesy of Melvin. Deep crimson. Closed on the nose though the palate is generously proportioned with mulberries, violets and wild berries framed within a velvety tannin structure. Still not quite ready.

2003 Ch Leoville Barton, courtesy of Baron. Dark, dense and tight. Reluctant. Not ready.

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