We woke up to dense fog which burned off by the end of our first appointment, just in time to reveal the château at Pichon Baron. The weather was beautiful and provided a very dramatic start to our second day. What a truly amazing property!
2016 is truly a tale of two vintages as we continue to learn about the unique growing conditions. The first half of the year was cool and wet—in many cases the vineyards flooded and threatened to drown the vines. By summer the weather was hot and very dry. This was not a long, easy growing season. Winemakers worried throughout the year, but were rewarded in the end. According to one wine maker, “God loves Bordeaux.” Pichon Baron had one of the latest vintages in memory according to Jean René Matignan, Pichon’s technical director. They finished picking on Oct 19th with the last of the petit verdot. But the strength for Pichon in 2016 was the Cabernet Sauvignon—85% of the blend with just 15% Merlot. “Classic Pauillac style”, says Clyde.
The most exciting visit for me was Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion. This was a first time-visit for the K&L team and it truly offers the perfect tasting experience for our customers traveling to Bordeaux. Carmes is the only estate with an address within the city limits, located just minutes from the historic downtown area. The five hectare vineyard is planted with predominantly cabernet franc.
The wines and the facility stand out from its peers. The facility was designed by Phillipe Starck, and sits twenty meters below the surface in the middle of an underground river bed (Stark designed packaging for Roederer’s bio-dynamic vintage offering we currently have on the shelf). The château itself is classic, but the wine making facility is quite modern (it looks like a huge metal submarine). Most impressive were the large egg-shaped concrete fermenters. Each year a new artist will paint one, creating an art gallery. So far two of eight have been completed—one from Phillipe’s daughter Ara Stark and another from Spanish artist Sergio Mora. It’s going to look amazing! Wonderful wines and a great visit.