In 2012, Nicolas Glumineau got a call from Frédéric Rouzaud, CEO of Louis Roederer. Rouzaud wanted to meet, and asked him what he thought of Château Pichon Longueville Lalande, the Pauillac estate the group bought in 2006. Glumineau, who was working at Château Montrose at the time, told him that he thought the other Pichon next door—Château Pichon Baron—had been winning the race lately. His comments were followed by begrudging silence, and eventually a job offer.
This year, Pichon Longueville Lalande became the first Bordeaux château that is not a first-growth to pour the grand finale vertical at the New York Wine Experience, with six vintages: 2016 (97 points, $197), 2010 (95, $230 on release), 2005 (94, $130 on release), 2000 (95, $130 on release), 1995 (94, $75 on release) and 1982 (98, $828 current auction price). As attendees took a historical look at the estate's wines, Glumineau recounted what he had done since becoming general director to bring Pichon Lalande into its next chapter.
His first initiative was commissioning a geological map of the property, which had never been done, to "know precisely what we had under our feet," he said. Previously, the estate only replanted vines when they were damaged or dead, but Glumineau found other reasons to do so.
Many of Roederer's other properties farm biodynamically, and as talks of bringing the approach to Pichon Lalande began, Glumineau preferred to replant and start biodynamics on those new parcels of young vines, as opposed to converting existing blocks. Today, they're experimenting with nearly 50 acres out of about 225. But it's long-term work, he said, and requires patience to do things right, as well as good communication with his technical team. "Take time to convince them that they should see their job a bit differently," he said.
Shortly after Glumineau was appointed to his post, he asked the cellar master to open a vertical tasting for him, to understand the château a little better. He expected 10 to 12 vintages, but instead got every single vintage between 1970 and 2010. "Believe me, that was a good day," he said to laughter in the crowd, but the extravagant endeavor was for serious means. He realized the wines that showed best were the ones with higher proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and, moving forward, the wines and the vineyards should reflect this. The replanting program is making this a reality.
As attendees tasted through the wines, including 1995 and 2000 served from magnum, Rouzaud said he was very happy with their progression. Senior editor James Molesworth, moderating the panel, recalled that when tasting older vintages with the team on one of his visits, Glumineau had noted that some vintages were made in a Pauillac style and others in a St.-Julien style, adding at the time that the 2010 vintage's style is where he wanted to take the estate's profile. "That is the classic Pauillac," Molesworth said.
The seminar ended with the 1982, a legendary vintage. "Some vintages are inspiring, and '82 is one of them," said Glumineau. "Tasting '82 Pichon is one more reason to say I love what I do."