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Pichon-Lalande in London and 1996 Versus '95

Posted: Sep 11, 2006 5:14pm ET

I am sitting at Zafferano, the best Italian restaurant in London, with Gildas d’Ollone, general manager of Château Pichon-Longueville-Lalande. We just finished tasting 14 vintages of Pichon-Lalande during a Farr Vintners' tasting. (Stay tuned for a report later.) There were some extraordinary wines, such as the 2003, 2000, 1989, 1986,and 1982.

But there was some debate with the 1995 and 1996. The 1996 was much more open, soft and fruity, while the 1995 was more tight and tannic. It needed time. “I thought it would have been the opposite,” said Gildas.

I have to say the same. My tasting in Bordeaux of both vintages in a little over a week should be very interesting indeed. Wait and see.

Anacleto Ludovic
paris france  —  September 11, 2006 6:32pm ET
JAMES: great thanks to always come up with great material!!! I am very please to read your comments very pro and plenty of substance.Gratefully , Ludovic AnacletoChampagne extremist (LOL)
Jeffrey Cassetta
Ada, MI —  September 11, 2006 8:20pm ET
James, the majority of '95 Medoc's that I have had recently were fiercely tannic and in serious need of more time (5+ yrs) in the cellar.You need to stop teasing us though and opine.Cheers
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  September 12, 2006 3:09am ET
Honestly the only 1995 I've had was the Montrose which was very smooth, complex and anything but tannic...it was very nice. Question James. Do you think that your tastes have changed over the 10 years since you reviewed the 95 and 96 vintages? Just curious....and thanks for the tasting notes, they are very helpful to us new to this.
Albert Jochems
The Netherlands —  September 12, 2006 3:27am ET

On Sunday we had some friends over at our place. I decided to open some Marquis de Terme Margaux. I had only one bottle 1995 left (of 6 I bought). I decanted it and left it for about an hour. While drinking, I found the tannines a little rough, while I remembered it as particulary smooth (last year was the last time I tasted it). The balance between elegance and body that I remembered was missing. The next bottle we opned was a 1998. No time to decant;-) This one I only tasted once about 3 years ago. It was very aromatic on the nose. And suprisingly soft tannines. Very nice to drink now.

After tasting this difference we had some debate about our preferences. But even more about the development of the 1995. Is it declining? One of my friends had the same Margaux 1995 quite some time ago and also had quite different memories about it. I've seen that you rated the 1995 higher than the 1998. We, drinking it now, concluded the opposite.

I have some more '95 Bordeaux (St. Julien, Pomerol, Margaux). What do you think James, will more time in the cellar improve it? Or will it just become worse?
Mark Antonio
Tokyo —  September 12, 2006 4:40am ET
Albert, that's a good question - I'd be keen to know the answer to that one too - I assume James will be answering this next week when he has some more reliable data. James - one particular gem that I have been keeping in my cellar is the '95 Figeac. I'd be keen to hear your thoughts on it's longevity?
Apj Powers
Dallas, TX —  September 12, 2006 5:32pm ET
I'm sitting here w/ several wine mags. All, of course, giving extravagant praise to the 2005s.A bit off your current thread, but, did anyone noteable miss the mark in Bordeaux 2005. For instance, several notable CAs received low marks for the 2002 vintage.
Joseph Romualdi
Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada —  September 12, 2006 7:29pm ET
James, I was watching the Sopranos last night, and it was the episode where Tony (James Gandolfini....another James) and Christopher rip off a few cases of wine from some biker dudes. The wine turned out to be a 1986 Pichon-Lalande. I think Tony's tasting note was "heaven" as his eyes rolled to the back of his head.You've got the life, Jimmy Red.
Chris Lavin
Long Beach, CA —  September 13, 2006 12:15pm ET
I find that the '96's exhibit a stronger sense of minerality and have more balance and finesse than the more rustic/tannic '95s. It would seem to me that the '96 vintage is a great vintage from the Medoc especially. From what I've tasted recently, I would say I would prefer the '96's to the '95s right now. Look forward to reading your notes.
James Suckling
 —  September 14, 2006 12:28pm ET
Joseph. Love that story about the Sopranos. We don't get it in Italy!!! The 1986 Pichon-Lalande in the tasting was a great bottle. One of the highlights of the tasting!!

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