The owners of Pichon Lalande are set to launch an extensive research programme aimed at making the wine more ‘precise’.

The Rouzaud family, owners of Louis Roederer, took over Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande in Pauillac last November.

Managing director Frederic Rouzaud told decanter.com at Vinexpo last week that they intend ‘to keep the same elegance but to make the wine better, more precise, to get a real return from the vineyards.’

In the long term there will be extensive soil mapping and analysis. They will also start in the vineyards immediately with new canopy management techniques. The idea is to get ‘consistency in all details,’ joint managing director Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon said.

The same exercise at Chateau de Pez in St Estephe, which Roederer bought in 1995, yielded some surprises, Rouzaud said. For example, ‘we found parcels of Merlot planted on land that was perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon.’

It is possible the same thing will be found at Pichon. ‘It’s the case all over Bordeaux. Even the first growths don’t do this sort of analysis,’ Rouzaud said.

Both men were at pains to stress the excellence of the terroir, the greatness of the wines that have been produced at Pichon, and how excited they were to take on such a project.

‘But it’s not good enough to know the wine is great – we need to know why,’ Lecaillon said. For example, he said, the majority of the vines were planted 30-35 years ago when they ‘did not have the knowledge that we have now’ about varietal suitability for certain types of soil.

Rouzaud added that – as a Champagne family – the learning process would go both ways. ‘We may bring more modern management techniques but there are many things we can learn from Bordeaux. They are experts in ploughing for example – something that has been stopped in Champagne.’

Above all, he said, ‘we want to keep the personality of Pichon. It will be a classic wine made with a modern viewpoint.’

Roederer already owns Chateau de Pez and Haut Beausejour in Saint Estèphe, Champagne Deutz, Maison Delas, Ramos Pinto Port, Domaines Ott, Roederer Estate and Scharffenberger in California.

Written by Adam Lechmere