This Pauillac second growth has plenty of admirers, but it also has equally illustrious neighbours...
AOC Pauillac, opposite Château Pichon Baron, and next to Château Latour.
85 hectares, producing 30,000 cases of the grand vin and 6,000 cases of second wine Réserve de la Comtesse.
Plantation and vineyard work
Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Merlot (35%), Cabernet Franc (12%) and Petit Verdot (8%), planted at 9,000 vines per hectare. This is a fairly low proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon for such a prominent Pauillac estate, and explains why it has a reputation for such feminine, elegant wines.
Average age of the vines are 35 years. A replanting programme has been underway since Roederer took over however, and they hope to end up 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.
In the vat cellars there are 33 temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks which have both heating and cooling systems. Blending is carried out in late December to early January. The wines spend 18-22 months in oak barrels, with around 50% of new oak each year. Around 25% new oak is used for the second wine.
Garonne gravel on clay, containing an iron-rich layer of subsoil. The plots circle the château and lead down to the river alongside Latour.
At first, the history here exactly mirrors its neighbour Pichon Baron, as they were one and the same estate. A document in the archives refers to ’40 very gravelly plots’ that were used to first plant the estate by Pierre de Rauzan.
His daughter Therese married into the Baron de Pichon-Longueville family, and the Pauillac estates became known under the family name of her new husband (hence why in Margaux the name Rauzan continues, whereas in Pauillac they are Pichon Longueville). It was to remain in the hands of this family for 250 years.
As befits its name, Pichon Comtesse had its history mapped out by three influential women – first Therese de Rauzan, then Germaine de Lajus and Marie Branda de Terrfort – who looked after the estate up to the French Revolution (another influential woman came along in the 20th century in the form of Dame May Eliane de Lencquesaing).
As we know from Pichon Baron, from around 1850 the estate was divided between his sons (Pichon Baron) and his daughters (Pichon Comtesse). They have remained separate ever since.
In 1920, Pichon Comtesse was sold through auction to the Miailhe brothers Edouard and Louis, and it was Edouard’s daughter May-Eliane who was to become the defining owner of the property in the 20th century. In 2007, as she looked to retire and knew that none of her children wanted to take over, she sold her château to the Louis Roederer Champagne house.