Tasting Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac: Vintage 2009 to 2016
Château Pédesclaux is one of the 18 fifth growths of Médoc classified in 1855, also called in French: Cinquième Grand Cru Classé.
After a tumultuous History during the 20th Century, the Château was acquired in 2009 by the current owner, Jacky Lorenzetti, who also owns Château Lilian Ladouys in Saint-Estèphe.
Since, with the help of Tehnical Director Vincent Bache-Gabrielsen, the winery has started a complete structuring of its production assets.
Around the 2017 Vinexpo wine event in June, I stopped by to Pédesclaux to meet Vincent and learn more about his work, and of course, taste a few of his wines.The Renaissance of an Estate: Vineyards & Winery
After the acquisition in 2009, the new team started restructuring the vineyards, bringing them back to life after decades of intensive viticulture. In the hard of the global recession, the winery also got unique opportunities to expand its estate and buy vineyards next to some of the most famous Châteaus in Pauillac, where some of the most qualitative terroirs are found, around Château Mouton-Rothschild, d’Armailhac, Duhart-Milon, Batailley, and Clerc-Milon to name a few.
Château Pédesclaux’s estate now counts with about 50 hectares of vineyards (120 acres) dispersed in various areas of the Pauillac appellation. Of those 50 hectares, 42 are currently in production, the rest being ‘renewed’: vines have been pulled out to be replanted with more qualitative material.
10 hectares are even grown organically, including 7 hectares using biodynamic techniques.
This latter grape variety, Petit Verdot, was introduced to the property by the new owners to increase the overall quality of the blend. PV brings important elements to the tannic structure, as well as typical and delightful floral notes. Overall, the new plantings lean toward increasing the proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon, harder to grow and ripen than Merlot, but eventually delivering higher potential to the wine.
After starting restructuring the vineyard, a new winery was built. The construction began in 2012, and the new buildings were delivered in time to host their first vintage in 2014 (probably one of the greatest vintages ever at Pédesclaux, see my notes, wine reviews, and ratings below).
The overall architecture of the new buildings is modern, but has integrated the heritage of the old estate gracefully to my eyes.
The modern winery equipment aims at respecting the integrity of the fruit that comes in. Grapes are carefully sorted by hand in immensely-long sorting tables (see in video below). The wine is exclusively handled by gravity so no pumping is ever necessary. The center of the winery even hosts an elevator-mounted 10K-liter stainless-steel tank allowing to move the wine between the different levels of the winery (grape reception at the top, fermenters at ground level, and underground barrel room) without any pump, just gentle elevator lifts!
See the Winery Design & Winemaking Equipment in Video
During fermentation, the extraction is managed gently and with great caution to respect the quality of the fruit and avoid extracting rough tannins.
Wines are aged for 14 to 16 months in French oak wine barrels from 9 different coopers for increased complexity. For the Grand Vin of Chateau Pédesclaux, 50% of the barrels are new, while the second wine Fleur de Pédesclaux is aged almost exclusively in already-used casks.
But let’s get to the important part: how all these efforts actually translate into the taste of the wines, vintage after vintage.
Tasting Notes of Château Pédesclaux from Vintage 2009 to 2016
2009 Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac
55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cab franc
Score: 91/100 Pts. Very soft tannins and complex flavor profile. Chocolate and dark cocoa, plenty of spices underline an upfront fruitiness made of fresh blackberry and raspberry jam. Pepper, well integrated oak. An elegant and complete Pauillac wine, lively and yummy.
Similar blend of grapes to 2009 vintage: 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cab franc
Score: 93/100 Pts. The cooler 2010 vintage, compared to 2009 led to a more varietal expression of Cabernet. Tensions and acidity, juicy, plenty of spiciness and amplitude. Dense, powerful yet elegant.
Find the full review and tasting notes here
2011 Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac
Higher proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon on this vintage with 65%, while 5% is Cabernet Franc and the remainder Merlot.
Score: 92/100 Pts. A powerfully intense and vibrant fruity expression to the nose, fresh ripe blackberry, it’s filled with very ripe berry aromas, but fresh ones that do not feel jammy. The notes of torrefaction and dark spices are also present and dominant yet well integrated, simply deepening and complementing the aromatic profile.
Round and oily texture, with velvety tannins, zesty acidity that underlines the fresh berry flavors, well lifted by peppery spices. A salivating and juicy, slightly green bitterness to the finish, makes it end on a savory feel. It’s balanced and rounded up by salivating dark cocoa, vanilla and rhubarb and blackberry jam. A vibrant vintage with a bright expression of the fruit character, complex and aromatically powerful.
Drink now or within 10 years for further complexity.
2012 Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac
63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot
Score: 92/100 pts. Deep aromatic profile, exuberant peppery and lifted spicy aromas, almost chile-like. It’s also dominated by charming deep and ripe dark red berry notes. Very fine velvet tannins, some edges and spicy personality. A fine and characterful vintage. Give it time to open up and complexify, this is a wine built to age in order to enjoy the immense complexity it should develop.
Cellar for 5 to 20 years.
53% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Cabernet Franc
Score: 90+/100 pts. Vibrant blueberry nose, fresh and lively to smell, cherry liqueur. The palate shines with peppery spice and fragrant fresh berry notes, a lively acidity and good tannins structure. A lively vintage to enjoy for the liveliness of its fruit characters. Very good elegance and depth.
Drink between 3 to 10 years (2020-2027).
Further notes at 2013 Château Pédesclaux Pauillac
48 % Merlot, 47 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet franc
During that vintage, the grapes greatly benefitted from a long maturation during a long dry Indian summer.
Score: 93/100 pts. There’s a lot going on to the nose, dominant black and ripe, deep berry notes, plenty of clove and lifter black pepper spices, some violet, smoked tea, a hint of earthiness. Very complex and deep to smell. Elegant, profound. Soft, dense and fine tannins. Smooth and bursts with juicy fresh and crisp juicy flavors, long and grippy finish, salivating. Convincing vintage, power and freshness combined. Very long and complex finish.
Built to age: drink between 2020 and 2035.
Further notes at 2014 Château Pédesclaux Pauillac
2015 Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac
52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% merlot, 6% Petit Verdot. First vintage to include some Petit Verdot, planted a few years prior (see explanation of the vineyard restructuring above).
Score: 92/100 pts. Dominating fruity expression to the nose, blueberry and ripe blackberry, some watermelon to it too! Dark spices, its fragrant and elegant to smell. Ample and generous mouthfeel, velvety texture with powerful bursts of spicy and smoky flavors, cooked apple, beautiful fresh blackcurrant. Granulous texture.
2016 Château Pédesclaux, Pauillac
48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc
First vintage to include the typical 5 grapes from Bordeaux.
93-95 pts. Tasted out of a barrel sample (en primeur, vintage not yet bottled at the time of tasting). Such a deep and intriguing (in the good way) nose, its powerful and utterly complex to smell at, so much going on as intense and deep berry notes, smoked tea, dark chocolate. Stunning to smell. Deep but alive and somewhat mysterious and intriguing to the nose. Round body, dense and powerful tannic structure. Bursting floral flavors, intense dark cocoa, savory spices combine with fresh berry and blackberry jam. A very promising vintage that has everything to become a great wine.
The Best Vintages of Chateau Pédesclaux
If you’ve read above carefully my reviews of all vintages since Chateau Pédesclaux was acquired by the Lorenzetti family, you would have noticed that:
- The overall quality of Pédesclaux wines is steadily increasing. Despite being one of the great vintages of Bordeaux of the past few decades, 2009 Pédesclaux does not impress relative to later vintages. The winery had just changed hands and the efforts to increase quality in the vineyards had not yet paid off. As a contrast, 2013 which was a very difficult vintage in Bordeaux performed well and is nearly as good, to my palate, as 2009. The past 3 vintages: 2014, 2015 and the upcoming 2016 are consistently good and refined. 2016 shows great signs of being one of the best vintages ever.
- If you’re after the best vintage wines from Chateau Pédesclaux, go for 2010, 2014, and soon-to-come 2016. Obviously 2010 will be the ready to be fully enjoyed the earliest. A beautiful and elegant vintage with great Cabernet varietal character. 2014 is superb, but will demand a bit of patience to allow it to reach its peak. 2016 will be a great vintage to buy en primeur or as an early release, and cellar for 10-15 years. It will probably hold well even more if you need a wine to withstand 21 years of ageing for a baby born that year.
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Learn more about the winery, history, vineyards & else, at Chateau Pedesclaux Winery Profile: