Margaux has the largest concentration of châteaux classified in 1855 in the entire Médoc region of Bordeaux, with 21 classed growths in total (1 First Growth which is obviously Chateau Margaux, 5 Second Growths, 10 Third Growths, 4 Fourth Growths, 2 Fifth Growths).
Château Prieuré-Lichine, the Property & Winery
Château Prieuré-Lichine is one of ten Quatrièmes Crus Classés (Fourth Growths) in total listed in the historic Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. The property in based on the commune of Cantenac, just South of the Margaux village.
Originally a priory of Benedictine monks who cultivated grapes for service at dinner and at religious ceremonies. The Chateau was formerly called Le Prieuré or Prieuré-Cantenac.
When writer and famous Bordeaux négociant Alexis Lichine bought the property in 1951 (not long after having purchased the other Margaux estate of Château Lascombes), he added his name to the estate forming what is known today as Château Prieuré-Lichine.
Since this acquisition in 1999 by the Groupe Ballande, also a négociant of the Place de Bordeaux, many technical improvements have been adopted both in the vineyard in at the winery. The winery is now working with 34 concrete vats from 80 to 120 hectoliters allowing to improve the plot selection and to vinify (ferment) the different vineyards separately. They also allow the vatting of grapes simply by gravity rather than using pumps that can be damaging for the grape skins, impacting the finesse of the wines.
After many years under the influence of star winemaking consultant Michel Rolland (between 1989 and 1999 while the estate was run by Alexi’s son Sacha), Château Prieuré-Lichine now employs the skills of Stéphane Derenoncourt as the estate’s external winemaking consultant.
Many of the best vintages of Château Prieuré-Lichine were produced during the Ballande ownership era such as 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005 and 2000.
Château Prieuré-Lichine, Soils & Vineyards
The soils of Château Prieuré-Lichine are essentially made up of gravel deposited by the Garonne river during successive glacial floods in the Quaternary era. Streams resulting from the floods then cut up these sedimentary soils into well drained mounds, which today look out over the Gironde estuary. Château Prieuré-Lichine also features a geological past and soils that are representative of the Margaux appellation.
The 77.5-hectare vineyard of Château Prieuré-Lichine (nearly 200 acres) is planted to:
- 50% Cabernet-Sauvignon
- 45% Merlot
- 5 % Petit Verdot
It is to be noted that Château Prieuré-Lichine counts with a relatively high proportion of Merlot for the Margaux appellation, optimizing the production off its soils that have more clay and less deep gravel, and are better suited to the balance of this varietal. Cabernet Sauvignon which performs best on well-drained and deep gravelly soils.
The Petit Verdot is planted on a mound of deep gravel and brings its own personal touch to the final blend, further floral character and a distinctive density and grip to the tannic structure.
Wine Reviews of Château Prieuré-Lichine Wines
2016 Château Prieuré-Lichine
Score : 91+/100 Points
This is the first wine by the winery, also the one that is considered a classified growth wine.
About the 2016 Vintage in Bordeaux
2015-2016 was the warmest on record in France since 1900 resulting in a budbreak at the end of March, around one week earlier than average. This was followed by a very wet but mild spring, with a rainfall about 60% higher than normal for the period which had the vignerons worried, but the flowering went ok. What saved the 2016 vintage was the very dry and warm summer that followed, one of the driest on record, allowing the grapes to perfectly mature and allowing growers to pick exactly when they wanted late in September and into October. This resulted in the 2016 vintage in Margaux and the Bordeaux area in general to be considered an excellent vintage.
Overall Tasting Notes & Impressions
A Margaux wine featuring a very dense and impressively dark red color, nearly black to the core with the distinctive dark purple hues characteristic of a young wine.
This is a fruit-driven wine, bursting with fresh and crisp aromas of red berries: acidic raspberry, blackberry and dark cherry. The influence of the Merlot with its typical dark cherry and caramel sweet and coating notes are obvious and pleasing.
Beyond the fruit character, the influence of the ageing in 50% new oak barrels is well integrated, adding depth and complexity with aromas of delicate French vanilla, toasted hazelnut and a touch of smokiness.
This is a very smooth but also powerful wine, dry as we expect from Bordeaux. It has the typical grip from the Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Merlot has provided fine and soft coating tannins. The few percent of Petit Verdot in the blend probably added the granulous, big and edgy tannins that are perceptible here as well.
Huge diversity of complex oaky and sweet spices to the finish.
This baby of a wine will become truly an excellent wine in 10 years and should age very well for 15-20 years (drink 2028-2038).
Retail Price in the USA $50-$60 dollars
Watch 2016 Château Prieuré-Lichine Wine Review in Video
2016 Confidences de Chateau Prieuré-Lichine
Confidences is the second wine of the estate.
In 1972, the property’s then owner Alexis Lichine made the estate’s first-ever second wine under its original label ‘Château de Clairefont’.
This Margaux wines is made using the same harvesting and winemaking methods as the Grand Vin (the classified growth) but from younger vines. The blend counts with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot aged in used French oak barrels (40% second-fill and 60% third-fill).
Score: 90/100 Points
Overall Tasting Notes & Impressions
A Margaux wine featuring all the finesse we love from the appellation.
It does appear dark and intense in its wine color, nearly black to the core with a bright red filled with purple hues to the rim.
The nose is subtle and mainly fruity: fresh raspberry, fresh strawberry and blackberry. A distinctive peppermint spiciness comes through, while discrete and elegant hints of oaky vanilla and hazelnut add depth to the aromatic profile.
This is a rather textural and very smooth red even with its young age. Dry, it is rounded up by an oily texture but more importantly by soft velvety tannins. A pleasant silky feel overall, despite hints of green bell pepper and herbal flavors, like bitters to the finish.
A pleasing Margaux wine filled with the elegance we love to enjoy from the appellation. A bright fruity expression combines with solid body and distinctively smooth texture. Spices and a discrete amount of well-integrated oak have added depth and complexity to the tasting experience.
A well-executed second label of a Grand Cru Classé in an excellent vintage around all of the Bordeaux region. Those are always good buys…
Retail Price in the USA $35-$40 dollars
Château Prieuré-Lichine also produces a white wine called ‘Le Blanc de Château Prieuré-Lichine’ made from 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Sémillon under the Bordeaux Blanc AOC appellation.
The estate’s third label comes as ‘Le Clocher du Prieuré’.