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Bordeaux 2014: ‘Seriously beautiful’ Comtesse turns heads

Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande set hearts aflutter this morning with its release, one merchant calling it “brilliant, brilliant, brilliant wine.”

The Pauillac estate released at €64.8 per bottle ex-négociant, a 12.5% rise on its 2013 price. At £625 per case it is cheaper than the “majority” of its recent back vintages and has the added advantage of having a much better score (93-95 from Neal Martin) than most as well.

In what has generally been a dull party, the effect has been akin to the arrival of a stunningly beautiful woman appearing on the landing to gasps from below a la Claudia Cardinale in “Il Gattopardo”.

Merchants on Twitter were quick to respond both to the wine’s quality and what they clearly felt was a fair price.

“One of the top releases of the campaign,” trumpeted Bordeaux Index. “Seriously beautiful wine and [a] smart price.”

“A top buy released this morning,” agreed Justerini & Brooks’ head of sales, George Wilmoth.

Just as he did with neighbour Pichon Baron, Martin spoke highly of Pichon Comtesse in his notes and drew comparisons with the first growths saying that the estate was beginning to “motor” with Nicolas Glumineau at the helm. “This is an excellent wine, one within touching distance of the first growths,” he concluded.

His view was backed up by Joss Fowler of Fine & Rare who hailed it as one of his wines of the vintage.

“It’s brilliant wine, simple as that,” he told the drinks business. “That’s why we’re really behind it. Nicolas Glumineau, has put a lot of understanding into what Pichon Comtesse is all about. The 2013 was his first vintage and I think he made one of the best wines and with 2014 he had a bit more raw material.

“It’s one of my wines of the vintage and I think for the money it’s brilliant, brilliant wine. That’s a sentiment that’s unanimous throughout the trade.

“It almost feels a bit exciting this morning it’s great. What you have to have, in a vintage like this and a market like this, is a sense of excitement and Pichon Comtesse is exciting wine, no question.”

Will Hargrove at Corney & Barrow was less slightly less thrilled by the release. “I think it’s a slightly missed opportunity,” he told db, adding that while both Pichons and the, just released, Léoville Las Cases were “all lovely wines”, “if the price we’re selling at started with a five rather than a six I think it would have flown.

“I don’t think the price is unfair,” he continued, “but it’s not at the price where people will go out and buy five cases and a box of mag[num]s”.

The aforementioned Léoville Las Cases meanwhile released at €96 p/b, a 21.5% increase on its 2013 price.

Again, Hargrove said it was – in the opinion of Corney & Barrow – “almost the keeper of the vintage” and that while its £895 case price “wasn’t unreasonable” for the quality of the wine, “will it make people buy it?”

Probably not and here’s why so many merchants are enthusiastic about Pichon Comtesse in the way they were about Rauzan-Segla and Canon’s release a little while ago. Pichon Comtesse may not be an absolute bargain in the strictest sense and yes at £525 p/cs it would probably soar but as Giles Cooper at Bordeaux Index had previously told db, what turns buyers on or off a wine can be as little as £25.

Pichon Comtesse could potentially get a better score than its neighbour Pichon Baron (93-95 points to the latter’s 92-94) and the current difference in price per case? £25.

Either way, as Farr Vintners pointed out on their site, “we now wait for Montrose, Ducru and [the last of] Lafite and then we’re finished in the Médoc.” But not quite in Saint Emilion and Pomerol.

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