TN: Deflowered (2001 and 2009 Le Pin)

I haven’t had a chance to write up any of my notes from the tastings in Bordeaux yet, but I simply had to try and capture these two right when I got back to my hotel. I was very honored to have the chance to speak on a panel at this conference which finished up yesterday:" onclick=";return false;

Fiona Morrison was one of the primary conference organizers, so as a thank you she and Jacques Thienpont invited many of the speakers and staff over for a casual dinner overlooking their vineyard. (We also tasted several vintages of Vieux Chateau Certan and some 09 Ridge Montebello barrel samples from Paul Draper as well.)

I am a bit speechless at the opportunity to be ‘deflowered’ with regards to Le Pin in this fashion. Many thanks to Fiona and Jacques.

  • 2009 Château Le Pin - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol (6/27/2010)
    Barrel tasting at Le Pin. Deep color. A bit dominated by the barrel right now, but with enough swirling this shows a lot of surprisingly fresh and impressive raw material. Give what I have heard about the vintage I expected something more sweet and obvious, but this was sublime and shockingly drinkable.
  • 2001 Château Le Pin - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol (6/27/2010)
    OMFG. Served at dinner at Le Pin from 3.0L. This is really not fair. Not all of the critics seem to go totally wild about this wine, but it was truly mind-bending for me. An insane, kinky nose of truffles, raspberries and chocolate. I was swirling forever. Texturally probably the greatest Merlot that I have ever tasted. It moves from soy to chocolate to cherry and frankly so much more. An endless finish. Incredibly fresh. Nothing remotely heavy or overrripe, just stunningly plush and sexy Merlot. I wasn’t writing notes; rather I was enjoying sunset over the vineyard at Le Pin with a delicious, casual dinner served by the owners. In the world of ‘context’ it just does not get any better than this. Seriously, shoot me, push me off a cliff, I want a real world Tivo so I can rewind a few hours. Such a remarkable treat.

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Great stuff! Sounds like a once in a lifetime experience.

Shouldn’t ‘deflowered’ be reserved for Lafleur instead? Deflowering a pine seems rather painful.

I’d be interested in how your panel discussion went?

The panel will review the latest trends on the internet, and assess their relevance and potential for the wine industry.

Did recent events at the Parker site come up?

Probably best as a separate post…

Fantastic note Eric. I am deeply envious.

Like Serge I doubt I’ll ever sample Le Pin, and certainly not in a setting like you experienced and so obviously enjoyed. Thx for note, any pictures?

I’m hoping Matt Harris opens one of his MANY bottles when I’m around!

Le Pin is the only wine from Bordeaux that I have never sampled that I am not likely to ever sample. I have had most of the other rarities, such as Petrus, Ausone, Lafleur. Jealous here, too. pileon

Wow and congrats, Eric, on being selected to go to such an event and rub shoulders with such folks. What a great experience that must have been. How did the talk go?

I also will probably never get to taste Le Pin but it sure is fun to be able to read about it.

Keep those posts coming.


Eric, that sounds awesome! I am definitely envious. [highfive.gif]

Last year I had the chance to try a bottle of the 2001 and thought it was a special treat, by far the best 2001 Bordeaux I’ve ever tasted. While everyone liked it, some of the others at my table weren’t as entranced. Tom Nixon wrote the dinner up on that other board:

But in case I’m not supposed to link here or for those who can’t access it, here were my notes:

To follow up Tom’s excellent notes with a few shorter, less organized thoughts of my own…

Flight #1… 1979, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1994 and 1996.

This was a fun first flight. The ’96 Le Pin was a very nice wine, youthful and balanced with an unexpected, though not unattractive, dill note. I thought it showed great promise. The ’94 was also very nice, a bit richer and more mature but with less intriguing aromatics. The ’86 was another of my favorites of this flight. It must have been very ripe when young, as some of that still shows through, and, if I were to have a criticism, it would be that it seems a bit sweet. My least favorite wine of the flight was the ’91, which was a bit tinny on the nose and acidic on the palate; that said, it wasn’t really a bad showing for a ’91, just not exciting.

Originally Posted by Steen T. Olsen
Its funny with that 1979 vintage… I´ve tasted several 1979s, and this “musty, though not corked” element has been rather prominent in several bottles of the wines I have tasted from that year…

Steen, I’ve noticed some of the same. Initially, I suspected this might be corked, but the musty cardboard aromas blew off and it became a nice wine. I managed to save some wine from each glass until after the lunch was over and then revisit them all. This had become a clean, light but reasonably elegant claret. It reminded me most of some bottles of ’79 Certan de May I have been working through lately, although the Certan de May was a wine of higher quality.

Flight #2… 1983, 1985, 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2002.

Very different wines, the ’83 and ’98 were my favorite of this flight, each a delight. The ’83 was lovely, smoky, feminine, like some starlet from a bygone age. The finish was seductive and lingering. Full of coconut and dark fruit, the ’98 was surprisingly light on its feet with a long, slightly acidic finish. The ’95 and ’99 were also nice wines, the former of darker fruit and nuts and the latter of cherry and toast. Neither were inspiring but both elegant and enjoyable. While the ’02 was probably a good wine for the vintage, it didn’t really speak to me.

The ’85 met with mixed reviews. Initially, I found a medicinal quality on the nose that bothered me (although there was good concentration and even a hint of youth on the palate). Tasting it again, after the meal, I enjoyed it much more, a soft, mocha-tinged wine, but it was not in the same league as some of the others.

Flight #3… 1982, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

This was a fantastic flight of wine. The 2000 was one of the best young wines I’ve tasted, incredibly dark fruit, beautiful back-of-palate intensity and finish, firm structure and a beautifully balanced nose. Very different than the ’00 Lafleur tasted recently, but these are my two favorite Bordeaux wines of the vintage. While I was not quite as hot as Tom on the 2005, it was a fantastic wine and among the better ’05 Bordeaux, which says a lot; to me, the 2000 was simply in a different league. The 1982 was very nice, elegant, sexy, with great back-palate presence, notes of truffle and compote, and a soft, lingering finish.

The ’89 and ’90 wines were a fun comparison. Personally, I have a slight preference for ’89 Pomerol (and Right Bank in general) among these twin vintages, but in this case the ’90 was my favorite. An intense, exotic, enveloping mass of fruit and sweetness, it managed a perfect and refreshing balance…I was dazzled. The ’89 was no slouch, either, a rich wine, more cherry in its fruit profile and less generosity on the palate.

The 2001 was a special treat for me, a wine I seemed to like better than many at my table (and at the tasting, in general). While I have grown to appreciate the 2001 vintage, one that has really been eclipsed by 2000 and now 2005, this wine is hands-down the best 2001 (red) Bordeaux I’ve tried. Pavie, Pape Clement, Ausone are all nice, but this is just a step above, with an intoxicating perfume and layered palate. I loved it…if only it weren’t the only crazily expensive ’01!

A number of people were impressed with the ’06, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. Maybe it was the company of this flight, but I found it to be a bit hot and out of balance. It might be out of sorts and need to come together, so I will reserve judgment (if I ever get the chance to try it again).

Flight #4… 1981, 1984, 1987, 1992, 1993 and 1997.

By the final flight, I was busy talking and didn’t take very comprehensive notes. Very quickly, the ’81 was mature and pleasant but marred by a note of iodine that kept me from really enjoying it. The ’84 showed a touch of cherry cough syrup (something I find in some Burgundies, even very highly regarded ones…and something I cannot stand) so was not to my liking. The ’87 was surprisingly good for the vintage, soft and smooth with red fruit. The ’92 and ’93 were both pleasant wines but a bit short, the ’92 with more cherry and the ’93 more plum; neither blew me away. To me, this was the least exciting flight (with the least span between wine styles, as well). There was a consistent Burgundian aspect to the wines, which I did enjoy, though made them seem light in following the thirds flight. It’s possible that, after three days of tasting and some ancillary dinners, my palate was fatigued.

Originally Posted by Jeff Leve
Interestingly, I spent time with Alexandre and Jacques after the tasting. They both really liked different wines. They enjoyed 86, 85 & 81. I’m happy to see you got one of the good bottles of 82…

Jeffois, it’s always interesting to hear winemakers’ perspectives, but it’s also important to remember that they are often looking at different issues than the consumer or the critic, things such as how the wine turned out given the challenges of the vintage, how the bottle showed relative to other bottles of the same wine, how the wine has developed relative to their own expectations at the time of blending, bottling, etc. I assume that Alexandre and Jacques were taking these or some other issues into consideration, as it seems highly unlikely (at least to me) they were positing that ’85, ’86, and ’81 Le Pin are superior wines to ’00, ’90 and ’82 (or ’89 or ‘01, if the ’82 was corked).

Originally Posted by Brad England
Its always interesting what makes a market. I went to an all vintage Le Pin tasting in London in 1999. One of the least exciting wine nights I can remember, in fact a lot of downright bad wine (not off bottles, simply bad wine). I’ll have to dig up and email you my notes. And provenance was excellent - wines brought and served by the winemaker. I always felt that dinner saved me a lot of money.

Brad, that’s an interesting experience. As a whole (and considering these were wines from every vintage, bad and good, not just select great bottles through history), I found the wines to be interesting and (mostly) excellent. Now, whether or not they are worth the money (to me, at least) to buy and cellar is a different question. Of course, I think both scarcity and prestige play large roles in the pricing, which isn’t really my thing. There are dozens, make that hundreds, of Bordeaux bottles I might buy at the same price or lower rather than fill my cellar with ’91 and ’02 Le Pin. So I have also saved a great deal of money not collecting Le Pin. But I did think the wines were good, overall, a few great, and the wines from poor vintages actually better than many other Bordeaux I’ve tried from the same vintages.



I’m trying to get in good with more rich chinese in LA so I can finally taste some Le Pin. They might as well start making the labels in Chinese cause that’s the only people who end up with it nowadays :smiley:

Matt’s Le Pins are the closest I will come to having one… They are only about 25 feet away from me all the time…

This is the Tom Brady version of a tasting note. Well, yeah I won the super bowl and I am married to Gisele Bundchen.

“I never used to believe your tasting notes until just a few days ago, when I was sitting in France, minding my own business, when . . . .”

“…when Gisele Bundchen walked over to my table with a 3-L bottle of 1990 Le Pin tucked under her scantily-clad arm…”

Hi guys, I just finally got back from Bordeaux last evening, although Delta managed to lose my bag with most of my notes. It looks like it has arrived in Seattle at last this AM, so hopefully I will be able to chip away at my notes over the next week. This evening remains as the insane highlight of a trip with a LOT of vinous highlights. Someone even forwarded me a nice photo from this evening which I will upload when i get a moment. The most special aspect of the 2001 Le Pin by far was the texture. Really quite hard to describe and not usually a characteristic I focus in in Bordeaux versus say Burgundy where it is so much a part of the experience. As with many of the world’s great wines, it is really hard to connect the $ to the juice other than the ruthless (in)efficiency of supply and demand. Alas, I suspect I will have these wines very few if ever else in my life, but I am sure this is one of the most special wine memories I will carry to the grave. And Fiona and Jacques are just so very charming and unassuming.

The VCC (they also own that chateau) winemaker was there as well, and it was fun to see him spar with Jacque. He is clearly more of a fan of Cab Franc and prefers vintages like 1996 and especially 2000 of VCC to 2002 which is much higher in Merlot.

The conference was very successful, and I was very happy to get my official duties out of the way at the very beginning (ours was the 2nd session). Our session on the web seemed to be very well received. Mr. Parker came up a few times, but most of the discussion was broader and in my opinion far more important trends than one aging critic who seems to thinks he is the only valid voice in wine.

Most of all, I was just ridiculously flattered to be there, and it seems like my speaking dance card is going to get more and more crowded over time when I am not balls to the wall coding (which I am about go kick back into gear on).j

Fiona was the one who used the term, and she in particular was quite happy to see that for a number of people at dinner this was their first time tasting a Le Pin. I thi k deflowering Is usually reserved for something more feminine, but the 2001 sufficed quite nicely in this case.

Here is a photo of me with Fiona and Jacques. Over my left shoulder is Alvaro Palacios who was also speaking at the conference. (And for the record is a remarkable guitar player and singer.)

Very cool, Eric. Le Pin in the decanter and everyone is still standing!


I can’t for our next STG meeting so I can hear about your trip and try a bottle of your Le Pin. [wink.gif]