Terroirs of Pauillac: Power, Precision, Prestige

Retail Team | September 6, 2023

No other appellation in Bordeaux can rival Pauillac for pure star power. These famous nine square miles on the Left Bank of the Gironde are home to three of the five First Growth estates and many of the most prominent Super Seconds and Flying Fifths.

Here, Cabernet is king, and the commune’s loose gravelly soils help sculpt a classical expression of the grape that many consider claret’s ideal: muscular tannins, velvety, rich texture, aromatic flourishes of cedar and cassis, aristocratic elegance.

Today we’re thrilled to feature a selection of top vintages from two Pauillac powerhouses – Château Pontet-Canet and Château Lynch-Bages. In recent years, both estates have achieved new heights of quality, releasing wines that can challenge many of the best houses throughout Bordeaux.

While Château Pontet-Canet can trace its roots back to the 1700s, the house’s modern history begins with its acquisition by the Tesseron family. Since taking the helm in the early 1990s, Alfred Tesseron has pioneered biodynamic techniques that have revolutionized the terroir, which adjoins the vineyards of Château Mouton Rothschild. The farming is about as manual as you can find in Bordeaux, from plowing by horse to a vinification regime that uses no electricity.

The 2017 vintage marked the introduction of a new sorting table and shows beautifully refined polish. The 2018, called “a freak of nature” by Vinous’s Antonio Galloni, was culled from an extremely low-yield vintage and vinified in small concrete vats. Showing off-the-charts intensity and transcendent expressiveness, our rare magnum bottling of this Pontet-Canet vintage is a highly sought-after collectible. The brooding 2020 wowed critics across the board with seamless, seductive tannins and a deft touch of minerality.

Like Pontet-Canet, the legacy of Château Lynch-Bages has primarily been shaped by one family: the Cazes clan. Jean-Charles Cazes bought the estate in 1939; following generations, led by Jean-Michel and Jean-Charles, have raised the 247-acre property to its fullest potential. The focus in recent years has been on precision winemaking, as the winemaking team seeks to reflect the nuances of Lynch-Bages 250 different parcels.

The 2017 is a study in opulence, showcasing flamboyant, plush aromas of purple fruit and chocolate and resolving on the palate to a silky, tour-de-force finish. For a blockbuster bottling look to the 100-point 2019: tantalizing aromas of lead pencil, cassis, and blackcurrant set up the palate for a stunning wave of richness and purity, underscored by impressive grip.

These bottles, each disclosing the distinctive character of the respective houses and vintages, capture the contemporary soul of Pauillac.