The ‘Assumption of the virgin Mary’, (‘Maria l’Assomptian’ in French) on the 15th of August is a holiday in France. Most of the shops are closed. But…. on this day I got invited to visit Château Pichon Baron. It’s a second grand cru classé.We had to be present at 9h15 in the morning. From our hotel in Bordeaux it’s a 1h30 drive. And we had to be there on time. To open the gate we got the code. Isn’t that something?
The chateau looks like a castle from a Walt Disney movie. It’s strange as you see people taking pictures of it from the outside and you can open the gate by yourself. The castle itself is from the 19th century.
Pichon Baron got his name through marriage. The daughter of the founder Therese got the house as a dowry from her father. She married Jacques de Pichon Longueville. He was the first President of the Bordeaux parliament.
At the beginning Pichon Baron and Château Pichon Lalande where part of the same estate. That changed because of the Baron Josheph de Pichon Longueville. At the age of 19 he became the managing director. On the night of his death in 1850, when he was 90 years old, he decided to divide his estate between his five children; two boys and three girls.
In 1987 the bank and insurance company AXA invested for the first time in wineries. At that year they bought Chateau Pichon Baron. Axa also buys Château Suduiraut (premier grand cru classé), Château Pibran (Pauillac), Château Petit-Village, Domaine de L’Arlot (Burgundy), Disnékő (Tokay, in Hungary), Quinto do Noval (port-wines from Portugal) and Outpost (in America).
Normally wine is brought up in stainless steel or cement fermenting rooms. But as an experiment some wine in Pichon Baron is now put in amphora’s to ferment. An amphora date’s from the period of the Greeks and later of the Romans. It’s an big jug with to handles made from terracotta. The Greek and the Roman kept oil, wine or serials in it. The winery covers 73 ha of vineyard; of which 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% petit Verdot. At the end we got four wines to taste.
But as we were very early on the estate it was lunch-time when we left.
So you ask for a good address. They gave us the name of Café-Brasserie Lavinal in Bages (Pauillac). This establishment is named, out of great respect, after the grandmother of Jean-Michel Cazes. Jean-Michel Cazes is also a big name in the wine-world. It’s a small but fine brasserie. The menu starts at € 29,-. And that’s reasonable. You get an appetizer, starter, main-course and a dessert.
The service is also good. The simple Bordeaux-wines (€ 4,- by glass) of Jean-Michel Cazes (white, rose and red) are very elegant and more than only drinkable. The food is a feast for the eye. It was for me the first time that I could taste the famous Pauillac lamb.
What more can you ask for on a holiday tan to visit a top-winery and dining in a nice brasserie.
Sadly this was the end of my vacation in Bordeaux and the department of Gironde. But as we know ‘All goods thing come to an end!’