One of the monumental wines of the last century is the 1982 Pichon Lalande. Since bottling, it has flirted with perfection, and was a sprinter out of the gate, which gave rise to questions about how quickly it would begin its decline. However, at age 27, it retains all its glossy, rich, flamboyant cassis fruit, chocolaty, berry jam-like notes, and plenty of earthy, foresty flavors. This is a full-bodied, extravagantly rich Pichon Lalande seemingly devoid of acidity and tannin, but the wine is incredibly well-balanced and pure. It is an amazing effort!
Several years ago, I purchased a case of the 1982 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande from a frigid Alsatian cellar where it had lain undisturbed since release, and from these bottles, it continues to very much merit a three-digit score. One of the most flamboyant, sensual wines of the vintage, it offers up a sweet bouquet of blackcurrants and blackberries mingled with notions of orange rind, violets, licorice and pipe tobacco. Full-bodied, supple and enveloping, with melting tannins, ripe acids and a long, cedar-inflected finish, it continues to deliver magical drinking. Having drunk the 1982 six or seven times this year, however, I am forced to concede that bottles that show this level of vibrancy and flare aren't so easy to find, so now is a great time to start pulling corks in earnest. This may not prove to be the very longest-lived wine of the vintage, but its star certainly did burn bright!
Whilst I enjoyed several bona fide perfect examples of the 1982 Château Pichon Lalande in the late nineties, my most recent encounters imply that these years were its peak. Nevertheless, it remains a brilliant, benchmark wine that continues to give a great deal of pleasure. This bottle, of perfect provenance, was captivating on the nose - still youthful and jam-packed with very pure and intense black and red fruit, mixed with cedar and graphite notes that ebb away as the Merlot component takes over and delivers strawberry and undergrowth scents. The palate retains its exquisite balance thanks to its fine tannin and layers of black, graphite-infused fruit that ease you into its sumptuous finish. It is a long-term wine, so do not be surprised if it continues along its plateau for another 20 years. Why is it not 100 points in my book? Well, compared to the 1982 Latour, it does not possess that same level of precision or length. Yet the bottom line is that both wines represent fabulous, era-defining contributions to this legendary vintage, and both continue to offer profound expression of Pauillac at its peak. Tasted February 2016.
I have had this wine a half-dozen times over the last eleven months, and have rated it either 98, 99, or 100 on every occasion. It is a fully mature, sumptuous, gloriously perfumed, luxuriously rich Pauillac the likes of which are rarely encountered. The color is a dark plum/ruby with amber at the edge. Spectacular aromatics offer up cedar, smoke, jammy black and red fruits, minerals, licorice, and toast. Unctuously-textured and full-bodied, with low acidity, fabulously sweet, rich fruit, surprising definition for a wine of such lushness and intensity, this is one of the vintage's most compelling and profound efforts. It has been delicious since birth, but absolutely stupendous over the last decade. How much longer can it hold onto its magic? My guess is that it should be consumed over the next 5-7 years.
While bottles that have been traded or traveled extensively are beginning to tire, I was fortunate to buy a case of the 1982 Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande from a cold cellar in Alsace where it had remained unmoved since release. Given impeccable storage such as this, the wine remains simply remarkable and numbers one of the vintage's greatest achievements. Soaring from the glass with aromas of cassis and blackberries mingled with hints of cigar wrapper, dark chocolate, licorice and violets, it's medium to full-bodied, broad and velvety, with a sensual and enveloping core of fruit, rich but melted tannins and a long, resonant finish. Seamless and complete, I'd choose a pristine bottle of the 1982 Pichon Lalande over any of the Pauillac first growths, and I'm trying to ration my remaining half-dozen bottles without much success.