In Pauillac, just west of First Growth Château Latour, and across the street from Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, lies Château Pichon Longueville Baron. Affectionately known as Pichon Baron, this second growth may not measure up to its neighbor in the cellar, but it takes the cake for beauty and charm. Built in 1851, the fairytale Château towers over the landscape, its turreted face reflected in a pristine body of water at its foot. Raoul de Pichon-Longueville, who commissioned the structure, inherited the estate from his father, Joseph de Pichon-Longueville. Joseph was the last member of the Pichon family to own the entire estate which consisted of what is now Château Pichon Baron and Château Pichon Lalande.
Of Château Pichon Baron's 88 hectares, 73 are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot -- at 65% and 35% respectively. The gravelly Pauillac soil allows the vines to drink deep, and the resulting wines are deeply colored, dense, pliant and complex, with layered flavors of dark fruits, chocolate, spices and minerals and suave use of new oak. On average, 24,000 cases of the Grand Vin, Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, are produced each year, along with 12,000 cases of the second wine, Tourelles de Longueville.
Today, the French insurance company AXA owns Pichon Baron. Purchased in 1987 when the estate was on the decline, heavy investment by AXA has turned its fortunes around. Michael Cazes, of neighboring Pauillac Château Lynch Bages, proved a good pick to oversee winemaking operations during this crucial period. He has recently been succeeded by Christian Seely, who continues to do justice to Pichon Baron's longstanding reputation as a Super Second.