Le Pin 2015, Pomerol (1 double-magnum)
Lust for life

Bonhams Magazine

Issue 57, Winter 2018

Page 41

Le Pin is regarded as the courtesan of the wine world. Lucinda Bredin is seduced.

Some Bordeaux châteaux really are castles. Château Pape Clément, for example, with its turreted tower, could withstand a medievalstyle siege. However, the sole structure for the domaine of Le Pin, one of the most celebrated Pomerols, is architecturally more low-key. Named after a single pine tree that was once the sole marker for this stony terroir, the only structure on the site is a very stylish modernist barn.

But then the owners of Le Pin have always been forward-thinking. In 1979, Jacques Thienpont, from a dynasty of winemakers and merchants based in Belgium and Bordeaux, bought a hectare of land on a hillside. The family already owned the neighboring Vieux Château Certan, but it was Jacques's uncle Léon who really encouraged the purchase. "He knew it was a good site," says Jacques, "because the woman who owned it previously was making good wine. But after she was widowed, the wine was made by a métayer and he carried all the grapes off to his cellar to mix in with other wine." The first production was extremely small – using barrels handed down from Vieux Château Certan – and each bottle cost 100 francs (about £10). But it wasn't long before Le Pin was on the radar of the wine world. By 1981, noted wine merchants Roy Richards and Mark Walford were beating a path to the estate. By 1984, the 1982 vintage was awarded 100 points by the doyen of wine-writers, Robert Parker. To give some indication of how sought after the wine is, there is a vertical of 17 vintages in double-magnums offered in November's Fine Wine Sale at Bonhams London. The magnums from the 2009, 2010 and 2015 vintages have an estimate of £12,000-15,000 each.

What is it that makes Le Pin so special? Fiona Morrison, Jacques's wife and a Master of Wine, explains. "The terroir of Pomerol is a patchwork. It is made up of Jurassic soils, mainly washed down from the glaciers, and so one of the anomalies of Pomerol is that very different wines, which are predominantly Merlot, can be produced from vineyards that are only 1km apart. So you have Pétrus, which is produced in a basin of blue clay, and Le Pin from a hillock of pink pebbles. It gives Le Pin a roasted taste that is reminiscent of coffee beans and chocolate truffles – it is that register of flavours."

The pair appropriately met during Bordeaux's En Primeur week in 1997 – Fiona says she was desperate to taste Le Pin – and they have run the operation ever since. They have made it, in the words of Richard Harvey, Bonhams' Director of Fine Wine, "one of the most remarkable wines in the world". Fiona, who has just published a book about the Great Wine Families of Europe, agrees. "It is very exuberant, a courtesan wine. But the great thing about Jacques's wine-making style is that he calms the exuberance of the courtesan, so that she becomes more interesting and more elegant. You can have a conversation with her." It's a conversation that looks set to continue.

Lucinda Bredin is Editor of Bonhams Magazine.

Sale: Fine Wine
Thursday 29 November at 10.30am
Enquiries: Richard Harvey +44 (0) 20 7468 5813

  1. Richard Harvey M.W.
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5811
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