Chateau Pichon Comtesse 1976

Vintage 1976 was a heatwave. Paradoxically, when it becomes severely hot, the vine – and other plants – shuts down in order to preserve energy. The shutting down arrests the ripening process since ripening requires the vine to exert energy. So, while we may have alcohol ripeness, there is a deficit of greater phenolic expression. Such wines are short on the palate and lack freshness. That, though, is an overview, a generalization, and there will always be exceptions. Pichon Comtesse is one such gem. The perfume of sandalwood is pure seduction. So too the whiff of leather, aged tobacco, autumn leaves and evolved fruit. And lift. The great terroirs always recover freshness as they age. Pichon Comtesse 1976 is drinking exceptionally now and has legs to stride into 2030. 13% alcohol and a label that says 73 cl. This bottle would had been meant for the UK market which, at one time, made it an offence to state 75 cl if what is in the bottle is less than that. European Union law, on the other hand, merely require that 75 cl or 750 ml should be reached as an average. So, in order to ensure such bottles did not run afoul of British regulations, it was safer to say 73 cl to provide a 2 cl buffer.

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