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THE TOP 100 COLLECTIBLE WINES

#17 - 2012 Chateau Le Pin Bordeaux

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Chateau Le Pin's highly selective harvesting process means as few as 500 bottles make it out to wine collectors every year, making the estate's wines as some of the rarest in the world. Like the best Pomerol wines, this estate focuses nearly entirely on its Merlot grapes, occasionally cutting the blend with Cabernet Franc. With humble beginnings as a one-hectare estate producing wines out of a tiny basement in a farmhouse, owner Jacques Thienpont has slowly built his reputation as a premium winemaker. Today, the estate envelops 2.7 hectares of land, and still houses the single pine tree growing near the winery from which it takes its name.

For the 2012, the estate chose only the best Merlot grapes from its vines, foregoing Cabernet Franc entirely. It is not unusual for Chateau Le Pin to change its harvesting practices based on the weather. In 2003, the heat wave was so strong in Bordeaux that Thienpont refused to release a single bottle of wine that year, fearing the result would fall short of the Chateau's standards.

In 2012, estates across Bordeaux were forced to pick their harvests later than usual, due to a wet spring and intensely hot summer. In Pomerol, Chateau Le Pin was harvesting its Merlot grapes around the same time as estates in the Left Bank. The conditions were perfect for the estate's Merlot, however, resulting in a full-bodied, silky 2012 vintage.