Annual Production (Grand Vin)
The name of the second wine was inspired by a white tower located on the property that was created in 1875. The top of the tower features a statue of the Virgin Mary: ‘un aspic’ in French.
One of the higher priced wines from the Pauillac appellation, it’s tempting to compare it to its sibling, Chateau Batailley, although both exhibit very different qualities: according to Neal Martin, it offers “a certain elegance and femininity which could be contrasted to Chateau Batailley’s more rustic, masculine nature”.
The wine has won a number of awards, including stars from the Guide Hachette des Vins for three of the estate’s late-90s vintages – no doubt the result of extensive improvements by the Borie family, which saw a new vat room added and a general renovation of old buildings.
Average prices have climbed steadily in recent years, rising as much as a third between 2007 and 2014. The 1997, 1998 and 1999 vintages – award winners – have performed particularly well, although a string of good releases for 2009, 2010 and 2011, have also demonstrated investment potential. However, while Haut-Batailley’s wines have shown good ageing potential, many would agree that it’s a strong and relatively-affordable wine to be enjoyed, rather than cellared away.
Despite its position as one of the strongest estates in the Pauillac appellation, Haut-Batailley has struggled to get more prominent critics – namely Robert Parker – on side. A run of low- to mid-90s scores from James Suckling, who has plenty of praise for the label, seems to have been undermined by corresponding mid- to high-80s from Parker, who has nothing untoward to say about the wine, but rather simply seems uninspired.
Still, critics elsewhere agree that Haut-Batailley offers a good expression of the Pauillac terroir and produces a fine, enjoyable wine. Perhaps not one to sit on for long-term financial gain, but one with which to impress guests nonetheless.
Chateau Haut-Batailley is a relative newcomer on the Bordeaux scene, through its parent site from which it was separated in 1942, Chateau Batailley, is one of the oldest in Pauillac. Conflicting reports suggest the estate is named for its location, where the French defeated the retreating English army at the Battle of Castillon in 1453, or that it was named after a Bordeaux courtier who had the ingenuity to clear the land and plant vines.
In any case, ownership records date back to 1791, where the estate passed through the hands of several owners until Daniel Guestier of renowned negociants Barton & Guestier took charge in 1818. After expanding the land parcel by parcel, Guestier renovated the chateau buildings, improved viticultural techniques and forged strong business connections both at home and abroad. Come the 1855 Classification the estate was designated a Fifth Growth.
Such was the complicated nature of inheritance laws at the time, Guestier’s death led to great inter-family squabbling and the estate was sold to Parisian banker Constant Halphen, and upon his death, to brothers Marcel and Francois Borie, who swiftly split the estate to circumvent the same inevitable inheritance issues. The larger portion, including the chateau building, was given to Marcel, while the smaller portion was consolidated with 15 hectares of the neighbouring Duhart-Milon to form Chateau Haut-Batailley, and entrusted to Francois.
The estate remains under Borie family ownership today, with Francois’ grandson Francois-Xavier at the helm.