Chateau Haut Bailly
|Listed Wines||Haut Bailly|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||10,000 cases|
|Second Wine||Le Parde de Haut-Bailly|
|Interesting Fact||Haut-Bailly is almost unique in the Pessac-Leognan appellation, in that it does not produce a white wine in addition to its red.|
The financing and internationally-minded business sense of Robert Wilmers has been a blessing to this gem of an estate. He has shown himself willing to dig deep in order to allow Haut-Bailly to realise its full potential, having funded an extensive geological survey and the purchase of crucial equipment to revolutionise the winemaking here. His investment in the partnership with Sanders and in Haut-Bailly itself has paid dividends and brought the château an enviable reputation- having earned an average critic score of 95-points over the last 5 vintages. Haut Bailly has been regularly named as a 'sleeper' or 'best value' by Robert Parker, and was name checked by (now retired) Pétrus winemaker Jean Claude Berrouet as one of his favourite Bordeaux wines, for its delicacy and finesse. Robert Wilmers sadly passed away in 2015.
This critical acclaim has led to an increase in media attention paid to Haut-Bailly and now it is gradually attaining a global following. The château was further honoured by being presented at a Hong Kong tasting as part of Robert Parker Jr.’s ‘Magical 20’ towards the end of 2011, that is a list of “estates that produce wines of ‘first growth quality’ although technically not first growths.
Consistently impressive, over the last five years in particular, Haut-Bailly is a connoisseur’s favourite, though up until recent years it was not widely known. Critic Neal Martin has described the wine as “harmonious, cohesive, focused and sophisticated” and its quality really took off after 2005. It has attained an average of 94 Parker Points making it an outstanding wine, on the brink of being extraordinary.
The 2009 vintage, which featured at Parker’s ‘Magical 20’ tasting is the highest scoring vintage in the history of Haut-Bailly’s winemaking, with Parker critiquing it thus:
“This is a tour de force in winemaking, particularly for readers seeking the quintessential example of a Bordeaux that combines compelling complexity and finesse with significant flavor authority and intensity...Given its virtually perfect balance, this brilliant Haut-Bailly should age effortlessly for 3-4 decades.” James Suckling has opined that Bordeaux 2009 “could be the greatest modern vintage ever”, and Haut-Bailly is the perfect celebration of that statement.
In 2015 and 2016 Haut-Bailly also produced stellar wines with 97+ and a barrel score of 96-98 respectively.
Haut-Bailly’s modern era begins with the stewardship of Allcide Belot des Minières, known as “king of winegrowers” among his peers and remembered for his resistance to grafting as a method of countering the phylloxera epidemic, fearing it would eventually lower the quality of the wine. He may have been vindicated- the wine became better and better through the early 20th century and in the 1940s was selling at an equal price to some First Growths. Belgian wine merchant Daniel Sanders, who first fell in love with Bordeaux following a period of convalescence after an injury sustained fighting in WWI, took control in 1955, making essential repairs to the then dilapidated estate. Today it is his great-grandaughter Veronique who continues to manage Haut-Bailly, despite it having come under the ownership of another banker, American Robert Wilmers and his French wife Elisabeth in 1998. Robert Wilmers passed away in December 2017, with his Son, Chris now managing the estate.
Chateau Haut Bailly Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Haut Bailly
A dense ruby/purple-tinged color offers up notes of forest floor, subtle wood smoke, mulberries, black cherries, cassis and a hint of lead pencil shavings. There is even a floral component lurking in the intricate aromatic profile. The wine is medium to full-bodied with wonderful intensity that builds incrementally and has a long, silky, luscious finish. There is plenty of tannin, but it is largely concealed by the wine’s beautiful fruit and ethereal complexity. Given its virtually perfect balance, this brilliant Haut-Bailly should age effortlessly for 3-4 decades. This is a tour de force in winemaking, particularly for readers seeking the quintessential example of a Bordeaux that combines compelling complexity and finesse with significant flavor authority and intensity. I suppose we could see this coming as American owner, Robert Wilmers, along with his winemaker/manager, Veronique Sanders, continue to push the envelope. Yields were extremely low in 2009, and the final blend was an intriguing concoction of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. It came in just under 14% natural alcohol, which makes it among one of the more powerful Haut-Baillys produced. However, power is not the hallmark of this wine. This terroir is known to produce relatively light wines, and by reducing yields and picking riper fruit, Wilmers and Sanders have achieved a level of concentration and intensity that is unprecedented for Haut-Bailly. That said, they have not lost any of these wines’ stunning elegance, finesse or aromatic complexity.
Deep plum/purple, Haut-Bailly's 2010 required some coaxing to appreciate its subtle notes of barbecue smoke, lead pencil shavings and creme de cassis as well as its touches of pomegranate and forest floor. The oak is pushed far into the background and the tannins are extremely silky, but the intensity of the wine is profound and the finish lingers for close to 55 seconds. This wine is ripe yet delicate, powerful yet stylish, and essentially resembles a remarkable fashion design from a house of haute couture. This wine needs a good 7-8 years of bottle age and should keep for 40-50+ years. This quintessential example of pure finesse, elegance, harmony and delicacy is combined into a wine that lingers intensely with near-perfect poise and character. Haut-Bailly's ethereal character is virtually unmatched in Bordeaux. Normally, winemaker/winemaker Veronique Sanders fashions a blend that approximates 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc. That was the exact blend of her 2009, and I doubt the 2010 deviates significantly from that.
A candidate for the -wine of the vintage,- the 2008 Haut-Bailly possesses incredible complexity. Tell-tale notes of lead pencil shavings, charcoal, damp earth, black cherries and black currants intermixed with a hint of subtle barbecue smoke are present in this classic, quintessential Graves. Medium-bodied with an emerging, precocious complexity, it is a super-pure, beautifully textured, long wine that can be drunk now or cellared for 20-25 years. Bravo!
A superb success for the vintage, the 2006 exhibits a deep ruby/purple hue as well as a poised, classic bouquet of sweet black cherries, graphite, camphor, truffles, and a subtle hint of oak. Medium-bodied with a stunningly layered texture, impressive purity, and beautiful balance, this cuvee is haute couture in a glass. Although surprisingly approachable, it won’t hit its adolescent stage for 8-10 years, and will last for 25-30 years thereafter. Bravo! It is extraordinary to see what the American proprietor, a banker from Buffalo, NY, Robert Wilmers and Veronique Sanders, the granddaughter of the former proprietor, have accomplished at Haut-Bailly. Together they are pushing this outstanding terroir to first-growth quality levels. It is an amazing success story, and readers looking for a quintessentially elegant Bordeaux need look no further than Haut-Bailly.
Haut-Bailly's American proprietor, Robert Wilmers, backed up by the brilliant Veronique Sanders, continues to go from strength to strength. A fabulous example of this estate, the 2005 is an ethereal, delicate, finesse-styled offering with intensity as well as richness. It has all the concentration one could want, but it comes across as gorgeously elegant and sublime because of its combination of delicacy, power, and depth. Beautiful raspberry, black cherry, currant, graphite, and scorched earth notes are subtle, but provocative. In the mouth, there is good acidity, medium body, ripe tannin, and terrific length. This is a beauty of haute couture from Pessac-Leognan. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2035.
The saturated ruby/purple-hued 2011 Haut-Bailly exhibits a glorious, subtle, noble set of aromatics consisting of red and black currants, sweet cherries, graphite, truffles and a faint hint of wood spice. The wine hits the palate with the profound elegance and purity that have become so much a characteristic under Wilmers and Sanders. Still youthful, with good acidity and freshness, this brilliant, medium-bodied 2011 needs another 4-5 years of bottle age, and should evolve effortlessly for 20-25 years.
Ever since the acquisition of Haut-Bailly by American banker Robert Wilmers, he and his winemaker Veronique Sanders have dramatically led this estate to the top of the qualitative pyramid.
The 2004 Haut-Bailly is a candidate for the finest wine of the appellation. Its dark ruby/purple color is accompanied by classic aromas of scorched earth, sweet black currants, cherries, and a hint of pain grille. Light on its feet, but substantially flavored, it possesses stunning purity, good acidity, ripe tannin, and abundant flavor as well as length. It builds incrementally and subtly in the mouth, but it's the real deal. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2024.
While the 2012 Haut-Bailly is not as powerful or rich as the 2009 and 2010, it is classically elegant, racy and noble. This medium-bodied effort is the poster child for elegance, finesse, balance and equilibrium. The Cantemerle of Pessac-Leognan? Its deep ruby/plum/purple color is followed by a sweet nose of black cherries, black currants, lead pencil shavings and a touch of spicy oak. This medium-bodied, pretty wine will benefit from 4-5 years of cellaring and last for two decades.The grand vin has been impressive under the administration of Veronique Sanders and her boss, Robert Wilmers, who has given her carte blanche to do whatever is necessary.
There are only 2,500 cases of the 2013 Haut-Bailly because yields were a microscopic 20 hectoliters per hectare. Made from a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc, this elegant effort boasts a dense ruby/purple color as well as a beautiful, intriguing bouquet of spring flowers, creme de cassis, plums and an underlying Graves earthiness. Layered with more texture and concentration than many of its peers, it will benefit from several years of cellaring, and should last an atypically long time of 20 years.
The harvest occurred at this beautiful estate in the heart of Pessac-Leognan between October 1-10. Production was tiny, and Veronique Sanders, the brilliant winemaker, was worried about pushing for too much extraction, so vinification was intelligently done in a gentle manner in order to extract the softest tannins possible.
A classic effort, the 2000 Haut-Bailly exhibits notes of lead pencil shavings, raspberries, black currants, and loamy soil. Subtle hints of earth and smoke are also present in this medium-bodied, stylish, well-balanced, pure wine that emphasizes restraint and graciousness over power and blockbuster intensity. It has entered its plateau of maturity, where it should remain for another fifteen years.