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Bordeaux 2017: Haut Batailley repositions

With a 46% price increase on its 2015 release, it would appear that Haut Batailley’s new owners, the Cazes family, have chosen 2017 as the year to ‘reposition’ the estate.

Released this morning (25 April) at €42 a bottle ex-négociant (and with a brand new label to boot), the price is a substantial increase on the estate’s 2015 wine which was released at €28.8 a bottle back in 2016.

The estate has not yet released its 2016 wines because it was acquired by the Cazes family – who also own Pauillac ‘flying fifth’ Lynch-Bages – in late March last year.

Writing on Goedhuis’ blog last year, that merchant’s buying director, David Roberts MW, noted: “In all likelihood the estate will find a new pricing level and this for us may be one of the last opportunities to pick up a sensational property at, some might say, old fashioned prices. Time will tell.”

Available in London for around £495 a case, the 2017 is significantly more expensive than all back vintages dating to 2005, with only the 2005 and 2010 being above the £400 mark.

Like most other wines so far the wine lacks a number of scores from key critics but has received a solid set from the Americans James Suckling, James Molesworth and Jeb Dunnuck who have rated it 94-95, 89-92 and 92-94 respectively.

The 2015, Liv-ex points out, has a bracket of 92-94 from Neal Martin (when still at The Wine Advocate) and is available for £336 a dozen – a 32% discount to today’s release.

Although it is perhaps inevitable that the new owners would seek to invest in the estate – also a fifth growth – raise its stature and raise prices accordingly, some might question the wisdom of such a substantial increase in a vintage such as 2017 particularly as the unreleased 2016 is very likely to be more expensive again when it eventually emerges, it is after all supposed to be by far the better vintage, no?

As such, is this perhaps rather too steep an incline for an estate that has, after all, only just been taken over by new owners? Undoubtedly yes.

On the other hand, should the forthcoming scores from the likes of Martin, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Antonio Galloni, Julia Harding MW and others confirm that the estate’s new winemaking direction is taking the estate into promising new pastures then it may begin to interest those with an eye on future investment.

A neighbour to Lynch-Bages, Pichon Lalande and Latour, Haut-Batailley has always been an estate with huge potential.

With the Cazes family’s proven reputation for transforming Lynch into a must-have wine year after year and with their efforts at Ormes de Pez creating some buzz, perhaps the possibility of a similar situation developing at Haut-Batailley will encourage buyers to get on board before the ship weighs anchor.

As mentioned above, the 2017 vintage was also released with a brand new label (see picture), which focuses on the estate’s famous Tour l’Aspic – built in 1875.

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