Bordeaux profile: Château Haut Bailly
In the third of a series exploring the history, market performance and most recent vintages of some of Bordeaux’s leading estates, Colin Hay uses the opportunity afforded by a rare vertical tasting at the château to look at the striking progression of the Pessac-Léognan classed growth Château Haut Bailly over the past two decades.
Terroir, history and context
Like many of the truly great wines of Bordeaux, Haut Bailly is an ancient estate based on an exceptional and unique terroir. Records show vines already planted on the gravel heights of ‘Pujau’ (as it was then called) as early as 1461. And, somewhat unusually for Bordeaux, the estate came into being in something resembling its present configuration and size (around 33 hectares) as early as the 1630s, following an expansion and consolidation of the vineyard by Firmin de Bailly (after whom it is named) and Nicolas de Leuvarde.
By the late 19th century Haut Bailly’s renown and reputation had grown to such a point that its wines sold for the same price as the first growths of the Médoc. That this was true owed much to the influence of the celebrated Roi des vignerons (‘king of winegrowers’), Alcide Bellot des Minières who had acquired the property in 1872. One of his most important legacies, enduring to this day, is the four hectares of vines which he planted close to the château and at one of the highest elevations in the appellation with all six permitted varieties. Now 100-120 years old, these are among the oldest vines in Bordeaux and they still form the basis of the first wine.
Even then this combination of exceptional terroir and skilled planting helped Haut Bailly garner a most enviable reputation (Denis Dubourdieu’s survey of the entire vineyard in the early 2000s revealed a near very optimal matching of varietals to their terroirs). Indeed, Henry Guillier’s graphical depiction of les grands vins de la Gironde, which dates from the early 20th century, places Yquem at the centre of its five-pointed star, with the four original grands crus of the 1855 classification and Ausone between each of the five points – and Mouton-Rothschild and Haut Bailly at their side. The implication was clear: Haut Bailly belonged in such illustrious (and classified) company (though there was of course no official classification of the wines of the Graves at the time).
But sadly, as is also so often the case for the leading crus of our age, by the time the ink was dry on Guillier’s illustration of Girondain vinicultural nobility, Haut Bailly was already in steep decline. It was not until the 1950s, more precisely 1955 with its acquisition by Veronique Sanders’ great-grandfather Daniel, that the descent would be halted, the corner turned. His was by that time a much-needed and long-overdue project of renovation – in the vineyard and of the cellar. It was also he who introduced an increasingly strict selection for the grand vin itself.
The next episode in Haut Bailly’s return to glory came in 1998, with the acquisition of the property from the Sanders family by the noted US banker, reformer and philanthropist, Robert G. Wilmers. A combination of generous financial investment plus a subtle, gentle and enthusiastic promotion of Haut Bailly (and Bordeaux more generally) through the 20 years of his ownership have contributed to a steep uplift in the estate’s ambitions, to its rejuvenation and, in the past decade, to the re-securing of its historic place at the pinnacle of the appellation and amongst the top handful of wines of the region.
By the time of his passing in 2017, Haut Bailly was already back where the quality of its terroir gave it the natural endowment to be. Under the chairmanship of his son, Chris Wilmers, Professor of Ecology at the University of California Santa Cruz and the wise, experienced and accomplished directorship of Veronique Sanders, Haut Bailly enters the 2020s in the best possible health.
Haut Bailly’s market profile
Before turning in more detail to the wines themselves, it is perhaps first interesting to examine Haut Bailly’s place in the market today. Here, as for my earlier profiles of Brane-Cantenac and Beychevelle, I am fortunate enough to be able to draw upon figures and data provided for me by Nicola Graham and the team at Liv-ex – the global marketplace for the wine trade.
If we look first at Liv-ex’s Haut Bailly index, which traces the price movements of the last ten physical vintages of the wine, we see that it tracks very closely the performance of its parental indices, the Bordeaux 500 and, more closely still, the Left Bank 200.
On the face of it, there is nothing especially remarkable about this, except when it is considered that very few if any wines of the appellation have tracked so closely either of these indices. And what that in turn suggests is that Haut Bailly behaves on the secondary market – and, above all, is treated by secondary market actors – more like a Médoc classed growth than a Graves grand cru classé.
But this plot in fat hides as much as it reveals. For if we zoom in more closely on the period since 2014, as in the following graph which represents the same data rebased at 100 in June 2014, some interesting details (largely hidden in the previous plot) become more visible.
For what becomes clear here is that between 2014 and late 2019, before the downturn in the global fine wine market, the Haut Bailly index consistently out-formed it parental indices. This, too, is hardly a revelation; but it is very important in any assessment of Haut-Bailly’s current market position.
For it suggests that it is only really over this quite recent period of time that Haut Bailly has moved into the realm of investment wines, after a striking uplift in its critical acclaim, bolstered above all by the its 100 point-scoring 2009. Indeed, from 2009 onwards, Haut Bailly has often been referred to as Pessac-Léognan’s ‘super second’. This graph suggests that, from around 2014, its market profile started behaving like one.
Such an impression is reinforced if we look at the following plot, which compares Haut Bailly’s critical acclaim against that of what would seem to be the most relevant peer group, the second growths of the Médoc.
What it demonstrates very clearly it that until 2004 Haut Bailly’s critical acclaim placed it consistently below the average for the Médoc second growths, whereas from 2004 onwards it has consistently outscored its second growths peers.
That is already impressive. But what is more impressive still is that, as the following graph shows just as clearly, it has remained remarkably affordable when compared to those very same peers.
Here we see Haut Bailly’s current market price for each consecutive vintage from 2000 to 2018 compared with the minimum, the maximum and the average (or mean) of the Médoc second classed growths (here in sterling for a case of 12 bottles in bond). What the data show is that, despite the marked uptick in Haut Bailly’s critical acclaim from 2004 onwards, such that it now consistently outscores the average of the second growths (often now matching the best scoring of the second growths), its market price has remained below the average of the second growths. The sole vintage for which this is not the case is the 100 point-scoring 2009.
Given this, the following graph is also hardly surprising. But it is rather interesting. It shows the percentage increase in price since release of a number of great vintages from 2000 to 2016 for Haut Bailly and some of the leading second growths of St Julien.
Haut Bailly is clearly the best-performing of these wines on the secondary market – and by some distance. In four of the six vintages considered (2000, 2005, 2009 and 2015) its secondary market performance exceeds all of these second growths – and by a significant margin. For the other two vintages (2010 and 2016), it delivers a better market return than either Las Cases or Ducru.
But it is not just in the great vintages that Haut Bailly shines on the secondary market as the following plot shows.
This compares the change in secondary market price since release for Haut Bailly and the Médoc second growth average for every vintage between 2000 and 2018. In each and every year, with the sole exception of 2011 (and then only by a whisker), Haut Bailly outperforms the second growth average.
As this suggests, judging by its market performance, its new found status as an investment-grade wine is richly deserved.
Finally, it is worth looking closely at two fascinating plots which come from Liv-ex data.
The first shows current market prices for recent vintages of Haut Bailly plotted against Robert Parker and Neal Martin’s scores. It suggests, in particular, that the 2019, 2012, 2008, and 2006 (all, incidentally, vintages that performed very well in the vertical tasting below) are currently under-valued relative to their critical appreciation. The 2016 and 2010 also look to me to be under-valued – an impression only reinforced by my sense (before and after the tasting) that the scores awarded to them by Martin and Parker respectively are at least a little conservative (see my tasting notes below).
The second plot, the product of a rather more sophisticated statistical analysis that explores the relationship (or correlation) between price and score, merely confirms the point. All those vintages below the fitted curve are revealed as good value relative to their (RP/NM) score.
When it is considered that Haut Bailly is one of those rare wines where the uplift in prices has yet to catch up with the uplift in quality (the effect of which would be, over time, to move the regression curve upwards on the plot), these all look like very good value indeed.
In short, Haut Bailly, as my tasting notes below confirm, is a property now making some of the best wines that it has ever made; but it is also a property whose wines remain remarkably affordable given the quality of its terroir and the skill and elegance with which it is now consistently expressed.
Château Haut Bailly vertical tasting
The vertical tasting – an Hommage to Bob Wilmers – took place at the property on the 3 July 2020. All of the wines presented were provided by the property itself. The wines were opened together and tasted from bottle, one by one, from the oldest to the youngest. The tasting comprised 20 consecutive vintages of Haut Bailly (1998-2017), each vintage produced during Bob Wilmers’ ownership. The 2018 and 2019 were tasted later on the same day. I am immensely grateful to Veronique Sanders, Gabriel Vialard and the entire Haut Bailly team for their welcome, their hospitality and their kindness.
Haut Baily 1998 (59% Cabernet Sauvignon; 41% Merlot). Brick rimmed and with a lovely limpidity. Gloriously floral, lifted, soft and caressing. Clearly from a sunny vintage. Tea leaves, dried flowers, frangipane and more classic graphite notes; hints of incense and a rich, dark berry fruit. With a little more air, a touch of truffle and a hint of game – lièvre a la royale! Refined with a little ripple of slightly drying tannin on the finish. Elegant and aerial.
Haut Bailly 1999 (65% Cabernet Sauvignon; 25% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Franc). Floral, again, but more fresh than the 1998 – and the flowers are darker and also more dried – pot pourri, dried violets. Earthy/loamy with cedar on aeration. Super-svelte but just starting to show its age, with a dryness to the tannins especially on the finish. Harmonious and long on the palate but lacking mid-palate concentration in comparison with both more recent vintages and, indeed, the 1998 and 2000. But an elegant, intensely floral wine with lovely notes of truffle and wild mushroom. Quite autumnal, but now in its autumn years.
Haut Baily 2000 (50% Cabernet Sauvignon; 50% Merlot). Much deeper and more concentrated in the glass. Brick-rimmed and visually more evolved than the 2001. Limpid. Clearly a richer vintage. Very beautiful, elegant and gracious mineral-infused nose. Very harmonious and refined. Plums, with a touch of all spice and cinnamon, but with a lovely presence of graphite and cedar. This blossoms on the palate from its soft and gentle, almost slightly timid, entry, accentuating the sense of both grace and amplitude. Cashmere tannins. It is as if the fruit darkens in hue as the wine opens in the mouth. Truffles, incense and wood smoke accompanying wild strawberries and brambles. This is very fine with a lovely sense of balance and poise. Quietly understated. Lovely floral notes once again – violets and a hint of lavender. Very complete.
Haut Bailly 2001 (65% Cabernet Sauvignon; 35% Merlot). Darker, deeper and seemingly just a shade less evolved than the 2000 (though appearances are a little deceptive here). The fruit is a shade darker and this is deeper on the nose too. More graphite, though less cedar. A lovely racy minerality and pronounced lavender notes, though not the violets of the 2000 (it’s very interesting to taste them side-by-side). Mint leaf/menthol. The contrast with the 2000 continues – this is bigger on the attack, but with much less of a sense of amplitude in the mouth; it starts wider and tapers very slowly towards a long, elegant and slightly smoky finish. Baked plums and Chinese five spice. The tannins are just starting to dry out a little on the finish. Will need drinking relatively soon, but really very lovely. Another 2001 that is close in quality to the 2000.
Haut Bailly 2002 (62% Cabernet Sauvignon; 35% Merlot; 3% Cabernet Franc). One of the most interesting wines of the tasting. Brick rimmed, nice sheen on swirling. This has a soft, very cedar-tinged nose with dark forest fruits and a lovely seam of graphite minerality – like the dark vein of lead in the pencil. Indeed, the minerality of this wine is almost structural and I really like that. Intensely floral on the palate and everything is nicely wrapped in cedar. Very soft and gentle and, of course, lacking the intensity and concentration of grander vintages. But this is strikingly vibrant and it would be difficult to pick this blind as a 2002. Leafy, delicate and with a lovely sensation of dried petals. Restrained elegance.
Haut Bailly 2003 (56% Cabernet Sauvignon; 38% Merlot; 6% Cabernet Franc). Very evolved, with a pronounced brick rim; quite light and translucent at the core. Shy at first – and needs quite a lot of aeration to get things going. Dried flowers, autumnal notes of sous-bois, violets. Pleasingly floral if rather dry. Impeccably together on the palate – if, of course, a little dry and drying. This is more harmonious than many wines of this vintage in the appellation and there is even a sense of sappy juiciness and freshness. Very much at the top of the palate and clearly already in its decline, this is very much of its vintage and it’s not difficult to pick this as 2003. But it is also much more enjoyable than most wines of this intensely challenging millesime.
Haut Bailly 2004 (50% Cabernet Sauvignon; 45% Merlot; 5% Cabernet Franc). Tasted twice in the last month – with slightly divergent notes. Limpid and quite viscous in the glass. A slight pink edge to the brick of the rim. Garnet core. Much younger on the nose than the 2003 and with a deal more freshness. The slightly ferrous minerality is at first very evident. In the first tasting, the fruit was a little muted; but not at all from the second bottle. Damsons and cherries, with almonds, frangipane and patisserie notes. This is very floral, with pressed and dried rose petals and pot pourri – we could almost be in Margaux. Very complex, too, with Kalamata olives, star anise, vanilla, wood smoke and truffles alongside the signature graphite and sous bois. But this is also nicely integrated, very harmonious and very complete. Nice granular tannins too. Not especially big, but quiet restraint and gentle elegance. Quite an intellectual wine that rewards reflection.
Haut Bailly 2005 (58% Cabernet Sauvignon; 36% Merlot; 6% Cabernet Franc). A great wine. So beautiful in the glass, with a most enticing glossy sheen and considerable viscous limpidity. This radiates cedar and graphite on the nose – sublime. Cool and enticing and thoroughly expressive of the minerality of its terroir. Slightly closed and held-back, hinting that it still has much more to give. It takes its time to open and unfurl … but when it does … Great depth, richness, amplitude and definition. The tannins are supremely fine-grained; very elegant and refined and very classy with all that cedar. Excellent delineation on the mid-palate releasing little undulations of fresh sappy juiciness. Svelte, succulent and sumptuous. Slightly sombre and austere – interestingly so for a 2005 – and clearly with so much more still to give. Exquisitely classical. One of the wines of the tasting and of the vintage for sure. For me, the greatest success before the 2009.
Haut Bailly 2006 (65% Cabernet Sauvignon; 35% Merlot). Opaque at the core. Glossy, with a very pronounced rim. Like many wines of the vintage, this comes across as quite serious and sombre; but, again, like other wines of the vintage, it is just starting to open and reveal its (until now) rather hidden charms. Precise, focussed and yet still very introvert. The nose is intensely floral but needs coaxing from the glass. Chrysanthemums, cherries and even a hint of kirsch. The tannins, often quite considerable and quite harsh in this vintage, are nicely integrated and draw attention to the intensity of the fruit in the mid-palate. An impressive sense of structure and good mid-palate complexity too. A fascinating wine, that is both very much of the vintage (in its slightly stolid and dour personality) and yet at the same time a wine that reveals a lot of Haut Bailly’s characteristic elegance, charm and finesse. Every time I came back to it I liked it more.
Haut Bailly 2007 (70% Cabernet Sauvignon; 26% Merlot; 4% Cabernet Franc). This appears very youthful. Pronounced but still pink-tinged rim. Glossy. Really lovely intense nose of incense and cedar. Dark, deep, rich and surprisingly effusive for the vintage. Classic with a nice sense of poise and balance. It lacks the intensity and density on the mid-palate of the great vintages of the decade; but it doesn’t really need either. One of those wines that it seems critics feel obliged to mark down because it lacks great depth and density. love it (though I would be drinking it soon). Elegant, refined and with lots of terroir personality, this is a great success in the vintage and a bit of a revelation for me. Griotte cherries, almonds and the ever-present notes of cedar and graphite. Light, delicate, elegant and utterly moreish.
Haut Bailly 2008 (70% Cabernet Sauvignon; 30% Merlot). Visibly more evolved than the vintages either side. Limpid with a deep garnet core. Stylish, sleek, cedar-coated sloe and damson fruit on the nose, with plum jam and hoisin notes developing with a little air and patience. Hints of the spice box too – star anise, aniseed, Chinese five spice – and notes of wild garrigue herbs and thyme too. Pure, quite precise and focused – tense and taut, like the nose. There is a pleasing freshness about this and an impressive, almost structural, vein of acidity that accentuates the sense of definition and length. Marked saline minerality. Though it does not have the depth or richness of the 2009 or 2010, it has a beauty all if its own and it is very refined. I also like the same slightly gamey notes that I pick up in the 1998. Veronique Sanders sees this as a vintage in which Haut Bailly enters new qualitative territory. I tend to agree – the definition and delineation of the wine puts it in the company of the great recent vintages here.
Haut Bailly 2009 (60% Cabernet Sauvignon; 37% Merlot; 2% Cabernet Franc). Super-limpid, almost radiant in the glass with a pink-tinged rim and a garnet/graphite core; you can just about convince yourself that you can see the cedar! Very young and very fresh and lively. Distinct on the nose – this is very Haut Bailly, but at the same not like any other vintage in the tasting. Ample, rich and intensely fruity. Plums with cedar and pencil-shavings, wood-smoke and fresh tobacco leaf. Hints of cherry. Creamy and ultra-soft on the entry, this unfurls on the palate very slowly at first, building to a lovely crescendo. Very broad and with impressive intensity and concentration, yet always remaining fresh, sappy and juicy. An exquisite balance of puissance and delicacy. Succulent, racy yet elegant and with so much still to come, there is exceptional promise here. A great wine in a great vintage. The same elegance as the 2005, but with just a little more substance and depth.
Haut Bailly 2010 (62% Cabernet Sauvignon; 36% Merlot; 2% Cabernet Franc). Limpid, glossy, opaque at the core and with little silver sparkles on swirling. Cool. That sense of diving into cold fresh water. Deep and very dark. Sensational and even more profound than the 2009, if a little more austere and serious – very much in the style of a vintage whose character seems to reinforce the minerality of Haut-Bailly’s terroir. Dark fruit; cedar-coated cassis. A gorgeous texture – power enrobed in cashmere. Just wonderful and probably my favourite wine of the tasting, even if it will be better still in a decade’s time. So profound and with the most incredible tannins, which remain almost imperceptibly soft on the palate for at least thirty seconds before beginning to bite and to start to reveal a little of their granular character. Finishes with a touch of grated dark chocolate and black cherries. Wondrous.
Haut Bailly 2011 (50% Cabernet Sauvignon; 47% Merlot; 3% Cabernet Franc). Similar in appearance, if very different in style, to the 2010 – which is never going to be an easy act to follow. And, in the context of the vintage, impressive and successful. Graphite minerality here in contrast to the 2010’s more cedary character. Very creamy and soft. Fresh with a lovely florality and notes of sous bois and field mushrooms. Cool and lifted. Has the same slight hint of volatile acidity as the 2006 and, also like the 2011, just a little stolid and severe – very much in the character of the vintage. Sappy and fresh with just a hint of dryness on the finish. Authentically of its vintage, if more accessible than most, and with a pronounced ferrous minerality; excellent in its way, but lacking the harmony of more recent vintages.
Haut Bailly 2012 (60% Cabernet Sauvignon; 40% Merlot). A touch lighter in the glass than the 2011. Beautifully integrated, holistic and seamless nose. Complex and engaging and very characteristic of Haut Bailly – dark damson plum fruit, sloes, wild blueberries, a touch of crème de cassis, heather and lavender, violets and primrose too. Cracked walnuts and a pleasing hints of graphite minerality and a whiff of cigar and a pinch of spice. Lovely crumbly tannins. Soft on the entry and slow to unfurl on the palate. Deceptively powerful, if not having the mid-palate intensity of the really great vintages here. A beautiful restrained expression of the vintage – stylish, elegant and well-balanced.
Haut Bailly 2013 (64% Cabernet Sauvignon; 34% Merlot; 2% Cabernet Franc). Pink rim; light extract. Looks younger in the glass than it appears on the palate. A vintage for which one has to recalibrate one’s expectations a little – this is never going to be a wine flattered by a vertical tasting. In the flight of wines, it comes across a little flat on the nose and thin on the palate. Impressively soft on the entry for the vintage, but still quite angular in comparison to either the 2012 or the 2014. Very herbal on the nose – dried thyme and rosemary are more evident than the red cherry fruit; hints of spice-box and oak, fruit cake and hoisin. A little hollow in the mid-palate, this finishes quite abruptly. It is quite an achievement to have made a wine this good and with this much of Haut Bailly’s terroir typicity to it; but there is no mistaking the vintage and the limitations of the vintage. A touch dry on the finish. This would fare very well in a horizontal tasting; but it is very easy to pick as 2013 in a vertical tasting.
Haut Bailly 2014 (66% Cabernet Sauvigon; 34% Merlot). A little early bronzing on the rim; moderate extraction; garnet core. Lovely classic cedary nose, rather like the 2012, only more so! But a little closed on the palate. A touch of spice – star anise, Chinese five spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and crushed fennel seeds. Plums, damsons, quite spicy – but this lacks a little the mid-palate concentration and delineation of the best recent vintages. The tannins are just a little powdery and drying on the finish too. I have liked this wine more in the past. It will be interesting to re-taste it in a couple of years.
Haut Bailly 2015 (60% Cabernet Sauvignon; 36% Merlot; 4% Petit Verdot). The first vintage in which the Petit Verdot features in the blend. Deep and dark-hued but actually relatively lightly extracted for the vintage; pink-purple rim; very youthful. Young on the nose too. Brambles with a hint of crème de cassis. All spice and fennel seeds; fresh, if quite firm at this stage – rather classical. More obviously powerful and, in a sense, less restrained and introvert than the other grand vintages. But still with lots more to come. Soft and silky tannins; creamy; and quite floral too. A lovely combination of violets, tobacco leaf, graphite, cracked black pepper and that saline-ferrous minerality. A vin de garde with exceptional aging potential; will need patience for its full glories are to be revealed.
Haut Bailly 2016 (53% Cabernet Sauvignon; 40% Merlot; 4% Petit Verdot; 3% Cabernet Franc). Plush; very deep; looks dark and cool – and it is! This is just wonderful. More stylish, more sleek, more austere and more sombre, in a way, than the 2009, this is also cooler, deeper and more elegant. The wine of the tasting, for me, and clearly one of the wines of the vintage. Worth coveting! A classroom cupboard full of pencil shavings and a mineshaft full of minerality – more saline here than ferrous. Plums and damsons, like the 2010 and 2012. A hint of cassis and cedar, in more of a nod to the 2009 and 2015. The finest high altitude single-estate coffee beans; tobacco leaf and a touch of cigar smoke too. This is gorgeous. Super-svelte, super-soft and yet with so much depth, concentration and natural power. But there is great freshness here too, imparting a cool, almost menthol element (though this is more about texture and mouthfeel than taste per se). This stays so soft for so long; but what is most interesting is how the tannins also serve to stretch the wine vertically on the palate, offering something to the very top and very bottom of the mouth simultaneously as the wine evolves on the palate. Finishes – eventually – on a lovely signature Haut Bailly note of grape skins, graphite and a gentle mineral lift. I love it.
Haut Bailly 2017 (60% Cabernet Sauvignon; 32% Merlot; 4% Petit Verdot; 4% Cabernet Franc). A fantastic wine in a vintage that is, for me, too often under-appreciated and that suits very well the elegant, lifted fresh style of Haut Bailly. Radiant in the glass, with attractive strikingly crystalline highlights. Crunchy croquant fresh fruit. Aerial; lifted; bright. Cedar and graphite-coated black/purple berry fruit. Blackberries and blackcurrants. This is pure, precise and nicely focused, with a beautiful rich vein of acidity accentuating both the sense of structure and the sense of delineating and layering across the palate. This does not have the density or concentration of the 2009, 2010, 2015 or 2016, but it compensates for that with lift and energy. A lovely crunchy finish much as I remember it from en primeur. A lovely expression of the appellation, the terroir and the vintage.
Haut Bailly 2018 (55% Cabernet Sauvignon; 35% Merlot; 5% Petit Verdot; 5% Cabernet Franc). Another great wine in this vintage, better in my view even than the fabulous 2015 and pushing the wondrous 2010 in terms of quality. It has over half a degree more alcohol than Domaine de Chevalier (at 14.4% – just exceeding the 2010’s already considerable 14.3%) but it is imperceptible because of the beautiful purity, precision and focussed freshness of this wine. The personality of Haut-Bailly in 2018 comes from the crispness of its fruit (cherries, cassis, blackberry and brambles), its filigree tannins, its graphite minerality and the delightful notes of liquorice root, cinnamon and nutmeg spice. It is elegant, stylish, poised and singularly balanced. Haut-Bailly 2018 is, as Veronique Sanders put it to me when I first tasted this en primeur (and in the words of Jean de la Fontaine), “tous, mais rien de trop” (everything, but not too much of anything).
Haut Bailly 2019 (56% Cabernet Sauvignon; 36% Merlot; 4% Cabernet Franc; 4% Petit Verdot). A classic blend for Haut Bailly – very close, says Veronique Sanders, to the 2015, 2016 and 2018. Analytically, it looks most like the 2009, but the character of the two wines is very different. Richer, deeper, and mo re profound than Haut Bailly II, as you might expect, but cut very much from the same cloth. This is radiant on the nose, especially once it has had a little chance to breathe. Very pure, very precise and very focussed – very much the style of Haut Bailly in recent vintages, but arguably taken to yet previously unattained heights. Glossy, creamy and silkily textured but with oodles of lively, bright, energetic fresh fruit – raspberries and blackcurrants, red cherries, violets and heather, a succulent graphite minerality, a pinch of fleur de sel and lovely earthy, cedary undertones. Long and composed with the freshness coalescing with the tannic spine of this wine to give a very impressive if subtle perception of depth, power, density and structure. Very beautiful and certainly on a par with the best recent vintages. Exquisitely elegant and utterly harmonious.
Wines of the tasting: Haut Bailly 2010, 2016, 2019
Other highlights: Haut Bailly 2000, 2005, 2009, 2015, 2018
Exceeding expectations: Haut Bailly 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2017
Colin Hay is Professor of Political Science at Sciences Po in Paris where he works on the political economy of Europe, La Place de Bordeaux and wine markets more generally.
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