Maleric view of the chateau!
Veronique Sanders Van Beek - responsible for Haut Bailly's excellent performances - October 2017
Chateau Haut Bailly is situated well outside the little town of Léognan, between La Louviere and Larrivet Haut Brion. It's a classified growth and has the appellation Pessac-Léognan.
Bailly word in the name originates from 1630, when Firmin Le Bailly, a Parisian banker, prepared this estate for commercial development. In 1872, Aleide Bellot des Minières was responsible for building the chateau and reorganizing many things at Haut Bailly.
Then in 1955, Daniel Sanders acquired Haut Bailly. He modernized winemaking facilities. His son, Jean Sanders, took over the property in 1979. An American banker, Robert Wilmer, and his wife bought Haut Bailly in 1998. They chose Veronique Sanders, daughter of Jean Sanders, as general manager. She's still at the helm of the property.
Haut Bailly is 30 ha of vines planted on gravelly soil with a subsoil of sand and clay-gravel mix. Cépage is 60% C.Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 3% C.Franc and 3% Petit Verdot, vines are on average 35% years old. However, 15% of these vines and particularly parcels of C.Sauvignon and Merlot in the front of the chateau, are 100+ years old. The vat room is equipped with 26 cement and ten stainless steel vats, alcoholic fermentation is carried out at max. 28 degrees C, maceration time is 3.4 weeks, and the wine spends 16-18 months in 50-60% new French oak.
For some unknown reason, white grape varieties have never been planted at Haut Bailly, and because of that, there's no white wine here.
There's no doubt that Haut Bailly has excellent soil, which gives Grand Vin an unmistakable scent of minerality and, to some extent, a flavor of smokiness. It certainly helps when old vines contribute with a healthy dose of everything perfectly. I've noticed that Petit Verdot joined the blend in the 2015 and 2016 vintage. Both vintages got something extra to put in their perfect frame. However, 2010 has no PV in the blend and is a monster, but other parameters.
Veronique Sanders Van Beek was so kind as to accept my request to taste nine Haut Bailly vintages during my Bordeaux stay in October 2017.
The future looks excellent for Haut Bailly, and Veronique Sanders Van Beek told me she's delighted with the 2017 vintage.
Nine vintages are ready to be tasted - October 2017
2022 Haut Bailly (barrel sample) 98p
Tasted in April 2023. 56% C. Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 5% P. Verdot and 2% C. Franc. 14.5% alcohol. The production was only 30 hl/ha. Strong, noticeable minerality, graphite, tobacco, tight, strong structure, many layers, excellent mid-palate, and long, meaty aftertaste. Fabulous stuff.
2021 Haut Bailly (barrel sample) 94-95p
Tasted in April 2022. 65% C. Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 10% P. Verdot and 3% C. Franc. 13% alcohol. 2021 was the first vintage made entirely in the new cellar. The production was only 19hl/ha because of frost. There was less Merlot and more C.Sauvignon and P. Verdot in the blend for 2021. Both latter grape varieties ripened perfectly. Dense, mineral, graphite, cigar box, tight, firm structure, finely grained tannin, persistent finish. Impressive stuff.
2020 Haut Bailly (barrel sample) 97p
Tasted in May 2021. 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. 14.3% alcohol. It was a potent and concentrated wine with a strong backbone, cigar box, mineral with evident graphite flavor, great structure, complexity, and length. It's ripe tannin but firmer in 2020 than in the 2018 and 2019 vintage. Stupendous effort.
2019 Haut Bailly (barrel sample) 97p
Tasted in June 2020. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon + 36% Merlot + 4% Cabernet Franc + 4% Petit Verdot, 13.7% alcohol. Very mineral, very Cabernet Sauvignon scented with associations to red meat and grilled bacon. Gentler and more elegant than usual but keeping the richness and sophisticated touch intact. Excellent complexity, balance, and persistent finish. Refined and finesse. Outstanding effort.
2018 Haut Bailly 97-98p
Tasted three times - last time in January 2021. Consistent notes. The property was struck by mildew and hail in the growing season, and since the vineyard is organically farmed, the yield per ha did decrease significantly and landed at app. 21 hl. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 5% of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It was powerful and concentrated with a strong backbone, cigar box, mineral with marked graphite flavor, great structure, complexity, and length. There was a sophisticated touch to it. Amazing stuff.
2017 Haut Bailly (barrel sample) 96p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2018. Consistent notes. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. This property continues its hot streak of producing excellent vintages with complete wine, showing freshness, terrific structure, and great complexity.
2016 Haut Bailly 97-98p
Tasted six times - last time in March 2019. Consistent notes. 53% C. Sauvignon + 40% Merlot + 4% Petit Verdot + 3% C.Franc, problem-free harvest between 26th September and 18th October. Distinguished, noble, and at the same time, strong and tight. This wine has a certain smokiness to it, and that was combined with remarkable acidity and minerality. It reflects the great soil of the property and old vines. Excellent structure and complexity. Great intensity of black and red fruit aromas on the nose, followed by great depth, length, and persistent finish on the palate. Extremely impressive and a sure candidate to enter the top 15 wines of the vintage.
Late October 2016 - technical director at Haut Bailly, Gabriel Vialard, with samples of 2016 after alcoholic fermentation from 20+ parcels, among these 100 years old Merlot and 100 years old C.Sauvignon
2015 Haut Bailly 96+p
Tasted five times - last time in October 2018. Consistent notes. 60% C. Sauvignon + 36% Merlot´+ 4% Petit Verdot, Long harvest between 15th September and 8th October and expected yields. This wine tasted more concentrated than 2016 a year ago but not this year; perhaps it isn't as distinguished and pure as 2016. Still, you're treated with excellent structure, complexity, minerality, black fruit's remarkable sweetness, riveting length, and finish. An outstanding vintage for the property makes an exceptional pair with 2016!
2014 Haut Bailly 95+p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2017. Consistent notes. 66% C. Sauvignon + 34% Merlot, harvest between 24th September and 15 October. Cool vintage in every sense. Very stylish wine with great complexity and structure, No holes on the mid-palate, and remarkable acidity and minerality. Long fruity aftertaste. I will keep it for many years to come. So truly classic Bordeaux wine!
2013 Haut Bailly 91p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2017. Consistent notes. 64% C. Sauvignon + 34% Merlot + 2% C.Franc, short harvest between 1st and 10th October, poor flowering, small grapes, and rigorous selection resulted in low yield. Fruity and marked by gentle vinification and careful extraction. Not perfect ripeness here, but the combination of round, soft, and tasty fruit and soft and gentle tannin seems adequate. This wine won't last long and will be enjoyed early while we wait for big vintages like 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016 to be ready to drink. Therefore, this wine is perfect to be on many restaurants' wine lists.
2012 Haut Bailly 93p
Tasted three times - last time in September 2018. Consistent notes. 60% C. Sauvignon + 40% Merlot, harvest between 27th September and 15th October. This vintage produced delicious wines with lovely, silky fruit/tannin, elegant, round, tasty, and eminent drinkability. They lack the intensity, concentration, and body of big vintages, but you can't take the sheer pleasure and captivating approach from these wines. Haut Bailly fits perfectly in this description and role!
2011 Haut Bailly 93p
Tasted three times - last time in September 2019. Consistent notes. 50% C.Sauvignon + 47% Merlot + 3% C.Franc, 20 days harvest between 9th September and 29th September. There was a low yield for C.Sauvignon and a normal one for Merlot. A different style here than in 2012. This wine is similar to 2014. It's a well-balanced wine, mineral, a bit smoky, and with a firm finish. Splendid effort.
2010 Haut Bailly 96p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2017. Not consistent notes. 62% C. Sauvignon + 36% Merlot + 2% C. Franc, harvest between 22nd September and 14th October, easy vintage to handle. This wine wasn't that impressive from the barrel and when tasted in 2013 after bottling. It seems, however, this wine underwent a dramatic development for four years. For now, it's a monster, a marathon man, big, tight, full-bodied, long. Still, it does it with style and elegance. It'll last forever and gives 2015 and 2016 runs for their money!
2009 Haut Bailly 93-94p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2017. Consistent notes. 60% C. Sauvignon + 37% Merlot + 3% C.Franc, long harvest between 15th September and 14th October. Delightful wine with sweet fruit, smiling, and having fun. Veronique Sanders-Van Beek told me this wine never did close down during this vertical tasting - it's been open arms from the beginning.
2008 Haut Bailly 94p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2017. Consistent notes. 70% C. Sauvignon + 30% Merlot, long harvest between 25th September and 23rd October, low yields. Cool in style vintage, so typical Bordeaux. Very stylish wine exposes great minerality and complexity, depth and structure, and impressive length and balance. Excellent effort.
A hundred years plus old vine - late October 2016