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 reorganising many things at Haut Bailly.
Then in 1955, Daniel Sanders acquired Haut Bailly. He modernised 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 therefore, there's no white wine here.
There's no doubt that Haut Bailly has great soil, which gives Grand Vin an unmistakable scent of minerality and, to some extent, a flavour of smokiness. It certainly helps when old vines contribute with a healthy dose of everything perfect. I've noticed that Petit Verdot joined the blend in the 2015 and 2016 vintage. It's like 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 concerning tasting 9 vintages of Haut Bailly during my Bordeaux stay in October 2017.
Future looks great for Haut Bailly, and Veronique Sanders Van Beek told me that she's delighted with the 2017 vintage.
9 vintages are ready to be tasted - October 2017
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 flavour, 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. Fabulous 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 evident graphite flavour, 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, excellent 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 combined with remarkable acidity and minerality, it reflects the great soil of the property and old vines. Excellent structure and complexity. Great intensity of aromas of black and red fruit on the nose, followed by great depth, length and persistent finish on the palate. Extremely impressive and 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+ different 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, normal yields. Curiously, 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 and minerality, the remarkable sweetness of black fruit, riveting length and finish. An outstanding vintage for the property, and it 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, great complexity and structure, no holes in the firmament, really 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 yields. Fruity and marked by gentle vinification and careful extraction. Not perfect ripeness here, but the combination of round, soft and tasty fruit together with soft and gentle tannin seems adequate here. This wine won't keep for many years and would 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 included in many restaurants wine-list.
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 attractive and silky fruit/tannin, elegant, round, tasty, and great 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 low yield for C.Sauvignon and bigger for Merlot. Another style here than in 2012, and this wine is similar to 2014. Well-balanced, 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 both 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 or rather 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 that this wine never did close down during this vertical tasting - it's been open arms from the very 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 exposing great minerality and complexity, great depth and structure, impressive length and balance. Excellent effort.
A hundred years plus old vine - late October 2016