While the estate known as Chateau Haut-Bailly dates back to 1461, its wine production began in 1530, falling into the hands of the de Leuvarde and Le Bailly families in 1630. It was purchased in 1998 by Robert G Wilmers, a Harvard-educated banker, and his French wife Elisabeth and under their care, the estate has begun producing some of the best wines in its history. The cellars and production procedures were renovated and modernised and this year, the Chateau itself was awarded government recognition of its cultural and vinious heritage.
From some of the oldest vines in the region, the 2016 has been lauded as one of the Chateau’s best, with Neal Martin hailing it as “perhaps the best that I have tasted in almost 20 years of tasting at this estate.
90-93/100 Andrew Caillard MW. Medium deep colour. Fresh cedar/ elderberry/ spicy plum aromas. Well concentrated sinuous wine with fresh elderberry/ cassis flavours, plentiful brambly dry strangulating tannins. Tannins slick at the finish. Very elemental and powerful, but could develop into something.
91-93/100 Robert Parker Jr. While the elegant, stylish 2011 Haut-Bailly does not possess the density and concentration of the three vintages that preceded it, this is still outstanding wine as well as a tribute to the impeccable work done by proprietor Robert Wilmers and his manager, Veronique Sanders. Classic red and black currant aromas interspersed with notions of wet stones/crushed rocks, tobacco leaf and spice box are followed by a medium-bodied, well-balanced, impressively pure wine built on finesse and understatement. This beauty is capable of drinking well young or over the next 15+ years.
17.5/20 Steven Spurrier, Decanter. Concentrated, slightly spicy and earthy black fruits, fine ripeness and great vineyard expression, tannins are still a bit raw but the rich middle fruit will dominate. Drink 2017-2035
Though wine has been made in Pessac-Léognan since ancient Roman times, it was only in 1987 that the neighbouring villages of Pessac and Léognan were singled out from the surrounding Graves region and given their own appellation. The designation acknowledges that Pessac-Léognan is home to the most acclaimed properties of Bordeaux’s Graves region, such as the Premier Cru Château Haut-Brion.
The vineyards of Pessac-Léognan, just south of the city of Bordeaux, are crowded by suburban sprawl. About 3,000 acres are dedicated mostly to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grown for red wines, with a small portion devoted to Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and other grapes for white wines. Pessac-Léognan red wines are elegant and concentrated, with medium to full body. They offer distinct aromas and flavours of mineral and earth, and can have lush fruit or smoky tobacco character. Pessac-Léognan white wines are dry, unlike the famous sweet white wines from nearby Sauternes. They are generally crisp and minerally with citrus notes, often with rich character from oak aging and capable of improving with additional age.