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.
"The 2017 Haut-Bailly is an understated beauty. Nothing in particular stands out rather it is the wine's balance that impresses most. All the classic Haut-Bailly signatures come through in a mid-weight, super-finessed wine that hits all the right notes. Dark red and blue stone fruits, graphite, smoke, licorice and incense are all laced into the super-expressive finish. The 2017 emerges from the estate's central, most historic parcels, as those vineyards were not affected by the April frost that took with it 30% of the production."
93-96 points, Antonio Galloni
"The 2017 Haut-Bailly is composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. Very deep garnet-purple coloured, it has a wonderfully spicy nose of cinnamon stick, cloves, anise and fenugreek with core of roses, warm blueberries, black forest cake and black raspberries plus hints of underbrush and iron ore. Medium to full-bodied with firm, ripe, grainy tannins, it has oodles of freshness and great finesse, continuing bright and energetic on the long, minerally finish."
94-96 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
"50% new oak. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% each Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Harvested 13–29 September. pH 3.74 (almost the same as in 2016).
Very dark with purple rim. Oozes elegance on the nose, subtle dark fruit, nicely dusty/mineral and a touch of graphite and a slight and attractive herbaceous note. More fragrant with air. Texture is fine like layers of paper, tannins are dry and refined. Lightness of touch but really persistent. Juicy, gentle. Very lovely, the graphite elegance, freshness and fruit go on to the end. Drink 2027-2040"
17.5+ points, Julia Harding MW, jancisrobinson.com
"The 2017 Haut-Bailly was cropped at 28hl/ha (40hl/ha on non-frozen parcels and 2hl/ha on frosted parcels) and includes co-fermented Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It is unlikely to contain any vin de presse this year, unlike in 2016, and it is matured in 50% new oak. There is a pH of 3.74 with 13.2° alcohol. It has an attractive and quite opulent bouquet, a mixture of red and black fruit, hints of crushed stone and briary, a light oyster shell influence. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin but there is good backbone here, quite “solid” for Haut-Bailly and it will need to just soften the edges during its élevage. With moderate length and a very attractive graphite aftertaste, this Haut-Bailly will require five or six years in bottle but will repay the patient wine-lover."
92-94 points, Neal Martin
"A firm and silky red with a medium to full body, a solid centre palate and a long and integrated finish. Very fine, polished and refined. Creamy tannins. Hints of bitter orange."
94-95 points, James Suckling
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.