The 2018 Haut-Bailly II is a bomb. All of the richness of the year comes through in a wine that is bursting at the seams with fruit. Dark red cherry, tobacco, cedar, mint and licorice race out of the glass. Ripeness is decidedly pushed, and yet the 2018 remains poised and impeccably balanced. Silky tannins wrap around the plush, sensual finish.
The 2018 Haut-Bailly II has a very endearing bouquet of mixed red and black fruit, cedar and sandalwood, plus light white pepper scents and a touch of Earl Grey, all very well defined and focused. The palate is medium-bodied with black olive/brine-tinged black fruit. This is a spicy Deuxième Vin from the team at Haut-Bailly, so much so that the mouth tingles with residual pepperiness for 30 seconds after it has exited. It needs 2–3 years in bottle for the tannins to soften, but it will then drink well for up to 15 years.
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.