Chateau Haut-Bailly 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The vineyard of Haut-Bailly as we know it today began to take shape when the Goyanèche and then the Daitze family acquired and unified the best vine growing plots in the 1530s. The estate remained in the Daitze Family until 1630 when it was purchased by Firmin Le Bailly and Nicolas de Leuvarde, wealthy Parisian bankers and lovers of Graves wines.
Following substantial investments, the property continued to be passed down the Bailly family line until 1736, when Irishman Thomas Barton took the helm. His strong business network allowed him to spread word about the quality of Chateau Haut-Bailly at a time when French ‘claret' was beginning its rise to stardom in England and Ireland.
Throughout the 18th century powerful, well-connected and ambitious owners drove Haut-Bailly to new heights, including Christophe Lafaurie de Monbadon and his son Laurent who went on to become Mayor of Bordeaux in 1805.
In 1872, Alcide Bellot des Minières acquired the estate and constructed the imposing, stone chateau building that remains to this day. He pioneered a precise, science-driven approach to viticulture, becoming a figure of legend widely known as the 'King of Vintners'. Thanks to Alcide's incredible drive, Haut-Bailly experienced a remarkable golden age, commanding the same prices as the First Growths: Lafite, Latour, Margaux and Haut-Brion.
The purchase of Haut-Bailly in 1955 by Daniel Sanders, a Belgian negociant, opened up a new era. Daniel and his son, Jean, recomposed the vineyard, renovated the winery and took pains to select only grapes from the best vines for their grand vin. They succeeded in giving the wines a unique style and reputation, and Haut-Bailly recovered its image as a great wine on the international marketplace.
In July 1998 Chateau Haut-Bailly was purchased by American Robert G. Wilmers, chairman and CEO of the M&T Bank based in Buffalo, New York. A lifelong lover of Bordeaux Grands Crus, Bob was behind every strategic decision, ensuring that Haut-Bailly followed a path of progression and continuity whilst remaining ever-respectful of its heritage.
After Mr. Wilmers purchased the property, he first asked Jean Sanders to stay on board, and then Véronique Sanders, fourth generation, to serve as general manager, overseeing a far-reaching investment programme to modernise the vineyards, cellars, offices, and chateau itself.
For Bob and his wife Elisabeth, Haut-Bailly went well beyond a financial investment: it was a joint passion. Following the sad passing of Bob in December 2017, his family has taken over and will continue in his footsteps. Together with the management team, they are committed to continuing Bob’s work in the same spirit and energy as in the past twenty years. The many recently initiated and future projects will be pursued.
Recognized for its superior reds as well as whites, Pessac-Léognan on the Left Bank claims classified growths for both—making it quite unique in comparison to its neighboring Médoc properties.
Pessac’s Chateau Haut-Brion, the only first growth located outside of the Médoc, is said to have been the first to conceptualize fine red wine in Bordeaux back in the late 1600s. The estate, along with its high-esteemed neighbors, La Mission Haut-Brion, Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Pique-Caillou and Chateau Pape-Clément are today all but enveloped by the city of Bordeaux. The rest of the vineyards of Pessac-Léognan are in clearings of heavily forested area or abutting dense suburbs.
Arid sand and gravel on top of clay and limestone make the area unique and conducive to growing Sémillon and Sauvignon blanc as well as the grapes in the usual Left Bank red recipe: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and miniscule percentages of Petit Verdot and Malbec.
The best reds will show great force and finesse with inky blue and black fruit, mushroom, forest, tobacco, iodine and a smooth and intriguing texture.
Its best whites show complexity, longevity and no lack of exotic twists on citrus, tropical and stone fruit with pronounced floral and spice characteristics.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
In the Glass
Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.