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Bordeaux 2016: Château Haut-Bailly

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Château Haut-Bailly has made an extremely impressive wine in 2016. It is a hypothetical blend of 2010 and 2015 for me. It has something of the structure of the former with the plushness and appeal of the latter. It emphasizes again the quality of the vintage as well as the fabulous terroir at Haut-Bailly. The care and attention to detail in the vineyard and in the winemaking here is also second to none. This wine caps a string of beauties [2005, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015] in which Haut-Bailly has made some of the best and most exciting red wine in Bordeaux.

The 2016 vintage was something of a rollercoaster at Château Haut Bailly. Record levels of rain fell in the winter months. Between the winter and the spring the property received the equivalent of a years average annual rainfall. Frost in late April could have heralded disaster. Then from late June onwards until mid September drought conditions prevailed in what was the driest summer in Bordeaux since 1893. Fortunately, despite the wet and cool start to the year, flowering occurred in ideal conditions for an even fruit set and the heavy rains supplied sufficient moisture to the water table to ameliorate the dry summer conditions. Some light showers also helped with veraison which Haut-Bailly report as being just as homogeneous as flowering.

The key to the final quality of the vintage was the autumn. The major shower on September 13 brought widespread relief across Bordeaux, allowing the grapes to finish their ripening process in what turned out to be ideal conditions in the sunny, dry weather that followed. In some senses 2016 then became a ‘deckchair’ vintage at Haut-Bailly. The property could pick and chose its harvest dates to suit individual plots, unhurried by the prospect of poor weather. Picking began on 26 September for the Merlot and was completed on ten consecutive mornings. 11 October saw the start of the harvest of the Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. These completed a week later. The results are fabulous. For a report on Château Haut-Bailly’s pricing strategy take a peek at Liv-Ex analysis here.

The following wines were tasted at Château Haut-Bailly on Tuesday April 2, 2017. Château Le Pape continues its improvements. 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the first vintage of La Parde Haut-Bailly, the pioneering second wine of Haut-Bailly itself, originally called Domaine de la Parde.

Château Le Pape, Pessac-Léognan

Deep earthy purple colour; healthy looking; deep aromatics; ripe and full; spices; layered and textured palate; good acidity; nice balance; quite compact on the finish. Length. Freshness but with texture. This is the third vintage of La Pape released since the purchase of the property. [80% Merlot, 20% Cab Sauvignon, 45hl/ha, 9ha property with 5 ha presently planted. Annual production around 20,000 bottles.]. Drink 2022-2028. 90-92+

La Parde Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan

Deep and saturated; fresh and bright fruit; cherry, plum and earth; vivacious; fresh and nice texture on the palate; really groovy balance; nice modesty and balance here; proportion. Very good stuff. [47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc 6%]. Drink 2022-2030. Tasted 2/4/17. 91-93+

Château Haut-Bailly, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Deep and saturated looking; very deep aromatics; lots of depth; beautiful fruit; opens up the glass; very deep indeed; pure; full; pure; profound; tannins nicely done but has freshness and life; this will work very well indeed. Really nice balance. Big but lovely cool fruit. Good length. Top notch. Will be brilliant – potentially as perfect at 2010 but different stylistically. [53% Cabernet, 40% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 50% new oak]. Drink 2025-2045. 96-100

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