Château Haut-Bages Libéral
Address: 33250 Pauillac
Telephone: +33 (0)5 57 88 76 65
Generally good value and true Pauillac with lots of blackcurrant fruit, Château Haut-Bages Libéral takes its name from the Bages plateau in Pauillac and the Libéral family who established it. The vineyards neighbour extremely fine chateaux such as Château Pichon Baron and the estate’s largest plot borders Château Latour – enviable situations indeed. Acquired by the Cruse family in 1960, the Villars family [Chasse Spleen] bought it 1983. Since then the wine-making facilities were renovated and the vineyards replanted. Claire Villars-Lurton runs the property. At its best this is vibrant, sinewy Pauillac, though in some vintages it can occasionally can feel a bit pinched in comparison to its peers. Latest vintages 2015 and 2016 [especially] are vivid, positive and convincing.
Vineyard/Terroir: 30 hectares on Guntz Garonne gravel with a clay-limestone subsoil. Planted with 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot.
Winemaking/Elévage: Traditional and aged for between 16-18 months in barrel, 40% new.
- 2016 Deep and intense looking; lovely vibrant edge; vivid; deep centre; really polished wine; lovely pure blackcurrant profile; stunning aromatics; really impressive; little wood on the palate but plenty of extract; has the chew and the depth; length; bit of wood to accommodate; plenty of flesh though; good texture and acidity; really nicely done; like the spikey acid. Again best yet from Haut-Bages-Libéral? Another great Pauillac success in 2016. [70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 40% new oak, 13.5% alc]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2022-2036. 93-94+
- 2015 Deepish; vibrant edge; fresh; some spice; blackcurrant cassis; minerality; palate a little compact and oak showing for now; will settle well; sappy finish; has vigour and freshness. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 13.5%]. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted 5/4/16 UGCB. 89-91+
- 2014 Deep and vibrant looking; mealy note; herbal tones; spices and some blackcurrants; sample a little dumb/subdued; elegant palate; high toned; lacks mid palate richness; freshness and acidity very present. Should settle. 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 40% new oak. Drink 2020-2028. Tasted UGC 2 April, 2015. 85-87
- 2013 Mid depth; light at edge; cool and fresh aromatics; stalky Cabernet tones; attractive fruit on the palate but lacks density and depth but not too puckering. Softish finish. [75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 40% new oak]. Tasted UGC 1/4/14. 85-87 [second note] Mid depth; little dumb; palate angular and acidic; feels very tight and rather thin with pronounced acidity on the finish. Fresh certainly but overall rather meagre. Tasted UGC 3/4/14. Drink 2018-2025. 83-85
- 2012 Mid depth; fresh and vigorous blackcurrants on the nose; some stalky notes; entry soft and vibrant with attractive blackcurrant tones and spices; some development here; perhaps a little compact [the vintage] but round and nicely handled in the cellar. Elegant and vibrant Pauillac. Drink 2016-2025. 88+ UGC Oct ’14 [Earlier note] Mid depth; vibrant edge; high toned; some perfume and violet lift; almost floral tones; blackcurrants on the palate; little dryness and tannins very present. Palate feels a little lean. Should fill out but will always be ‘fresh and grippy’. Tasted UGC April 11, 2013. 86-88 [Earlier note] Mid depth; not as saturated as Lynch-Bages; more floral tones; pretty and lifted; spice, perfume and blackcurrants. Attractive and pretty on the nose; more earthy notes on the palate; leaf and blackcurrant and a bit of undergrowth; tannins dry and lacks a bit of mid-palate richness. Will fill out but will always be a leaner, sappy style. Tasted UGC Tuesday April 9, 2013. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot. 87-89
- 2011 Mid depth; light spicy blackcurrant tones; more stalky blackcurrant fruit on the palate; quite tight and grippy at the end. Will settle but a lean style. Drink 2016-2026 86+ UGC Oct ’13 [Earlier note] Deep, vibrant at edge; ripe cassis, blackcurrants, purity here; feels good; summer pudding notes; ripe fruit on the palate but quite structured; feels a little angular but will probably fill out. Structured but with probably enough flesh. Firm acid. Bite at the end. Tasted 3/4/12 and 5/4/12 at UGCB. 86-88
- 2010 Deep; fresh blackcurrant aromatics; some wet rocks notes; attractive in a vibrant and vivacious way; vibrant, fresh palate; more grip and sap in evidence; attractive in a fresher style; shorter length than Grand-Puy-Lacoste immediately before. Good value, fresh vigorous Pauillac. Drink 2016-2030. 91+ MW Institute Nov ’14 [Earlier note] Mid depth; fresh looking; clean, some purity, blackcurrant and layers; grippy palate, blackcurrants but quite high acid makes things feel pretty grippy. This will have a long life I’m sure but the present acid makes it feel a little lean. May improve. 86+ UGCB Nov ’12 [Earlier note] Deep, saturated; maybe fraction less dense here; some higher toned notes as usual; some gdc; some fragrance too, blackcurrants; not bad palate; quite grippy. Feels fresh. 87-89/100 Tasted 5 April 2011 UGCB. [Second tasting UGC] Deep, not as dark and black as some; quite pretty and fragrant Cabernet nose; clean and quite fresh; feels higher tones but nice; blackcurrants and cream on the palate; quite intense; lots of blackcurrant fruit and some chew and grip too; Quite sappy. Good and fresh 88-90+/100 Tasted 7April UGCB
- 2009 Mid depth; earthy blackcurrant tones; initially a little reductive; opens up; freshness and purity here; grippy palate compared with most; more ballsy and not the worse for it; clearly a lot of fruit in a slightly fresher [earlier picked?] style; lots of fresh blackcurrants and spices and more acidity here than some. Good value, fresh Pauillac. Drink 2015-2030. 91+ MW Institute Nov ’13 [Earlier note] Deep and dark; really saturated looking; iron, ink and iodine one the nose; some earth; strong blackcurrant notes on palate; earth and some herbal tones; quite spicy; autumn leaves and undergrowth too; chewy and grippy on the finish. Interesting. Vital. 90+/100 UGCB Oct ’11 [Earlier note] 2009 Deep; intense at edge; slightly more leafy note here; more lifted nose; little coarser and less fine grained tannins than the others. Leaf here and slight green streak, palate more disjointed. Hope this settles? Expected much more in this vintage. This is a good Chateau. 86-88?/100 Tasted 30th March & 1st April ’10 UGC Primeur tastings.
- 2008 Deep; bright and still a little purple at edge; slightly reductive; blackcurrants on the palate; sturdy; with lots of grip and acid. Grippy finish. 87 MW Institute Nov ‘12
- 2006 Good colour, fresh looking red with density; blackcurrants on the nose [no leafiness] cassis and quite classic; palate quite fresh with blackcurrants, structured wine with acid but freshness too; good blackcurrant fruit and well made. Quite settled and fine. Good effort. 88+/100 MW Institute Nov ‘10
- 2000 Dense core, red at edge; lovely, textbook Pauillac nose – cedar, blackcurrants, freshness, this is now perfectly mature cru classe with a wonderful balance between freshness, fruit and complexity on the nose; mid weight on the palate with a certain acidity that works very well with food; tannins are fine but present and lots of blackcurrant fruit here; a slightly higher-toned style cf Lynch-Bages and say Pichon Baron, but this is an extremely appetizing glass of Pauillac 91+ Mar ’12 [Earlier note] Dark black red; blackcurrant and leaf on the nose; lifted; some pencil shavings – more intensity than Duhart and more fruit driven; full of blackcurrant fruit and ripe full tannins. Well made Pauillac. Enjoyable. 90/100 Jan ‘10
- 1986 Dark red; stalky, slight dusty nose; big and gutsy but slightly dusty palate; lacks generosity. Hard. May come round? 85?/100 Mar ‘96