Wine director Véronique Sanders explained the key to the vintage: hard work in the vineyard was followed by meticulous handling of the juice during the fermentation process to avoid over-extraction. The result is quite fabulous. Deep opaque in colour, this has a beautifully charismatic spiced, cocoa, wild fruits sensation. The wine is refined and silky and full of life. Deliciously long and subtle on the finish.
The Château Haut-Bailly 2014 is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 34% Merlot picked between 24 September and 15 October. Véronique Sanders explained that it represents a much higher percentage of Cabernet because of its quality, the Merlot undergoing some saignée due to the size of berries. Matured in 50% new oak and including 8% vin de presse, it has a lovely bouquet with superb delineation, touches of undergrowth and tobacco infusing the pure black fruit, stirrings of black tea emerging with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with edgy, crisp tannin on the entry and good acidity (ph 3.7), perhaps more than say, the 2012. There is a fine sense of energy here and at dovetails into a lightly spiced, slightly saline finish. This is a slightly less ostentatious than recent vintages, a little more restrained but the terroir really shows through. Excellent. Expect this to land at the top of my banded score.
The 2014 Haut Bailly has a charming, quite intense bouquet with layers of blackberry, raspberry coulis, black olive and melted tar scents that soar from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, well-judged acidity, harmonious and focused with superb density and precision towards the finish. This is a classy number and alongside Domaine de Chevalier, it is one of the standouts from the appellation in this vintage. Drink 2020-2045. 94/100
66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot. They are deliberately vinifying lighter and lighter with less extraction so that this blend contains 8% press wine. Rich and substantial but racier than the old Haut-Bailly style. Really very well mastered. Good balance without excess acidity or tannin. Very persistent. The concentration was presumably helped enormously by the saignée that produced the Rosé. Just a little stolid but a very impressive 2014. Drink 2020-2034
A subtle and refined wine with savory, salty and delicately fruity character. Full body, fine tannins and a fresh finish. Compacted and tight. Lovely tension. Precise.
The 2014 Haut Bailly is exceptionally polished, creamy and textured from the very first taste. Black cherries, plums, smoke, tobacco and incense meld together in an ample, voluptuous wine built on pure texture. The high percentage of Merlot gives the 2014 relatively soft contours to balance the pure intensity of the Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a remarkably balanced, polished, young Haut-Bailly. The blend is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 34% Merlot.
Lovely restrained black fruit and pencil shavings on the nose, beautifully extracted, although the fruit is not quite as vibrant as in the best vintages of this excellent property. Good persistency, a supremely elegant take on the vintage, in the line of 2001. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot. A masterclass as ever in precision winemaking, and although there is 8% of press wine it gives weight without straining the structure. Denis Dubourdieu consultant here for last 17 years, since 1998. Drink: 2025-2040
An ambitious Haut-Bailly that’s made with one eye on the future. Bold, concentrated and savoury but with considerable underlying finesse, this has gravelly tannins, bright acidity and sinewy tannins. The fruit sweetness is there, but it needs time to emerge from the wine’s shell. Drink: 2022-30
Stretching from the rather unglamorous southern suburbs of Bordeaux, for 50 km along the left bank of the river Garonne, lies Graves. Named for its gravelly soil, a relic of Ice Age glaciers, this is the birthplace of claret, despatched from the Middle Ages onwards from the nearby quayside to England in vast quantities. It can feel as though Bordeaux is just about red wines, but some sensational white wines are produced in this area from a blend of sauvignon blanc, Semillon and, occasionally, muscadelle grapes, often fermented and aged in barrel. In particular, Domaine de Chevalier is renowned for its superbly complex whites, which continue to develop in bottle over decades. A premium appellation, Pessac-Leognan, was created in 1987 for the most prestigious terroirs within Graves. These are soils with exceptional drainage, made up of gravel terraces built up in layers over many millennia, and consequently thrive in mediocre vintages but are less likely to perform well in hotter years. These wines were appraised and graded in their own classification system in 1953 and updated in 1959, but, like the 1855 classification system, this should be regarded with caution and the wines must absolutely be assessed on their own current merits.