Ch Haut Bailly 2014: "a supremely elegant take on the vintage"

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This morning has seen the release of one of the undoubted stars of Pessac-Léognan, Chateau Haut Bailly. At Goedhuis we love the wines of Pessac-Léognan and this famed estate, run by Bordeaux’s most dynamic female wine director, Veronique Sanders, and her brilliant wine making team led by Gabriel Vialard, is a favourite.

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Pessac can sometimes be overlooked during en primeur releases, but this fine 2014 highlights why, within Bordeaux circles, its wines are considered amongst the most sophisticated in the region. Ch Haut Bailly, situated on a rise overlooking its vineyards, makes a wonderful example, balancing a subtle richness of fruit with beautiful freshness.

This excellent wine shows why in previous eras Haut Bailly’s wines were often priced alongside the 1st growths and at £420 per 12 IB it seems an extremely sensible buy.

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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. Wonderful. Drink 2024-2036
Score: 92-94. David Roberts MW

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.
Score: 91/93 Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (218)

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.
Score: 93/94 James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

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.
Score: 93/96 Antonio Galloni, vinousmedia.com

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
Score: 94 Decanter Magazine

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.
Score: 94 Tim Atkin MW, timatkin.com