Judging quality is a more straight-forward exercise than judging price when it comes to 2016 Bordeaux en primeur. Simon's offer, below.
There are a number of properties that we have followed over the last few years where we believe quality has shifted upwards in relatively dramatic fashion. To see some re-positioning of price with such estates is perhaps not unexpected, nor unwarranted. Château Haut-Bailly is one such estate. Since the 2005 vintage the quality at Haut-Bailly had been steadily increasing, with notable highs in 2009, 2010 and 2012. I firmly believe things kicked on to a different level with the 2015 and 2016 vintages, which together must surely rate as the two most enthralling vintages I have tasted from Haut-Bailly. The price of the 2016 is probably a fraction higher than I had hoped, but as one of a handful of stand-out wines from my en primeur tastings this year, it is well worth offering to our clients.
The 2016 offers wonderful aromas of ripe, juicy berry fruit, gently perfumed and markedly fresh. What impresses me most is the silky grain to the tannin; this is a remarkably detailed wine, with a sumptuous, sleek impression to the fruit. There is nothing forced here, rather it is a beautifully elegant expression of this distinguished vineyard with its tell-tale mineral nuance. The 2016 boasts such harmony and precision; it is really head-turning. The density gradually builds on the palate, leading to a gravelly note of complexity on the finish that simply refuses to fade. If great wines are judged on their balance and persistence, then this is a truly great wine. How far away from the quality of a First Growth do I perceive this to be? Now that is an interesting question...The answer is not as far away as you might think, and one can easily understand that in the late 1800s to the 1920s, the wine of Haut-Bailly sold for as much money as the First Growths!
Please see below for Neal Martin’s, James Suckling’s and Antonio Galloni’s notes.
2016 Château Haut-Bailly, Cru Classé, Pessac-Léognan
£500 per 6 bottle case in bond
(96-98) points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Haut Bailly is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc picked between 26 September until 18 October. Coming in with 13.6% alcohol and an IPT of 81, which is quite close to 2010, this was quite closed at first and so I allowed my sample 15-20 minutes to open while discussing the vintage with Véronique Sanders and technical manager, Gabriel Vialard. It has a classic bouquet that is certainly less opulent and extravagant than recent vintages. This is more controlled and focused, beautifully delineated with blackberry, cedar and Earl Grey aromas that gently waft from the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine-grain tannin, sappy with superb delineation and real weight and presence in the mouth. There is just the right amount of spice and salinity, the latter beckoning you back for another sip and there is a haunting pencil lead note that forms the closing credits on the aftertaste. What a brilliant Haut-Bailly, perhaps the best that I have tasted in almost 20 years of tasting at this estate. Drink 2024 to 2060.
(98-99) points, James Suckling, jamessuckling.com
This young wine shows such pinpoint precision with a full body, dense fruit and gorgeous intensity. Muscular yet toned and beautiful. It really builds on the finish. Very fine-grained. So long and beautiful. Sophisticated power. Oyster shell and iodine undertones. Traditional style yet with a modern interpretation. Savory.
(94-97+) points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com
The 2016 Haut-Bailly is a huge, powerful wine that explodes in all directions. Black cherry, smoke, tobacco, licorice, menthol, incense and gravel are all pushed forward, but it is the wine's volume and pure intensity that stand out most. Readers will have to be patient, as the 2016 is likely to be a slow-maturing wine, but even today the phenomenal finish is a marvel. The 2016 is a great Haut-Bailly in the making. It will reward several decades of cellaring.
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