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Chateau Haut Bailly

Chateau Haut Bailly

This fine old property of some 32 hectares sits in the commune of Léognan, to the south of the city of Bordeaux. In 1955 the estate was bought by Belgian wine merchant Daniel Sanders and his family, who began turning its fortunes around. It had been in particularly bad shape, after the war and Depression of the earlier half of the century. Sanders embarked on an ambitious restoration project here, overseeing a great period of prosperity and quality which continued under his son Jean from 1979.

Control of the château was threatened when some members of the family decided to sell their shares but fortuitously, in 1998, an American financier and Francophile, the late Robert G Wilmers came to the rescue with financial backing although the Sanders family remained and remain heavily involved in the day-to-day running of Haut-Bailly. Véronique Sanders is the respected general manager, ably assisted by Gabriel Vialard, the technical manager who was formerly the winemaker at Smith Haut Lafitte.

The vineyards are thought of as some of the best in the region to the east of Léognan village. They are sited on high slopes of sand and gravel on a bed of fossil-rich subsoil known as Faluns de Léognan. The vineyards are planted to 65% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot and 10% cabernet franc. After maceration the wine is matured in small oak barrels, many of which are new, for up to 18 months. In a typical vintage between 30-40% of the wine is bottled under the estate’s charming second label, La Parde de Haut-Bailly. A generic AC Pessac-Léognan is also now released in order to help retain the quality of La Parde. Unlike many other producers from Léognan, no white wine is produced here although there are a few white vines maintained in the vineyards and records show whites were in fact made here during the 18th century.

This is a château that is now fully showing its potential thanks to extra improvement since the Wilmers era of financial stability. An important geological survey of the vineyards which allowed a better understanding of the soil types as well as purchase of new equipment for the cuvérie have been recent undertakings. The harmonious, medium-bodied wines can show many-faceted aromas, rich-textured palates and considerable depth and grip with impressive consistency.

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