Château Haut-Batailley: Tasting & Drinking

I have long held a sneaking admiration for the wines of Château Haut-Batailley. This estate has an established reputation as one of the more affordable cru classé wines, and provided the wines were allowed to develop into maturity they provided very satisfactory drinking, and they were also excellent value for money. They certainly wiped the floor with the wines of its sibling, Château Batailley.

Nowadays, neither of these descriptions ring totally true. The wines remain at the more affordable end of the spectrum, certainly, although they are more expensive than they were. Whereas they were once a ‘no-brainer’ purchase, such a move requires more careful consideration now. And these price rises come in the face of maintained but not hugely improved quality. Whereas I seem to enjoy the wines of Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste more and more with every passing vintage – especially the stunning, pure and precise 2010 – the wines of Château Haut-Batailley seems to have tread water a little. I often wondered whether the estate did not received the same attention as François-Xavier Borie’s other, more famous charge.

Secondly, this situation is in contrast to that found at Château Batailley, where the Castéja family have been pushing up quality. Whereas I once described Château Batailley as ‘tweedy’ – entirely appropriately at the time, I think – such a description would perhaps not be so apt now. Indeed, quality is high and prices remain low, and as a consequence many fans of Bordeaux are now adding cases of Château Batailley to their en primeur purchase in the same manner that happened with Château Haut-Batailley ten or fifteen years ago.

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