Five Vintages of Château Barde-Haut, 2018

In the far-flung reaches of St Emilion’s eastern vineyards lies Château Barde-Haut. A long-established estate that first appeared in Cocks et Féret in the late-19th century, its modern era began when it was acquired in 2000 by the Garcin-Cathiard family. The new proprietor was Sylvaine Garcin-Cathiard, the brother of Daniel Cathiard, who had just bought Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte a few years earlier.

It is fair to say that under the aegis of this family the domaine has been revitalised. The cellars, which had only just been renovated in 1997, with new cement vats and a gravity-transport system, were overhauled yet again, in 2002, and then again in readiness for the 2012 reworking of the St Emilion classification. This latter reincarnation of the cellars, overseen by Sylvaine’s daughter Hélène Garcin-Lévêque (pictured below) who runs the estate today, involved the erection of a striking complex of buildings built from oxidised steel, their deep, rust-coloured hue a stark contrast against the slopes of verdant green vines and lime-white soils behind. Built with the environment in mind, the new build included an electricity-generating wind turbine which wouldn’t look out of place in America’s Midwest, along with solar panels, a rainwater recycling system, an insulating grass-covered roof and a heat-exchange system. This is modern, ecologically sensitive winemaking.

Château Barde-Haut

Of course it is not just the buildings at Château Barde-Haut that boast a very modern style, so too does the wine. These are wines with voluptuous textures in their youth, which show diffuse and occasionally smudged fruit flavours backed up with tannin and oak. These characteristics tend to show through more as the wines age, the softly textured palate in combination with sur-mature fruit and the oak-derived flavours of leather, cinnamon and cloves presenting a distinctly modern face to the drinker.

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