Château Haut-Bailly Retrospective, 2013

I pulled into the parking area at Château Haut-Bailly and nudged the car into a space at the far end. Having just left a tasting at Château Olivier, which along with Château Brown is sandwiched between the suburbs of Gradignan, Villenave d’Ornon and Léognan, just a few kilometres from Château Haut-Bailly, I had only been in the car for a few minutes. Nevertheless, during that short journey what had been a light drizzle on leaving Olivier had grown into a quasi-biblical downpour. I had no desire for a soaking, and so had chosen a parking space as close to the bureau as possible. One short dash later and I was inside (just in case your curiosity is piqued by the blue skies shown below, I confess I have used some images taken on a previous visit to Haut-Bailly).

I introduced myself to a member of staff, who was obviously expecting me; this was reassuring, as it meant I must have turned up on the correct day, not something I achieved a 100% success rate during this years primeurs tastings in Bordeaux. But that’s a story for another time. I was shown through to an old barrel cellar, on the way squeezing past fifteen-or-so members of the wine trade (or possibly enthusiastic drinkers of Bordeaux, although I would guess the former), all from Asia. This was a strong theme at the Bordeaux 2012 tastings, where I encountered more Asian visitors than ever before, all obviously keen to taste the wines for themselves before placing their orders. In the background, Chinese investors continue to snap up ‘minor’ châteaux in Bordeaux, at the rate, so the reports go, of one per month. These numbers and experiences are not easily squared against continued claims that the Asian love affair with Bordeaux is over, and that they have now turned to Burgundy or other regions instead. Interest seems to be waxing, not waning, although perhaps buying is becoming more discriminatory?

Château Haut-Bailly, Fifteen Years

Anyway, I digress. Having been shown into the old barrel cellar I was greeted by Véronique Sanders, manager of Château Haut-Bailly. I was here not to taste the 2012 barrel sample (although I certainly wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to take another look) but for a fifteen-vintage vertical tasting. This isn’t something the team at Haut-Bailly put on every year, but was a special one-off event to celebrate the fifteen years that had passed since Robert Wilmers, an American banker, purchased the château and estate from the Sanders family.

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