This is an outstanding 2006, and arguably better than this château's 2005. It combines the usual elegant breeding that we expect from this superb terroir with a larger structure than has previously been apparent. Beyond the relative simplicity of the pure red fruit, the real essence of this wine lies in its secondary complexity and finely chiselled features. Fine terroir is clear on the nose; the palate is focussed, the tannins well-honed and silky; considerable expansion on mid-palate through flavours of olive tapenade, rabbit stew, soft oak and tobacco, then caramel, finishing on a pure note of very ripe cassis. Bravo!
A recent tour of Haut Bailly’s splendid new cellars rekindled our passion for these wines. The charming Veronique Sanders, the fourth generation of the Sanders clan to manage the estate, gave us a guided tour, and what a cellar it is. Blending into the surroundings with its camouflaged, living roof, this is both state of the art and sympathetic to the rolling vineyards of Leognan. It has also had an immediate effect on the wines. The challenging 2021 season has resulted in a triumph.
From the herb garden atop the cellar, one can survey the 30 hectares of vines. Although this is comprised of one block, this can be split up into 52 individual parcels. The new winery affords Veronique and her team the ability to vinify plot by plot. A terroir of predominantly gravel, sandstone, and sand over limestone, is planted with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and the balance Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Carmenere. Most of the vineyards are exactly as they were when the estate was founded in 1630, with just two small additions in 1958 and 2005. Much of the rootstock was planted by Daniel Sanders (Veronique’s grandfather), but there is one parcel with vines dating back to the turn of the 20th century, reputedly some of the oldest vines in Leognan.
2021 marks a new and exciting chapter for Haut Bailly. The chateau looks well placed to continue the good work of the late ‘Bob’ Wilmers, both protecting its environment and its future.