Bordeaux 2018: Batailley, Sociando Mallet and Haut Bages Liberal

Bordeaux 2018: Batailley, Sociando Mallet and Haut Bages Liberal
Bordeaux chateaux are creatures of habit. Looking back at last year’s releases, the front running was made by Branaire Ducru and Langoa Barton, swiftly followed by Capbern, then Batailley and Sociando Mallet. Again, the Castéja family and Jean Gautreau are keen to test the waters early in the campaign.

We have spoken about the developments at Batailley in the past. The creation of a second wine, Lions de Batailley has bolstered the Grand Vin, lending it greater concentration and a more refined tannic profile without losing its traditional Pauillac charm. 2018 is an excellent example, there is a plushness, almost a decadence to the fruit that leads to well measured tannins with lingering flavours of dark cassis and graphite. It doesn’t possess the finesse and complexity of the greatest wines of Pauillac, but there is much to admire. It will certainly be one of the best value wines from this most distinguished commune.

“The 2018 Batailley is deep garnet-purple in color and offers up bright Morello cherries, black raspberries and redcurrant notes over a cassis and plum preserves core with a waft of dried mint. Full-bodied with a good core of juicy fruit, it has approachable, ripe tannins and a lively lift to the finish. 92-94/100”. – Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate

Sociando Mallet is a perennial overachiever. Despite its lowly classification, this estate has one of the great terroirs in the Medoc, overlooking the vast Gironde estuary. Some have drawn parallels with the soils of Latour and Montrose in the past. We only sampled this once at a negociant’s tasting and we didn’t feel it was a representative sample. It certainly wasn’t a joy to taste primeur, but this chateau has an impressive track record and usually astonishes us when in bottle.

And last but by no means least, we are pleased to offer Claire Villars Lurton’s Haut Bages Liberal. If Sociando Mallet is a perennial overachiever, Haut Bages Liberal is a perennial frustration. Its three vineyards are next to Latour, Pichon Comtesse (both close to the Gironde) and one further inland next to Grand Puy Lacoste. With all these great gravel sites and the expertise of Eric Boissenot, one would expect, well, greatness. More often than not we are left disillusioned. However, 2018 is the first time in many years that found ourselves rather enamoured with HBL. So it seems was Mr James Suckling…

“A fantastic wine with lovely depth of ripe fruit and transparency and beauty. Full bodied. Succulent and rich tannins to the gorgeous fruit. From biodynamically grown grapes. 96-97/100”. – James Suckling, jamessuckling.com