Gabriel Vialard, Technical Director of Haut Bailly, explaining the 2015 vintage.
Barrel room at Haut Bailly
Perenially trailing behind both Left and Right Banks in popularity for Bordeaux customers, the Pessac Leognan growing area has been experiencing a resurgence as of late and many insiders believe the 2015 vintage is a proof of that.
Chateaux Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion, both properties belonging to the descendants of Clarence Dillon, once Ambassador of the USA to France, are sure bets to be in everybody’s top ten every year, but now estates like Smith Haut Lafitte, Pape Clement, Haut Bailly, Branon and quite a few others are distinguishing themselves with outstanding reds. In white production, look for Malartic La Graviere, Domaine de Chevalier, Chateaux Smith Haut Lafitte and Haut Bergey to produce majestic, fresh wines.
2015 was an extremely successful vintage in Pessac Leognan. While extreme summer heat was worrisome, the water table ( high because of heavier rainfalls in the 2 previous years ) was quite sufficcient to relieve the water-starved vines. The dry summer also stopped vegetative growth , allowing for maximum ripeness.
At Smith Haut Lafitte, the wine is dark with ripe fruit and exudes aromas of spices, cedar, licorice, and violet. This 63% Cabernet, 33% Merlot and 2% each of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc blend is oustanding and the Cathiard family is celebrating that new harvest, their 25th with a new bottling..looking forward to having that in my stash!
At Domaine de Chevalier, the production is somewhat small due to tiny berries with thick skin. However, the Domain is quite pleased as the gravelly soils have brought about freshness and the acidity in the wine is quite magnificent. Varietal blend is 65% Cabernet, 30% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot.
Malartic La Graviere, with consulting oenologist Michel Rolland at the helm, is another top producer this year. Their blend is of 53% Cabernet, 33% Merlot, the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.
The very best wine and candidate for wine of the vintage: Chateau Haut Bailly!
A real tour de force from this estate: the picked berries look uniformly perfect, like caviar eggs. Their aromas are of black truffles, cigar box and graphite. Instead of the massive blockbusters some folks have produced in 2015, this wine exudes enough tension to make it exceptional. One can guess that when it evolves into a mature product, it will offer layer after layer of interest and pleasure. Bravo, Veronique Sanders (Estate Manager) and Gabriel Vialard (Technical Director)!