Wines from Château Haut–Bailly
Saving the Original Bordeaux Vines in the Story
Château Haut–Bailly has a history of vines that were cultivated as far back as the 1460’s when the land was then known as the “Pujau”.
This translates to “small height” emphasising its topography and terroir.
The Pessac Leognan is in the northern part of the Graves which is known for its fantastic terroir and the production of red and white wines.
This region has a long winemaking history and the gravel soil is wonderful terrain for vine growing.
It was not until 1530 that this modern Bordeaux truly began to take its shape when the Goyaneche and then the Daitze family purchased the land which we know as the Graves Appellation today.
By the late 1600’s this estate became so popular that it was one of the first chateau’s to begin selling specific vintages and it was then that Firmin Le Bailly and Nicolas de Leuvarde, a banker and a wine merchant from Paris that admired the wines from the Graves, bought the property from the heir of Gaillard Daitze.
The property consisted of 36 hectares of vines and naturally the name was taken from Firmin Le Bailly, who passed away and left it to his family, but they were to sell the estate to settle debts that had incurred over the years and the chateau passed through many more owners before it was purchased by vintner named Alcide Bellot des Miniers in 1872.
This engineer built the chateau and planted vines, but at this time most of the Bordeaux appellation and Europe were hit by the phylloxera epidemic which destroyed the vines.
Most vintners in the region discovered phylloxera proofed root systems from America that they applied to their farms, but Alcide did not follow the trend as he believed that this would defame the character and quality of the Bordeaux wines.
Instead, he persisted and mixed blends of Bordeaux vines, cleaning them with a mixture of copper and sulphate which was used to wash each and every vine and it was then that he gained the reputation of producing the best quality wines in the Bordeaux, increasing the value of his products.
Alcide died in 1906 and the property was inherited by his daughter but she sold it as quickly as she could to Daniel Sanders a Belgian wine merchant who had his work cut out for him as the estate was in bad shape and the vineyards were very few with only 15 hectares of vines.
He then renovated the facilities, vineyard and the cellar and in 1979 his son Jean took over and by 1988 the estate was fully refurbished and renovated. Veronique Sanders took over as director of the estate and it was then that the production of wines became one of the best.
In 1998 a banker from America Robert Wilmers and his French wife, Elisabeth bought the estate from the Sanders family and renovated and replanted vineyards and with the fourth generation Veronique Sanders worked closely together to produce wines of great quality which was truly only recognised by 2005.
The vines are at the average age of 35 years and 15% of the vineyard is almost 100 years old with vines that are 120 years old, dating back to the 18th century and they are the oldest in the Bordeaux region.
Malbec and Calmanere are included in this vine plantation alongside the other varieties.
The vinification process is parcel by parcel and takes place in thermo regulated cement vats in a variety of sizes, helping the precision on a plot by plot basis as well as the “Cube” which removes the grapes stems.
Fermentation takes up to three weeks and malolactic fermentation takes place in the barrels.
The wine is then aged in 50 to 60% new French oak barrels for 16 to 18 months, depending on the vintage.
The chateau does mostly red wines and has 3 different cellars for the ageing process done in barrels.
Along with the vintages produced by the chateau, Haut – Bailly has their Grande Cru Classe wine; Chateau Haut – Bailly, Rose de Haut- Bailly, La Parde Haut – Bailly, a third wine, Chateau Le Pape produced in 1967 as a second wine and Pessac – Leognan, named after the estate purchased in 2012.
Wines that have Stood the Test of Time
2014 Chateau Haut- Bailly has the aromas of slow smoked plum, anise and black cherry liquor with a dark blackberry and plum finish
2012 La Parde de Haut – Bailly is a medium bodied wine hinting tobacco, cherry and oak
Rose de Haut – Bailly has been around since 2004 and is a lively and seductive 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Rose blend.
Visit Château Haut–Bailly
If you love wine and the history of the vines then this is a great place to see how determination and passion led to the development of the original Bordeaux wines and you are able to do a guided tour of the vineyards where you will get to see the 120 year old vines that are still used today, you could probably have a taste experience and if you get too tired then you are able to stay over and soak up the entire history of the Chateau Haut – Bailly.
Tours and Events
Read more about vineyard tour.
103 Avenue de Cadaujac
33850 Léognan Bordeaux, France
Editor-in-Chief and Wine Writer
Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂