2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report – Episode 21 – Haut-Bailly

2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report

Episode 21 – Haut-Bailly

2020 Château Haut-Bailly Rouge, Pessac-Léognan

52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot

50% new oak

Harvested between 9th – 25th September. 

Véronique Sanders told me that in the past, so-called ‘great vintages’ used to come from relatively ‘easy’ years, and while the last three Bordeaux vintages have certainly made a number of truly great wines, the vintage conditions have been anything but easy.  The 2020 vintage has been both a personal and professional challenge with the small matter of a global pandemic wreaking havoc all over the world and even in this noble wine region, so Véronique has dedicated her 2020s to her ‘courageous’ Haut Bailly and Le Pape teams.  This is a delicious Haut-Bailly with a thrilling perfume of perfectly ripe grapes and discreet leaf details.  The oak is firm and it buttresses the dense, dark fruit beautifully.  Bold, regal and amazingly well-balanced considering its powerful stance, this is a long, fine wine with lip-smacking tannins and a welcoming kick of brightness and joy right on the finish.  While the overall tone is of a contemplative soul as opposed to an extrovert, this is a delicious Haut-Bailly and when you dive into the serene black fruit and allow your palate to swim around its cathedral-like caverns of flavour there is a stunning sensation of freshness when you eventually come up for air.   This is a wine that will be sure to open and reveal itself younger in its life than the past handful of vintages but I venture its staying power will be extraordinary, too.  19+/20

2020 Haut-Bailly II, Pessac-Léognan (2nd wine of Haut-Bailly)

54% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon

Harvested between 9th – 25th September. 

This is a more expressive wine than its Grand Vin in one key respect – the initial, overt fruit expression is more ostentatious than that of its parent.  Beyond this exciting overture, it doesn’t have the overall depth of the Grand Vin and the oak is a little strident right now but this is every inch a stunning second wine and it just needs time for the tannins to melt away before true balance is achieved.  With a red-fruited allure alongside the deeper, darker tones, as well as toasty notes fighting for attention, this HBII which will gradually emerge after a decade of slumber and no doubt shock us all with its exceptional poise and nobility.  17.5+/20

2020 Château Le Pape Rouge, Pessac-Léognan 

80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon

Merlot was harvested between 9th – 11th & 15th September.  Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested on 25th September.

This is a crunchy, tense Le Pape and it is built for the medium term so please don’t open a bottle before at least seven or eight years of age.  The fruit is deep and a touch closed right now and there are fine-grained tannins here, too, but they are balanced and I like the fact that there are brief flashes of mulberry and plum notes in among the darker fruit tones.  This is a lovely wine and it will open gradually over the next decade.  17+/20

Scores – I have attached my scores out of 20 for each wine.  If a score has no ‘+’, this indicates a wine that is in balance and can be drunk relatively young thanks to its precocity and charm. One ‘+’ indicates a wine that will benefit from medium-term ageing (in accordance with the style of the wine), while two ‘++’ indicates a wine that should manage to make the long haul, softening and evolving as it goes.