Spotlight on… Château haut-bailly 2014

29-Mar-2017


Spotlight on… Château haut-bailly 2014

THE APPELLATION AND CLASSIFICATION

Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé

THE COMPOSITION

Cabernet Sauvignon 66%, Merlot 34%,

THE CRITICS’ VIEWS

91-93/100, The Wine Advocate

93-94/100, James Suckling

17.5+/20, Jancis Robinson

THE RELEASE PRICE

Château Haut-Bailly 2014 was released in May 2015 at €43.20 per bottle, with a UK price of £415 per dozen.

THE CURRENT MARKET PRICE

Haut-Bailly 2014 has appreciated +35.66% since release, currently valued at £563 per dozen.

COMPARABLE VINTAGES & OUTLOOK

Despite the promise of the haut-bailly 2014 vintage and Neal Martin (Wine Advocate) noting that he “expect(s) this to land at the top of my banded score”, this top score of 93 points falls below a number of recent bottlings. These vintages, such as the 96 point (WA) 2012 vintage, valued at £592 per dozen, the 96 point 2008 vintage (£625), and the 94+ point 2011 vintage valued lower at £540, suggest there is greater quality to price ratio, value and potential to be found elsewhere in the market. Outside of general market uplift, the 2014 vintage appears to offer limited further upside potential. That is, unless scores increase with time in bottle, as has happened on more than a few occasions over recent vintages.

The 2012 and 2011 vintages seem to offer much greater hope. Additionally, the 2013 vintage, despite the poor nature of the vintage, offers a comparable Wine Advocate score of 91-93, whilst it is only valued at £411. Or, a significant 26.99% discount on the 2014. Due to the unattractive nature of the 2013 vintage, current demand is lacking. However, this is certainly a vintage to be watched as it matures and, subsequently, demand likely increases. On paper, it offers the best potential for reward.

THE CHÂTEAU

The property’s history dates back further than most Bordelaise Chateaux, when there was an influx of plantings in the 17th Century and onwards. The first vines at the property now known as Haut-Bailly were planted around the 1460s. In 1530, the Goyaneche and Daitze families increased their vineyard holdings, to produce a vineyard of commercial potential. In 1630, the property was purchased by the Le Bailly family (from which the property took its name) and wine trader Nicolas de Leuvarde. Subsequently, quality increased and Haut-Bailly started building a firm reputation.

One of the most prominent changes of ownership came about in 1872, when Alcide Bellot des Minieres took the reigns. Des Mininieres was instrumental in constructing the Château, as it stands today, and making Haut-Bailly one of the only properties to avoid using phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks after the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th Century. Whilst the vast majority of other properties had grafted their European vines onto US rootstocks, de Minieres uplifted and replanted non-grafted European vines and treated them with a copper and sulphate solution, later down the line to be called Bordeaux Mixture/Blend, with the belief that grafting would be detrimental to the wine’s quality. When the vines started producing significant crops again, Haut-Bailly started building a reputation as one of the best properties in Bordeaux, with prices on par with the First Growths until the 1920s.

Subsequent years proved detrimental to the vineyards, unfortunately coming into disrepair. In the 1950s, Daniel Sanders purchased Haut-Bailly, renovating the estate. This continued through the ownership of his son, Jean in the 1980s and his daughter, Veronique in the years that followed, in her directorial role. 1998 saw the family sell to the US banker Robert G.Wilmers, with the prime directive of a no-expense-spared drive for quality. Veronique Sanders remains at the property until this day. Over the past 15 years, quality has once again risen significantly, drawing praise from the trade and critics; most notably Robert Parker, who has helped put the property into the limelight once again.

THE VINTAGE

After a cool, wet and ultimately challenging 2013, the 2014 vintage, despite changeable climatic conditions, proved to be a very good vintage throughout much of Bordeaux. A warm, sunny April encouraged early budbreak. Flowering was hindered by a cool, damp May, lowering yields, but simultaneously raising potential quality. June and July offered lengthy periods of warmth and sunshine, whilst August was cooler and cloudier than average, slowing ripening. The outlook was less than promising. However, an Indian Summer followed, with warm sunshine until the end of October. This, and sufficient ground water remaining after a changeable summer, provided ideal conditions for ripening. Perfect conditions remained throughout harvest, culminating in the most promising vintage since 2010. Haut-Bailly 2014 was harvested between 24th September and 15th November.