|Classification||5ème Cru Classé|
This is slightly monobloc as usual, firmly tannic, but with enough dark Cabernet fruit. Just showing slightly oaky here, but this is good. Claire Villars told us something I did not know, which is that while the portion of the vineyard at Bages is obviously on gravel (like Lynch Bages), the part around the château by Latour has chalk under it. This helps to explain to me the distinctive tightness of the Cabernet in this wine. Rating: 91-92 L&S (Apr 2016)
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The tannins are a little firm at the moment, but this is only an eight month old Pauillac after all. There’s plenty of stuffing behind the wood: plum, blackberry and cassis with some liquorice and wood smoke. Drinking range: 2022 - 2028 Rating: 91 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com (May 2016)
Here I find some pointed black cherry fruit, perfumed, quite pretty, with a sweet damson character. The palate is completely wrapped up in oaky lactones, with a rather firm substance, a moderate texture, and a ripe, lightly chewy grip. This is fairly grippy, with a low key fruit character. But at least the tannins add a sense of ripeness and charm. Rating: 14-15/20 Chris Kissack, www.thewinedoctor.com (Apr 2016)
Bright crimson. Hint of wood shavings on the nose and then rather aggressively sweet, gamey palate. Very chunky and unintegrated at the moment. Really quite awkward. Drinking range: 2024 - 2034 Rating: 16 Jancis Robinson OBE MW - www.JancisRobinson.com (Apr 2016)
Château Haut Bages Libéral
Pauillac Cinquième cru 1855 Château Haut Bages Libéral sits nearly atop the hill to the south of the hamlet of Bages - hence the name, Haut Bages - seperated by a country lane from Château Latour. The estate was owned by the Libéral family during the 18th Century, hence the last part of the name. Despite being surrounded by illustious neighbours - aside from Latour to the immediate south, Haut Bages Libéral can also count the two Pichons as "next door" - achieving 5th Growth status in 1855 seems to have been a bit of a high point as a century of typically Bordelais decline followed. In 1960 the Cruse family took control and, apart from cleaving off a portion of vineyards and handing them over to Château Pontet-Canet, the fortunes of Haut Bages Libéral began to improve. The Cruse family were forced to sell in 1982 and Château Haut Bages Libéral became part of the Merlaut family's Taillan Group, which includes Chasse Spleen and Gruaud Larose. The 28ha of vineyard are planted to 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot. The wine is fermented in stainless steel before spending 16 months in wood (40% new). Whilst not living up to the greatest heights of its neighbour Latour, Haut Bages Libéral offers some very good value for a really well-made Pauillac.
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