|5ème Cru Classé
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot. Very dark purple colour. Plush velvet feel - lots of fine tannin that tautens, very typical of a limestone-grown wine, a drive and energy, it will open up but not too quickly. Drinking range: 2025 - 2040 Rating: 90-92 L&S (Apr 2017)
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The 2016 Haut Bages Libéral is lively and detailed on the nose, the aromas springing up from the glass suggesting black currant, raspberry, cedar and graphite. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained, quite pliant tannins and good acidity. Smooth, harmonious and surprisingly approachable. Though you could broach this in a couple of years, it has the substance to give a few decades of drinking pleasure. Tasted blind at the Southwold tasting. Drinking range: 2023 - 2045 Rating: 91 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Aug 2020)
The 2016 Le Haut-Médoc Haut-Bages Libéral is bright, floral and fruity, all of which make it an excellent choice for drinking now and over the next handful of years, while the fruit retains its youthful vibrancy. Drinking range: 2018 - 2024 Rating: 87 Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com (Jan 2019)
The 2016 Haut Bages Liberal has a very focused and much more sumptuous bouquet than in previous years, thankfully without dispensing any of its character. It just seems more confident on the nose. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, pretty blackberry and boysenberry fruit laced with a touch of oyster shell, sashaying towards a quite elegant finish with admirable depth. You would not describe this as a potentially exciting Pauillac, but I suspect it will be delicious once in bottle. Drinking range: 2021 - 2042 Rating: 90-92 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (Apr 2017)
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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