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Haut Bailly 2009

Grape VarietyCabernet Sauvignon/Merlot

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Tasting Notes

I have had this wine now four separate times since I wrote my official review after bottling of the 2009s. It goes from strength to strength, and it is not surprising that it is now one of the perfect wines of this great, great vintage - the finest vintage of Bordeaux that I have tasted in 37 years covering that epicenter for world-class quality in wine. Much of it is attributable to winemaker Véronique Sanders and her boss, Robert Wilmers. Their incredibly draconian selection process and their enormous investments in both the viticulture and the estate as well as the winemaking facility have paid off brilliantly over the last decade. The 2009, which has an opaque ruby/purple color, an extraordinary nose of high-quality unsmoked cigar tobacco, graphite, blackcurrants and spice, hits the palate with a medium to full-bodied, saturated and rich mouthfeel, but an elegant and ethereal quality that is difficult to articulate. It is rich, complex and tastes as if it were the vinous equivalent of a remarkable haute couture creation from the late Coco Chanel. It is full-bodied yet elegant, powerful yet delicate, and remarkably velvety-textured, sumptuous and loaded with upside potential. It can be approached now, as most 2009s tend to be, given their richness of fruit, low acidity and extraordinary concentration, but the great complexity that will emerge from this fabulous terroir is at least a decade away, and this wine is set for 50 or more years of longevity. Kudos to Haut-Bailly! Drink 2015-2065

Robert Parker, RobertParker.com, April 2015

The 2009 Haut-Bailly has an opaque ruby/purple color, a beautiful nose of lead pencil shavings, crème de cassis, blackberry and plum, followed by an intense, super-concentrated mouthfeel that is expansive and savory, with beautifully integrated tannins and low acidity, as most wines in this vintage possess. There is still plenty of freshness and liveliness from this great terroir. The finish goes on for close to a minute and the wine, while still a young pre-adolescent in terms of its evolution, is absolutely spectacularly complex and enjoyable already.

Robert Parker, Hedonists Gazette, November 2014

A dense ruby/purple-tinged color offers up notes of forest floor, subtle wood smoke, mulberries, black cherries, cassis and a hint of lead pencil shavings. There is even a floral component lurking in the intricate aromatic profile. The wine is medium to full-bodied with wonderful intensity that builds incrementally and has a long, silky, luscious finish. There is plenty of tannin, but it is largely concealed by the wine's beautiful fruit and ethereal complexity. Given its virtually perfect balance, this brilliant Haut-Bailly should age effortlessly for 3-4 decades.

This is a tour de force in winemaking, particularly for readers seeking the quintessential example of a Bordeaux that combines compelling complexity and finesse with significant flavor authority and intensity. I suppose we could see this coming as American owner, Robert Wilmers, along with his winemaker/manager, Veronique Sanders, continue to push the envelope. Yields were extremely low in 2009, and the final blend was an intriguing concoction of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. It came in just under 14% natural alcohol, which makes it among one of the more powerful Haut-Baillys produced. However, power is not the hallmark of this wine. This terroir is known to produce relatively light wines, and by reducing yields and picking riper fruit, Wilmers and Sanders have achieved a level of concentration and intensity that is unprecedented for Haut-Bailly. That said, they have not lost any of these wines' stunning elegance, finesse or aromatic complexity.

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, March 2012

The greatest Haut-Bailly ever made? One can't speak enough of the job Veronique Sanders has done in 2009, allied with the owner, the American banker Robert Wilmers, who has given her carte blanche authority. Tiny yields have resulted in the most concentrated Haut-Bailly I have ever tasted. Eclipsing even the 2005, the 2009 (a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc) possesses 13.9% natural alcohol. Dense purple to the rim, it exhibits a precise, nuanced nose of mulberries, black cherries, black currants, graphite, and a singular floral component. A wine of profound intensity and full-bodied power, yet stunningly elegant, and never heavy or massive, it builds incrementally on the palate, and the finish lasts over 45 seconds. Remarkably, there is not a hard edge to be found in this beauty. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were harvested between October 7 and 14, which explains their phenolic maturity. The wine's extraordinary freshness, elegance, and precision are nearly surreal. This tour de force should age brilliantly for 40+ years. (Tasted two times.) Drink 2010-2050.

Robert Parker added an asterisk to this wine score to signify that it is a wine he considers has the finest potential of all the offerings he has ever tasted from this estate in nearly 32 years of barrel tasting samples in Bordeaux.

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (188), April 2010

The 2009 Haut-Bailly has a very pure bouquet with blackberry, liquorice, hints of star anise and boysenberry jam, opulent and vivacious, a little glossy perhaps? The palate is medium-bodied with very supple and lithe tannin matched with a fine bead of acidity. Lovely balance here, fine tension with a insistent grip, layers of black fruit laced with cedar and graphite towards the very Pauillac-like finish. Superb. 2022 - 2045

Neal Martin, vinous.com, March 2019

Tasted at the chateau, the sample taken 16th March from a pre-blend of the Merlot and three lots of Cabernet (probably no pressed wine this year) and a second sample at a negociant. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc with 55% new barrels. A very deep garnet/black colour. This has a very refined nose of blackcurrant, raspberry, wild hedgerow, a nice minerality all with very good delineation but very tightly wound at the moment: this really does demand coaxing from the glass. With further aeration, that minerality is really coming through nicely (much more so than at the chateau!) The palate is full-bodied with a soft entry, grippy tannins, structure on the entry, dense black ripe fruit with an underlying stoniness. It is the follow through, like a wave crashing onto the back palate that really marks this wine out, with very fine persistency and minerality towards the finish. Silky and slightly creamy in texture towards the finish. Superb. Tasted April 2010.

Neal Martin, RobertParker.com, April 2010

Medium to deep garnet colored, the 2009 Haut-Bailly hits the ground running with bold black fruit preserves, Morello cherries, baked blueberries and tilled earth scents with nuances of fried herbs, chargrilled meat and a ferrous waft plus a touch of menthol. Medium to full-bodied, the taut palate has a firm, grainy texture with a lively line lifting the core of muscular fruit, finishing long and earthy. 2019-2044

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (March 2019), March 2019

Aromas of blackberries, wet earth and mushrooms, follow through to a full body, with a solid core of fruit. Velvety and delicious, yet wonderfully structured. Muscular wine. Best ever? Try in 2018.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, February 2012

From Robert Parker's Hong Kong Tasting, 8th Nov 2011:
Aromas of mineral and dark fruits follow through to a full body, with hints of chocolate and vanilla. Lots of wood right now, but firm and racy. Lovely fruit with a long finish. This is tight but showing wonderful balance. Try in 2016

James Suckling, Wine Advocate, November 2011

Lovely sweet berry and plum aromas, with hints of sandalwood and cedar. Full-bodied, with milk chocolate, berry and vanilla bean character. Thick and dense tannins, but balanced and very pretty. Sneaks up on you. Really powerful in tannins. This could be better than the fab 2005. 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 37 percent Merlot and 3 percent Cabernet Franc.

James Suckling, WineSpectator.com, April 2010

Firm, aromatic. Certainly not forced and nicely balanced but I think I stick with my initial impressions that this is not an absolute standout - just very respectable indeed, as usual.

Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com, April 2010

65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot. Veronique Sanders has quietly been producing very classy wines here in recent years that don't necessarily show off when tasted from barrel. The 1998 was outstanding at a blind tasting and the 2003, 2004 and 2005 have all impressed us recently. Powerful nose, silky structure, fine weight and balance. Red fruits. Quite refined. Long, lingering finish. Classy.

Farr Vintners, April 2010

The mix of blackberry and cassis has a spiciness, a floral gravely freshness. Powerful flavours flesh out the start of the palate with blackcurrant enriched by coffee and liquorice. The tannins are structured but feel ripe supporting and are in no way aggressive. The freshness of the fruit towards the back gives a lighter racier more elegant feel. Drink 2025-2050.

Derek Smedley MW, April 2010

This is the most alcoholic wine there has even been at Haut-Bailly apparently (they should talk to producers on the Right Bank), but it is still a very harmonious wine, using its Cabernet Sauvignon for backbone as well as elegance. Cedar wood and cassis notes are underpinned by fine tannins and palate-cleansing acidity. One of the best wines in the appellation. 10+ years.

Tim Atkin MW, April 2010

Dense purple red, quite rich cassis fruit with fragrant wild roses concentration, great clarity, depth and precision over succulently ripe vineyard fruit, still quite reserved, a wine of undeniable beauty and class. Drink 2015-30.

Steven Spurrier, Decanter.com, April 2010
Please note that these tasting notes/scores are not intended to be exhaustive and in some cases they may not be the most recently published figures. However, we always do our best to add latest scores and reviews when these come to our attention. We advise customers who wish to purchase wines based simply on critical reviews to carry out further research into the latest reports.