About this WINE
The name Batailley boasts a long and proud history. The vineyard sits on a plateau to the west of Mouton Rothschild and is planted in the classic Pauillac wine appellation proportions with Cabernet Sauvignon the dominant varietal. The name is said to derive from a "bataille" fought 600 years ago between the French and the English on the same spot as the present property.
Château Batailley is owned by Denise and Emile Castèja of the famous negociants, Borie-Manoux and it is their son Philippe who now runs the business. The 55 hectares of vineyards (Cabernet Sauvignon 70%, Merlot 25%, Cabernet Franc 3%, Petit Verdot 2%) undulate on a deep gravel bed, underpinned by a clay & limestone subsoil.
Vinification is fairly standard, with hand-harvested grapes fully de-stemmed before fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation takes place partly in tank, partly in barrel, and the wine is then aged in 225-litre barriques, 60% new, for about 16 months before bottling,
For years Batailley enjoyed a reputation as a solid, reliable , well-priced Pauillac, well –liked by the British, but rarely achieving the heights of finesse and complexity of some of the other Pauillac classed Growths. Over the last 15 years or so ,however, there appears to have been a subtle change and we have noted a much greater emphasis on the quality of the fruit. The result has been wines of decidedly more finesse, but still true to their Pauillac roots.
Château Batailley is classified as a 5ème Cru Classé and is one of the best value wines in Pauillac.
Pauillac is the aristocrat of the Médoc boasting boasting 75 percent of the region’s First Growths and with Grand Cru Classés representing 84 percent of Pauillac's production.
For a small town, surrounded by so many familiar and regal names, Pauillac imparts a slightly seedy impression. There are no grand hotels or restaurants – with the honourable exception of the establishments owned by Jean-Michel Cazes – rather a small port and yacht harbour, and a dominant petrochemical plant.
Yet outside the town, , there is arguably the greatest concentration of fabulous vineyards throughout all Bordeaux, including three of the five First Growths. Bordering St Estèphe to the north and St Julien to the south, Pauillac has fine, deep gravel soils with important iron and marl deposits, and a subtle, softly-rolling landscape, cut by a series of small streams running into the Gironde. The vineyards are located on two gravel-rich plateaux, one to the northwest of the town of Pauillac and the other to the south, with the vines reaching a greater depth than anywhere else in the Médoc.
Pauillac's first growths each have their own unique characteristics; Lafite Rothschild, tucked in the northern part of Pauillac on the St Estèphe border, produces Pauillac's most aromatically complex and subtly-flavoured wine. Mouton Rothschild's vineyards lie on a well-drained gravel ridge and - with its high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon - can produce (in its best years) Pauillac's most decadently rich, fleshy and exotic wine.
Latour, arguably Bordeaux's most consistent First Growth, is located in southern Pauillac next to St Julien. Its soil is gravel-rich with superb drainage, and Latour's vines penetrate as far as five metres into the soil. It produces perhaps the most long-lived wines of the Médoc.
Ch. Lafite-Rothschild, Ch. Latour, Ch. Mouton-Rothschild, Ch. Pichon-Longueville Baron, Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Ch. Lynch-Bages, Ch. Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Ch, Pontet-Canet, Les Forts de Latour, Ch. Haut-Batailley, Ch. Batailley, Ch. Haut-Bages Libéral.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.
Tasted at the Batailley vertical tasting at the chteau, the 2003 Batailley continues to be one of the better Left Banks of the vintage. On the nose, ripe black cherries mixed with cassis are all nicely defined and holding on to their freshness. It manifests spicy aromas, almost Moroccan-inspired, as it gradually opens in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with dense black fruit, a little tarry in texture with firm tannin considering that it is now 12 years old. You could broach this Pauillac now, but it should give another 10-12 years of pleasure without too much difficulty. Tasted April 2016.
Neal Martin - 30/06/2017
Very dark. Warm berries on the nose. Very fresh and lively for the vintage with hardly any dry tannins. Well done! Rewarding, juicy. Cool fermentation and not much extraction.
Jancis Robinson (Feb 2011)