The 2022 Haut-Bages-Libéral was picked from 6 to 26 September and is being raised in 40% new oak, plus 20% in concrete tanks and amphorae. Yields were 45hL/ha, higher than many other estates, which Clare Villars-Lurton cites as a result of their long-term application of biodynamic viticulture and use of cover crops. It has an entrancing bouquet with blackberry, briary, crushed stone and light estuarine scents, understated initially but rapidly gaining intensity. The palate is medium-bodied, fresh and saline with sculpted tannins, stunning balance and a mineral finish. This is an outstanding, vivacious 2022 from proprietor Claire Villars-Lurton.
Neal Martin, Vinous.com (April 2023)
The 2022 Haut-Bages Libéral is shaping up to be a jewel. Bright and aromatic, with notable structure, the 2022 is beautifully put together. Red/purplish fruit, rose petal, mint and blood orange all race across the palate. A wine of dynamic energy and drive, Haut-Bages Libéral is super-impressive in this tasting. I can’t wait to taste this from bottle. The blend is 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Merlot.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (April 2023)
Jane Anson, janeanson.com (May 2023)
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (April 2023)
Expressive dark-fruit aroma with notes of cassis and dark cherry. Lovely texture, the tannins silky and smooth. Fresh as well. On the fine side of Pauillac but there’s pleasure to be had here.
James Lawther MW, JancisRobinson.com (April 2023)
Lots of redcurrants and blackcurrants with some cassis as well as iron, tile, stone and hints of dried herbs. Full-bodied with lots of pretty structure and very juicy tannins. Lively and energetic. Exciting to taste. pH 3.54 and with 13.9% alcohol. From biodynamically grown grapes. From biodynamically grown grapes with Demeter certification.
James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (April 2023)
The 2022 Château Haut-Bages Libéral checks in as 87% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Merlot that will spend 16 months in 40% new French oak. It's a ripe, medium to full-bodied, balanced Pauillac with a terrific sense of elegance as well as minerality. Classic Pauillac notes of ripe black fruits, leafy tobacco, lead pencil, and spring flowers emerge from the glass, and it has ripe tannins, good acidity, and solid overall balance.
Berry Bros. & Rudd (April 2023)
About this WINE
Château Haut-Bages Libéral
Château Haut-Bages Libéral is a Fifth Growth in Pauillac owned and run by Claire Villars-Lurton and her husband Gonzague Lurton. It is one of the couple’s three Classified Growths in the Médoc with biodynamic certification, along with Château Durfort-Vivens and Château Ferrière. The 30-hectare property sits next door to Château Latour; the two are the only Pauillac estates with parcels of limestone soils, thought to lend elegance and finesse in a commune often known for power. The vineyard is planted to a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon, complemented by Merlot.
Though it has a long history, Haut-Bages Libéral has come into its own since 2000, when Claire came on board after the tragic death of her parents. Under her leadership, the property is making perhaps its best-ever wines. In the cellar, Claire works with some striking diamond-shaped amphorae, made from Limoges porcelain.
“Claire is one of the most creative and instinctive winemakers in Bordeaux, and you can really feel this now in her wines,” says Max Lalondrelle, our Bordeaux Buyer.
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 Blend
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.