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WINES BY REGION

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Chateau Haut-Bages-Liberal

hbl.jpgSuperbly sited within Pauillac, adjacent the Gironde and to the immediate north of Pichon-Lalande (and Latour)  on a gentle slope, it is surprising given its geographic location how (relatively) ordinary the wines Haut-Bages-Liberal (HBL) have been over the years.

However, it is fairer to say that the property has been consistent (if rarely outstanding) since it’s purchase in the early 1980s by Villars family (today run by Claire, along with her ‘sister’ properties in Margaux, La Gurgue and Ferriere).  Yet the last few years has seen something of a renaissance at this estate, with the wines now offering impressive quality along with their reasonable pricing.

Vineyards:hbl-vines-to-latour.jpg

As can be (just) seen in this photo with the tower of Latour in the top left corner, HBL’s vineyards run up to those of it’s illustrious neighbour.  What can’t be seen (just to the right of the photo) is that of Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande - this really is prime real estate!

Relatively small, around 30 hectares, and planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (80%) and Merlot (20%) only, the estate was completely replanted in the late 1960s, and the vines are really only now coming in to their prime.  There are a range of subsoils throughout the property’s three parcels: chalky; sandy; and stony soils.  Around 60-80 harvesters are employed during the vintage.

Winemaking:

hbl-vines-to-winery.jpgThe wine is fermented in a mix of stainless steel and concrete vats, where it remains for a little over three weeks, with no pigeage - a blanket of nitrogen is employed instead, with temperatures gradually rising to 30-31°C at the end of fermentation to maximise extraction. .  From there it is transferred into oak barrels for around 15 months, including a very small (3%) portion of American oak.  Approximately 45% being new oak each year.  Malolactic fermentations are undertaken in barrel (10% and increasing in future years) and vat.  The wine receives a light egg-white fining and is bottled unfiltered.

hbl-vats.jpg

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