97 Points: 2018 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal Grand Cru Classe Pauillac

Château Haut-Bages Libéral is in an exclusive category in the wine world. It’s one of just 18 estates honored as a Fifth Growth in the 1855 Bordeaux classification. But the Libéral family’s wine history predates that honor. The family began as négociants in the 1700s, passing the business from father to son. When they purchased the property that is now Château Haut-Bages Libéral, the family’s reputation for excellence was well-known, eventually earning the estate its respected classification.
Today, Château Haut-Bages Libéral is owned by Claire Villars-Lurton whose family purchased it in the early 1980s. Claire and her husband Gonzague Lurton also own Château Domeyne in Saint-Estèphe and Northern California’s Trinité Estate. Gonzague also owns Château Durfort-Vivens, a Second Classified Growth in Margaux.
In 2019, Claire achieved organic and biodynamic certification for all 74 acres of the estate’s vineyards, including the ones next to next to the famed First Growth Château Latour and Second Groth Château Pichon Lalande. 
Between the vineyards’ deep gravel over limestone and clay soils, the meticulous care of the terroir, and a vintage that James Suckling called “exceptional” and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave it an enthusiastic 96 points, this wine is a stunner. And, something new for this vintage: 2018 is the first year that Château Haut-Bages Libéral chose to age 20% of the wine in amphorae. 

2016 Whitehall Lane Leonardini Estate Cabernet Sauvignon