About the Wine
Château Haut-Bages Libéral is in an exclusive category in the wine world. It’s one of just 18 estates honored as aFifth 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 Lurtonalso 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 achievedorganic 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.
The winemaking is overseen by no other than legend Eric Boissenot. Today, Eric consults at forty of the 1855 Classified estates including Lafite, Margaux, Latour, Mouton Rothschild, Leoville Las Cases, and Ducru Beaucaillou.
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 wineis a stunner. And, something new for this vintage: 2018 is the first year that Château Haut-Bages Libéral chose toage 20% of the wine in amphorae.
Aging: French oak barrels for 16 months. 40% of new oak; a portion in amphorae.
Tasting Notes: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot. A beautiful classic Bordeaux with dark fruits and violets on the nose. Rich and round blueberries and blackberries with tannins meant for aging.
Pretty blackberries, blueberries, and violets with some crushed-raspberry aromas follow through to a full body with wonderfully crafted and pure tannins that intertwine wonderfully with the blue fruit and blackberries. Long and endless. A triumph here. From biodynamically grown grapes. Try after 2026. ~ 97 James Suckling
The 2018 Haut-Bages Libéral is super-impressive right out of the gate. It shows all the depth and intensity I saw from barrel, with maybe a bit more tannic impact. Ripe red cherry, plum, orange peel, cedar and sweet spice all build in the glass. The 2018 is going to need a few years to come into its own, but it is a gorgeous Pauillac.~ 94+ Vinous
The nose is elegant, racy, and fresh and offers power, deepness as well as harmony. It reveals notes of cassis, licorice, and small notes of small bright wild blackberries associated with small touches of raspberry, Sichuan pepper, and violet as well as a discreet hint of camphor and spices. The palate is elegant, delicate, and silky and offers power (full of control and delicacy), a certain concentration, and a beautifully preserved fruit. On the palate, this wine expresses notes of bright cassis, bright cherry, and small notes of plum associated with small touches of violet, rose, bright garrigue strawberry as well as hints of black tea, licorice, a very discreet hint of tobacco, and toasted. Good length. Tannins are elegant, fine, and supple. An imperceptible hint of crushed almond in the finish/persistence. ~94 VertdeVin
Some pretty fierce tannins on display; then as it opens the emphasis goes to pencil lead and cassis. There is plenty of Pauillac character here but you have to wait for it to unfurl. Partly aged in amphorae, alongside 40% new oak. Drinking Window 2026 - 2040. ~92 Decanter
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