One of the few Bordeaux chateaux with three words in their name. Chateau Haut Bages Liberal came across its unusual moniker for very simple reasons. The property is situated on the hills of Bages, a tiny area between Pauillac and St. Julien. Liberal is the name of the family that owned the chateau during the 18th century.
In 1960, the Cruse family, another family dynasty that still owns numerous Bordeaux chateaux owned managed the estate. The Cruse family deserve credit for increasing the size of the estate and for replanting much of the vineyard. At the time, the Cruse family also owned Chateau Pontet Canet, which is important, because that is where Haut Bages Liberal was also made for several years.
In 1983, they sold Chateau Haut Bages Liberal to the Taillan group. The Taillan group owns several chateaux in Bordeaux including: Chateau Gruaud Larose in Saint Julien, Chateau Ferrier in Margaux, Chateau Chasse Spleen, Chateau Camensac, Chateau Gressier Grand Poujeaux and Chateau Citran in the Haut Medoc and Chateau Broustet in Sauternes.
In 2000, the new owners, the Taillan group, renovated and modernized their wine making facilities in Pauillac. Today Chateau Haut Bages Liberal is run by Claire Villars-Lurton. Claire Villars-Lurton is also the manager in charge of Chateau Ferriere and Chateau La Gurgue in Margaux and Chateau Domeye in St. Estephe.
The 30 hectare vineyard of Chateau Haut Bages Liberal is planted to 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. This shows an increase in Cabernet Sauvignon over the years. The Petit Verdot vines have been removed.
The vineyard is widely dispersed in the appellation, as they have parcels located in several different sites in Pauillac, with their best terroir being situated on one of the better elevations in the entire Pauillac appellation. They have vines not far from Chateau Latour in St. Lambert, as well as parcels on the plateau of Bages.
They also have vines planted close to Pichon Baron. The terroir consists of gravel on chalk, clay and limestone soils. Their best vines are placed close to Chateau Latour. The vines are placed in a myriad of terroirs, with varying exposures, types, and quality of terroir, making it harder to produce a top quality wine in some vintages. The actual chateau and winery are located next to Chateau Pichon Lalande.
The average age of the vines are close to 35 years of age. The vineyard is planted to a vine density of 10,000 vines per hectare. Currently, the vineyards are farmed using self sustaining techniques.
Chateau Haut Bages Liberal was certified as organic in 2019. The vineyards are also certified as biodynamic in 2019.
The wine of Chateau Haut Bages Liberal is vinified in 32 temperature controlled that are divided as follows, 16 stainless steel tanks and 16 cements vats. The fermentation vats range in size from as small as 47 hectoliters, all the way up to 170 hectoliters.
Malolactic fermentation takes place in tank and vat. The wine of Chateau Haut Bages Liberal is aged in 40% new, French oak barrels for between 14 to 18 months, depending on the character of vintage. However, it is important to note that 20% of the wine is aged in amphora, starting with the 2018 vintage.
The production of Haut Bages Liberal averages close to 10,000 cases of Bordeaux wine per year. There is a second wine, or perhaps I should say there are 3 second wines, as their second wine is sold under 3 different names, La Chapelle de Bages, La Fleur de Haut-Bages Liberal and Le Pauillac de Haut-Bages Liberal.
When to Drink Chateau Haut Bages Liberal, Anticipated Maturity, Decanting Time
Chateau Haut Bages Liberal needs some time in the cellar to show its best. Young vintages can be decanted for an average of 2-3 hours, give or take. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment.
Chateau Haut Bages Liberal is usually better with at least 6-10 years of bottle age. Of course that can vary slightly, depending on the vintage character. Chateau Haut Bages Liberal offers its best drinking and should reach peak maturity between 10-20 years of age after the vintage.
Serving Chateau Haut Bages Liberal with Wine, Food, Pairing Tips
Chateau Haut Bages Liberal is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift.
Chateau Haut Bages Liberal is best served with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, roasted, braised and grilled dishes. Chateau Haut Bages Liberal is also good with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, mushrooms and pasta. (Source: thewinecellarinsider.com)