The Deal: On sale for $43.99 (cash) from 10/6/14 through 10/11/14. Regularly $57.39.
The Place: Ch. Haut Bages Liberal consisting of three plots, one (famously) adjacent to Ch. Latour in Pauillac in Bordeaux, one adjacent to Ch. Pichon Lalande, and one further inland adjacent to Ch. Grand Puy Lacoste.
Owned by the Merlaut family (also owners of Gruaud Larose, Ferriere, Chasse Spleen, etc.) to which Claire Villars Lurton (daughter of Bernadette Merlaut Villars, daughter of Jacques Merlaut) belongs, Ch. Haut Bages Liberal goes back (at least) to the Liberal family of Bordeaux courtiers in the 1700s. It is older than that but earlier records are murky. The chai and its adjacent vineyards are famously located between the town of Pauillac and Ch. Latour between the D2 road and the river. Claire Villars is the sort of winemaker/estate manager who is more interested in fruit and terroir than in extraction and her wines (both Haut Bages Liberal in Pauillac and Ferriere in Margaux) reflect that. And the consultant here is the excellent Eric Boissenot who always lets the fruit and the place talk without imposing a “style” on the wine. Between the two, the result is typically well-balanced, not overly alcoholic, less flashy than classy, and even elegant in style.
Ch. HAUT BAGES LIBERAL, Pauillac, 2008
A 13.0% alcohol blend of (by plantation) 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc fermented in concrete and stainless steel tanks using pump-overs and aged 16 months in all French oak barrels (40% new). Purple-red in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-plus-bodied with balanced acidity and medium-plus phenolics. Dark red and black fruit with gravel dusty; French oak and accents of sweet dark spice, tobacco, black pepper, and a hint of pencil shavings. Long finish. Complete. Pushes the right buttons. BearScore: 91.