Gentle Power - 2007 Haut-Bailly

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Last Saturday night, after one of our busiest Champagne tastings in the history of K&L, Cinnamon took me out to Left Bank in Menlo Park for some steak frites. I felt like we deserved a treat after such a big day, and Clyde recommended that I try the 2007 Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan, so I brought it along to accompany our skirt steak. It was a spectacular wine.

Chateau Haut-Bailly is blessed with some of the best land in all of Bordeaux, and is one of the pearls of Graves, situated in the heart of Léognan. They have 74 acres of vineyards, 10 of which were planted in the late 1800s as a field blend and still cultivated today. While the majority of their vines, 60%, are Cabernet Sauvignon, they grow all six, including the almost extinct in Bordeaux variety Carmenère. Even these ancient vines are young compared to the history of the property, which has records going back 1461, nearly 200 years before the draining of the Médoc.

This 2007 is drinking beautifully now at 12 years old but will easily cellar for another decade or more. The wine is dry and medium bodied yet packs an incredible amount of dark fruit power—all at just 12.5% alcohol. I loved how it had the polish of the best of the wine world with catnip like French oak, but also had the vibrant gravelly finish that can only come from the best sites in Pessac-Léognan. We had it decanted on arrival, and over the hour and half that we enjoyed it more and more nuances came out in the wine. This has everything from subtle baking spice and new leather to earth tinged cassis fruit. A week later, I am still thinking about it.

If you know you deserve a treat for your next steak, this is worth considering. I need to put a little in the cellar to watch it evolve!

Gary Westby

Gary Westby