Saturday, February 19, 2022

Haut-Bages-Libéral with Beefsteak Dinner

Haut-Bages-Libéral with Beefsteak Dinner

We had leftovers from the fabulous tomahawk ribeye beefsteak dinner last night and I opened a Bordeaux blend as I mentioned in my blogpost from that dinner

Exactly as I hoped or expected, this was an ideal complement to the beefsteak, sauteed spinach and twice baked potato.

At seventeen years, the fill level, label, foil and most importantly, the cork, were all in perfect condition. Robert Parker, wrote in his Wine Advocate (219) in June 2015, "Drink it over the next 15-20 years. Drink 2015-2035."

This is likely at the apex of its drinking window, not likely to improve further with aging, but with much life left, perhaps a decade or more. 

At one point in my long tenure of collecting fine wines, I realized I consumed many of my Bordeaux too early, at too young an age. Now, with a deeper and broader cellar spanning decades, I can wait to consume a wine like this at its peak for maximum enjoyment. 

Of course, there is fun and enjoyment in consuming a wine over the course of its life, if one is fortunate enough to have numerous bottles of the same vintage label. I've written about some such experiences, where after consuming much or most of my collection of a particular wine, it starts to open and evolve to reveal its total character and potential. 

Upon release, back in April 2008, Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (176) wrote, "Anticipated maturity: 2012-2022". Based on his initial review and assessment, we consumed this at its apex.

Never-the-less, tonight, this was immensely enjoyable, an ideal pairing with the dinner, so as to amplify the enjoyment of both. And, notably, it was better and more memorable than my recollections from earlier tastings of this label when it was in its youth.

We dropped in at the estate Haut-Bages-Libéral during our visit to Pauillac in 2019. It sits on the edge of town as you approach from the south, abutting the legendary estates of Pichon Lalande, Pichon Baron and Chateau Latour. 

 The Liberal family had run the estate since the early eighteenth century. In the early days, as wine brokers, they would sell most of the crops to the Netherlands and Belgium. 

As time passed, fine wine connoisseurs recognized and collected wines from the best estates and soils of the Pauillac area. Notably, half of the vineyard of this 1855 classified fifth growth is next to Château Latour, and the other half is behind Château Pichon Baron, located on the higher part of the place called 'Bages',  the large plateau south of Pauillac. 

The property is part of a broad portfolio of producers, from Bordeaux as well as Sonoma in California, owned by Claire Villars Lurton, who was born into the winegrower's family, and her husband Gonzague Lurton, whose family also owned several notable producers' labels. 

Claire Villars Lurton lived in Paris, where she had a master's degree in chemistry and physics and was preparing a thesis in physics, when her parents died in an accident in 1992. She gave up her studies and returned to Bordeaux to join her grandfather Jacques Merlaut to get actively involved in the management of the family properties, and continue the work of her mother Bernadette Villars Merlaut.

Claire took control of Château Chasse-Spleen, which sits atop the hierarchy of the Cru Bourgeois classification. At the same time, she studied vine growing and oenology at the University of Bordeaux. 

In 1994, she married Gonzague Lurton, the owner of Château Durfort-Vivens, a 2nd Classified Growth in Margaux. Together, they purchased Château Domeyne, in Saint-Estèphe in 2006. In 2012 they acquired the Trinité Estate vineyard in Sonoma County, Northern California, where they produce the Acaibo label and brand.

Since 2000, Claire has managed her family owned properties; Château La Gurge, Château Ferrière and Château Haut-Bages Libéral in Pauillac.

Château Haut-Bages-Libéral, Grand Cru Classe' Pauillac 2005

As noted above, at seventeen years, the fill level, label, foil and most importantly, the cork, were all in perfect condition. 

This label release of the 2005 Haut-Bages-Libéral, Pauillac was awarded 92-94 points Wine Enthusiast, 93 points by Wine Spectator, 91 points by Vinous, and 90 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Pleasant, enjoyable drinking, there is great QPR - quality price ratio, in this fifth growth Grand Cru Classe' Bordeaux.

Bright garnet colored, medium-full bodied, full, round, nicely balanced blackberry, black currant and ripe cherry fruits accented by herbs, spice box, notes of tobacco, anise and hints of cedar and creosote on a tangy acidity, smooth silky tannin laced lingering finish. 

RM 91 points.