Château Haut-Bages Libéral
Pauillac - Claire Villars-Lurton
Château Haut-Bages-Libéral is a winery in the Pauillac appellation of the Bordeaux region of France. Château Haut-Bages-Libéral is also the name of the red wine produced by this property. The wine produced here was classified as one of eighteen Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growths) in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.
The Libéral family settled on the estate in the 1700s. The family's business, working as an intermediary between wine producers and the market, enabled them to build a fortune and acquire vineyard land. By the 1800s, the wine's reputation was quite good, enough so that the estate was classified Cinquième Cru Classé in the Classification of 1855.
During the next century, the estate's reputation and quality waned, as phylloxera, war, and the Great Depression took their toll. The Société Civile Charreules (owned by the Cruse family) purchased the estate in 1960, and during the next decade, some of the vineyard plots adjoining Château Pontet-Canet were transferred to Pontet, which was also under the Cruse's control.
In 1982, several years after selling off Pontet-Canet, the Cruses sold the estate off to Jacques Merlaut, head of the Taillan Group. Merlaut was owner of Château Chasse-Spleen; the Taillan Group would later acquire Château Gruaud-Larose, Château Ferrière, Château Citran, and Château La Gurgue. Merlaut's granddaughter, Claire Villars-Lurton, runs the estate today.
The estate has three vineyards; the largest is adjacent to Château Latour, with a smaller plot down the road adjacent to Château Pichon-Lalande. Both of these plots are relatively close to the Gironde; the third plot is further inland, adjacent to Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste. The soil consists mainly of a deep bed of gravel over limestone affording drainage. The total area under vine is 30 hectares, with an average vine age of 40 years. Vines are replanted individually, with the varietal mix being approximately 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. In 2009, the final blend of the grand vin was 68% Cabernet, 32% Merlot.
For the grand vin, grapes are hand-harvested and fermented in temperature controlled steel tanks. Barrel aging occurs over 16 months in 40% new oak, with malolactic fermentation occurring during this time. A second wine is produced under the labels La Fleur de Haut-Bages-Libéral and La Chapelle de Bages.