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Wine Review: Chateau Haut-Bergey Rouge, Pessac-Leognan 2005

February 12, 2011

Bordeaux… haven’t tasted one in a while so the palate was craving one! I picked the Haut-Bergey 2005 for a couple of main reasons:
1. I haven’t had it and it has been receiving a lot of attention as un underrated and under-the-radar property. Accompanying this hype is its modest price which typically hangs out around $30-$35 a bottle.

2. I own some 2009 which may or may not be still maturing in an oak barrel in the Chateau’s chai. I figured it was a good idea to drink some other vintages to gain a sense of style and what I can expect.

A brief bio on the wine: Haut-Bergey is a property located in the GRAVES region just south of the city of Bordeaux. More specifically, it is located in a sub-appellation inside of Graves called Pessac-Leognan. This region was referred to as the Haut-Graves (the northern section of Graves) and received its own official appellation in 1987 (not too long ago considering the history of wine production here dates back well over 500 years ago)! The region is named after two towns: Pessac in the northern part of the region and Leognan in the southwest part of the region. The highest quality wines are located outside of Pessac, the most famous being one of the five First Growth Bordeaux, Chateau Haut Brion. Tonight’s wine, Haut-Bergey, sits just west of Leognan.

Like most Bordeaux rouge from this region, the Haut-Bergey is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (65%) with the balance being Merlot. I was told that the 2005 (a stellar vintage overall for the entire Bordeaux region) is really fun and delicious to drink now but you just need to decant it and give it the time that it needs to open up. Does this mean 5 hours, or 45 minutes? Well, i didn’t decant it, but I did drink it over the course of 4+ hours, and by the third hour it started to reveal its inner beauty. This says to me that the wine is still very much in its youth. I was also told to save some for day 2 when it really starts tasting great. This is not happening, which is a credit to the wine for how easy drinking and deliciously approachable it is now.

I think what impressed me the most was the balance. What do I mean by balance? It’s when all of the different pieces of the wine are in harmony, like the different pieces of an orchestra. For me, I think about the fruit, earth, oak, alcohol, acidity, and tannins.

Fruit: there are a few levels of fruit going on here which is very appealing to me. There’s the darker red fruits like black cherries, but there’s also some nice blue fruits and subtle black fruits, but not as dark and concentrated as blackberry or cassis.

Earth: Graves, gravel, earth!! Yeah baby, and this is coming through big time! Especially right now as I write this! There is a strong aroma of rocks, wet stones, and damp earth.

Oak: this dominated the wine for the first hour. Not with oaky spices like vanilla, or toast… it just masked the other components of the wine from showing, covering them with an oak blanket. Right now though, it’s blending in with the other components with a smokiness and almost incense-like aroma. There’s also some dried tobacco leaf and all-spice. The most oak flavors are picked up in the finish of the wine, rather than on the nose. Really wonderfully complex.

Alcohol: The level of alcohol on the label for me means very little… it’s how that alcohol comes across in the wine, especially in the finish, that I care about. A little bit of heat is nice… it kind of sets off the other flavors of the wine, but too much will destroy them quickly giving you very little time to enjoy anything that might be going on there. This wine, which checks in at 13%ABV, comes across as a subtle warmth that just hangs by the side of all the other flavors.

Acidity: On a scale of low, medium -, medium, medium +, or high, the 2005 Haut-Bergey is med+ which keeps everything lifted and fresh, making this wine a wonderful pairing with food and most importantly, making you want to go back and have another sip.

Tannins: believe me, there are still plenty of grippy tannins in this youthful wine, but they are manageable because they are fleshy, ripe, and round, giving them a softer texture that doesn’t dry you out but still provides some chewiness that really fills out the wine.

I am definitely on board with all of the hype and attention this wine has been getting in the press. At $35 a bottle, this has got to be one of the top Bordeaux values you can get. After evaluating all of the different components above, I would say this is easily a 10 year wine and I think 13-16 years old would be perfect. Consider stocking up on this wine in the top vintages like 2000, 2005, and (we hope) 2009!

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3 Comments
  1. Waynestreet permalink

    Great write up on the Haut-Bergey Rouge, Pessac-Leognan 2005. Loved the back ground on the region. Nice to know this wine is showing a little better now. I had this wine last year and it was as closed as a jail door. I have a couple more and I agree it needs another 10-15 years of cellar time. Like any other collector patience is a flower that grows in my garden.

  2. Peter permalink

    I have 6 bottles of 2005 in my cellar, I plan to start to drink them since 2015. I wish them deserved waiting.

    • Have you tried one yet? Since posting, I ended up buying a case of 2009. I’ve had a few already, about one per year since they arrived. The first was delicious but so youthful. The next two are really showing where this beauty is headed. Such a treat to look forward to each year!

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