On Monday 15th February the WING group met for a Vertical Tasting of 5eme Cru Classé Pauillac, Château Batailley, guided by Anna and Paul.

Château Batailley is in the south of the Pauillac area, situated on a gravelly plateau that descends towards the Gironde. The superb soil has excellent natural drainage ideally suited to the estate’s combination of premium grape varieties. Plantings are 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The assemblage often mirrors this but annual fluctuations can see the balance change (e.g. 2014 has 82% Cab Sauv.) In bond new vintage prices are usually in the low £30s but mature bottles reaching through the £40s towards £60.

Batailley is a Château some of us have followed for a while, helped no doubt by their regular inclusion on the Wine Society list. Indeed this group has once before has a vertical tasting of their wines – in March 2008 we had such a tasting which featured many of the wines we sampled again tonight. I’ll attach my notes for the, then, 8 year younger wines to remarks this month.

Here are my notes:

Château Batailley 1995
An open nose with vegetal hints, dark plummy fruit and a lighter perfume, very Pauillac with blackcurrant and woody hints. The palate is drying without prominent chewy tannin “spikes”, a long acid line, a little stalky, but the fruit is dried – plum-skin, and there is a slightly spicy finish. Needs food now and probably a little past its best…
8 years ago: “Very pungent, steel water tank (Franc?) and vegetation. Fruit flavours in harness with an evolved fruit-acid line and integrated tannins 17”

Château Batailley 1998
More pungency, darker with more fruit, perfumed hints. More fruit on the palate, less tannins and a more apparent green pepper tinged acidity. Very pleasant but a more Merlot-inflected balance, maybe? Lacks a little of the grip, power and length one associates with Pauillac but grows a little in the glass.
8 years ago: “Pungent blackcurrant and wood, both oak and cedar. Fruit is a little too sweet and confectionery and appears a bit over produced 14.5”

Château Batailley 1999
Fruit, herby, grainy earth hints and slightly jammy open nose. Very sweet and soft, but rather dilute and simple. My least favourite wine…

Château Batailley 2000
Vegetal and fruit – blackcurrant, plums and black cherry skins – a lighter perfume underneath and hints of cedar, complex and beguiling. Palate has an immediate and very long lasting fruit acid line going right through the wine with warm tannins supporting but not obtrusive. A star.
8 years ago: “Vegetal and black fruit, earth and cedar. Warm soft fruit on the palate giving a sweet gloss to acid and tannins underneath. More fragrance develops with time and the palate integrates. Good 17”

Château Batailley 2001
Relatively quiet nose, with heavier black fruit and damson, lighter notes appear later. Palate is warm with some sour fruit acid, and a rich finish. Slightly less structured than the previous wine but the fresh acidity gives the wine a lift. A little like the 1998 with added freshness from the acidity, is this another year with a more Merlot inflection?
8 years ago: “Pungent but quite complex nose, some higher notes and redcurrant rather than blackcurrant. Fresh with balancing structure and some sweet fruit 16”

Château Batailley 2003
Woody and prune nose with a slightly dusty, quite heavy, almost tea hint later. Palate is warm with tannic leathery texture and a bigger Cabernet flavours, rather more massive than an elegant claret. Slightly “cooked”… but opening well compared to…
8 years ago: “Lovely text book nose of blackcurrant and cedar. Big palate with firm tannins and dry acidity – a bit too straight Cab Sauv. Slightly green finish despite no Cab Franc in the blend this year – 14”

A brilliant tasting which – with the middle four vintages consecutive, shows how the Château coped with different vintage conditions rather more than relatively similar ages of the wines (14-17). In fact Batailley deserves some praise for making interesting wines in very different years. For my part 2000 is both the star, and the most typical – a combination not always found. I rather have a soft spot for the 2001 though…

Thanks so much Paul and Anna!

Until next time…