Located on the upper, limestone plateau of Saint-Emilion, on the eastern side of appellation, Château Barde-Haut was purchased late in 2000 by Hélène Garcin and Patrice Lévêque, who together also run Clos l’Eglise in Pomerol and Château Poesia in Saint-Emilion as well as Poesia in Mendoza, Argentina.

Situated near Tour Saint-Christophe, Troplong Mondot, Pavie Macquin, and Trotte Vieille, Château Barde-Haut covers 17 hectares (42 acres) and is planted to 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Franc. A higher elevation, cooler terroir, this is classic Saint-Emilion clay over limestone soils, with the most significant portion of the vineyard being a contiguous, walled parcel located around the winery.

This family completed a massive renovation of their cellar in 2012, with a focus on green/sustainable design, and the wine is moved all by gravity, with vinification occurring in a mix of wooden tanks, stainless steel, and concrete vats. Malolactic fermentation occurs in barrel, and the wine spends 18 months in mostly new French oak, with the percentage varying by vintage. The estate makes a second wine, the Le Vallon de Barde Haut, and typically produces 3,000 to 3,500 cases of their top wine in each vintage.

This retrospective focused on the wines made since the purchase of the estate, and as I hope the reviews show, this forward-thinking team produces an outstanding wine in just about every vintage. The wines show a pure, clean, quasi-modern style, with beautiful purity of fruit and nicely integrated oak, yet the wines retain a wonderful sense of freshness as well as ample classic Saint-Emilion minerality.

While all the wines showed well (the tasting was single blind), the 2001 and 2005 are the standouts of the early 2000s. The 2000 was fully mature and drinking at point, and the 2002 was also a surprise, showing impressive depth and richness as well as sweet tannins. The 2008 also showed beautifully (even better than in a past retrospective) and would be a smart buy in the market today. The estate purchased an optical sorting machine in 2009, and as one would expect, both the 2009 and 2010 showed brilliantly, as did the 2015 and 2016. This estate is unquestionably firing on all cylinders today, and the wines continue to represent superb values in top-notch Bordeaux.