Château Batailley: a vertical tasting
Ten vintages, back to 1949, from this Pauillac 5th growth


Pauillac fifth growth Château Batailley represents what is good about Bordeaux: wines that aim at elegance, and achieve this with 10-20 years’ bottle age, without costing the earth. This vertical tasting was held at The Sampler in South Kensington and featured 10 vintages—back to 1949—of Château Batailley, a Pauillac producer with a reputation for making elegant, typical wines.  

Battailley is a 55 hectare property, planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (25%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and Petit Verdot (2%), proportions more or less reflected in the blend each year. It is owned by Denise and Emile Castèja of the negociants Borie-Manoux. Their son Philippe Castéja currently runs the show. 

How did the wines do? After a rather closed 2006, we struck gold with the 2000, which is beautifully expressive. 1996 is even better: a really nice elegant wine. 1990 was my favourite wine of the night, with its measured richness, elegance and purity. This is why people get excited by Bordeaux. 1982 was lovely but not quite as exciting or elegant. 1976 had survived well and showed some fruit, but had angular tannins. 1966 was a little past it, although a second bottle was nicer. 1960 was funky and over-the-top, but still and interesting drink. 1949 was a real treat. It’s rare to taste a wine this old that's still very much alive, and tastes of wine. It wasn't perfectly elegant, but it was interesting.

Most recent vintages can be found on the market for £30–40 a bottle, which by Bordeaux standards is quite reasonable.


Château Batailley 2006 Pauillac, Bordeaux
70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Tight and youthful with firm savoury, spicy structure. Nice fresh berry and cherry fruit, but taut and unyielding at the moment. Good acidity. 90/100

Château Batailley 2000 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Lovely aromatic, gravelly nose with ripe plum and cherry fruit, as well as a hint of coffee. The palate is elegant and expressive with nice fresh acidity under the cherry and berry fruits. Elegant with good fruit, and hints of iodine and earth. Beautifully expressive. 94/100

Château Batailley 1996 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Nicely aromatic: fine cherry and berry fruit with subtle green sappy notes. The palate is elegant and expressive with some gravel and mineral characters as well as traces of earth and iodine. Beautiful stuff, drinking very well now. 95/100

Château Batailley 1990 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Beautifully elegant wine that’s fine, expressive and pure. Some fine earth and mineral notes along with cherry fruit. The palate is fine and expressive with deliciously pure fruit. Fantastic pure berry and cherry fruit makes this a superbly elegant wine. Thrilling, even. 97/100

Château Batailley 1989 Pauillac, Bordeaux
(Two bottles opened; this is a composite note.) Slightly reserved with rich, dark cherry and berry fruits on the nose as well as some meaty notes. The palate is smooth, rich and dark with some depth and elegance. Some spicy, tarry notes, too. Real appeal here, but it is outclassed by the 1990. 93/100

Château Batailley 1982 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Some richness on the nose which shows sweet, warm spices and some meatiness. Ripe and quite mineral. The palate has appealing, seamless ripe fruit with spice and mineral undertones. Lovely purity: this is still a linear wine ageing in a nice direction. Combines ripeness and elegance to good effect. 94/100

Château Batailley 1976 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Interesting nose: herby and earth with some fresh cherry and berry fruit still present. The palate has earth, iodine and mineral notes with some fruit and savoury complexity. Still has grippy structure. Lots of interest still. 92/100

Château Batailley 1966 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Two bottles opened; this is the note from the better of the two. Savoury, earthy, spicy nose is a little murky. The palate is earthy and dense with some fruit but also earth and spice character. Savoury with only a little fruit left. Past its best with drying tannins, but still some appeal. 87/100

Château Batailley 1960 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Cloudy with a faded colour. Warm soy sauce notes on the nose. The palate shows sweet old fruit and lively spiciness, in a savoury style, with lots of spicy complexity. Funky and past its best, but still has some interest. 86/100

Château Batailley 1949 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Still alive. Nice red colour with a bricking rim. Nicely fresh with some earthy, spicy savouriness and complex notes of cherry, herb, earth and citrus. Complex, interesting and quite savoury with lots of interest even if it is a bit stern and angular, and past its best. So interesting to taste a wine this old that is still alive. 88/100

See also:

Bordeaux 1961 horizontal tasting
The 2000 vintage in Bordeaux: a horizontal tasting

Wines tasted 01/11  
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