TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

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TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#1 Post by JeffK » August 21st, 2019, 8:50 am

2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac (8/21/2019)

6th time I have had this wine from a case I purchased on futures for $20 per bottle. The cepage for the 2000 is 80% Cab Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. Decanted 2 hours before drinking at Hawkshead restaurant. Corkage was waived. Crimson color with some browning at the rim. Earthy nose with forest floor aromas. Notes of dried mushrooms, beef blood, currant and leather. Firm tannins. This is still going strong at 19 years old and drinking very well now. 93 points.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#2 Post by ChristopherSK » August 22nd, 2019, 3:50 pm

The 2000 HBL is just amazing Jeff and I share your opinion of an appropriate rating/score of this wine. I have half a case left of this too. I recently posted about how a so called "Bordeaux expert" with his own blog trash talked the 2000 HBL. (Just google, 2000 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal, and you will be stunned at the opinion of this guy) I slightly hesitate to call the wine blogger a &^#%, but how could he lack sufficient wine knowledge and experience to not immediately recognize that he just drank a corked or heat damaged bottle of HBL?!?
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#3 Post by Julian Marshall » August 23rd, 2019, 2:09 am

Great note, Jeff - most of mine have been like yours was, but one or two have been a bit faded, which perhaps explains the critical blog.

Christopher, I think you are talking about Alex Rychlewski, in which case you could ask him directly, since he's a regular here.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#4 Post by Alex Rychlewski » August 23rd, 2019, 2:44 am

Saying: "Lynch Bages is the poor man's Mouton, and Haut Bages Libéral is the poor man's Lynch Bages....

Alex R.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#5 Post by ChristopherSK » August 23rd, 2019, 5:56 am

Yep, Alex (for some reason that is not apparent) you somehow did not realize that you drank a completely non representative bottle of the 2000 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal and therefore, you wrote a rather inacurate review of this wine back on May 22, 2016 The 2000 HBL you drank clearly was not properly stored. As you are based in Bordeaux, perhaps you can telephone HBL and ask for them to sell you a properly cellared bottle of the 2000 so that you can re-review the wine for your blog. If you get to Philly, I will gladly share some of the 2000 HBL with you (and others) and let you compare it to other properly cellared 2000 Bordeaux. I should also note, I had two cases of the wine purchased in 2015, drinking over a case of the wine and never had one slightly off bottle. I certainly agree Julian that due to bottle variation even a bottle with good provenance and proper temperature control could be a "bit faded". However, the wine that Alex drank in mid 2016 was so not a "bit faded" as it was so dead that only the "most hard-bitten adepts of old tertiary Bordeaux" would enjoy it. With all that being noted, I do fully agree that HBL is the poor man's Lynch Bages!!! Great phrase.
Lastly, Alex, I emailed you through the email address on your blog back on Christmas day 2016 and asked you to pull your review of the 2000 HBL from your blog. I hope you can either pull/delete the blog post, or perhaps update it based upon a tasting of a representative bottle of the wonderful 2000 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#6 Post by John Morris » August 23rd, 2019, 7:05 am

ChristopherSK wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 5:56 am
Lastly, Alex, I emailed you through the email address on your blog back on Christmas day 2016 and asked you to pull your review of the 2000 HBL from your blog. I hope you can either pull/delete the blog post, or perhaps update it based upon a tasting of a representative bottle of the wonderful 2000 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal.
So you're censoring other people's wine reviews? [scratch.gif]
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#7 Post by ChristopherSK » August 23rd, 2019, 7:42 am

John. Am I censoring or am I pointing out an injustice to the winemaker and crew and the other good people at Haut Bages Liberal? This is an internet blog. I have no power to censor anyone. I am certainly "calling out" what I believe to be a review by Alex that is shocking in that he didn't recognize that he had a bad bottle of wine, and instead published through the internet the concept that older bottles of HBL such as the 2000 can't age well. Alex is a wine professional and I am willing to bet that he can stomach some criticism. Alex could have tasted this wine in 2016 and said to himseelf..........."hmmm.........are older HBL's like this wine incapable of aging, or did I just drink a bottle that was flawed or improperly stored. Let me use the internet and see what other people have encountered with the 2000 HBL as that will help me figure out if I just drank an unrepresentative bottle of the wine so that I don't make a blog post in which I publish an opinion that HBL can't age well as perhaps that opinion might be a bit........off"
If Alex wants to let his review stand, certainly he can let it stand as its his blog. Alex is a wine professional, and he is entitled to make mistakes. I have made many, many mistakes in life and I learn from them. Alex could also retaste the wine, and publish a review of a 2000 HBL that he picks up from the Chateau and tell us how age worthy the 2000 HBL's are that never took the trip over to the States.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#8 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 23rd, 2019, 7:47 am

Wow.

I should be censored on my recent, unfavorable notes on the 2004 Pontet Canet and the 2003 Joguet.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#9 Post by John Morris » August 23rd, 2019, 7:49 am

Responding to Christopher ... I've never seen anyone demand that a review that they disagree with be pulled.

As a devoted Berserker, I'm never shocked there are extreme differences of opinion about any given wine, or about a vintage (which seems to be part of the issue here). Since Alex says he's lived in Bordeaux since 1978, has worked in the trade there and elsewhere, and has posted frequently here, I would expect he'd known when he had a plainly faulty or abused bottle, and I don't write off his opinion as "an injustice."

(For anyone who's curious, here's Alex's review.)
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#10 Post by ChristopherSK » August 23rd, 2019, 8:07 am

John. I agree with you that Alex should have the experience with wine, and Bordeaux in particular, to recognize if he had just drunk a plainly faulty or abused wine. About demanding? I certainly can't demand anything, but I can opine that a wine professional should retry a wine that they essentially trash if there are reasons to believe that they had a bad bottle. It's a question of wine ethics. Alex can let his opinion stand about the 2000 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal and how un age worthy he believes the wine to be. It's up to him. Alex lives in Bordeaux. Alex could also take the 1 hour and 5 minute drive to HBL (according to Google maps) and pick up a bottle of the 2000 or taste the wine at the Chateau.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#11 Post by Ramon C » August 23rd, 2019, 8:13 am

It sure read like you’re demanding on Alex.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#12 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 23rd, 2019, 8:42 am

I have consumed multiple bottles of this wine since arrival in 2003 and I have to say I have consistently been underwhelmed. The wine was shy in its youth, naturally, but even last year it was stubbornly reclusive. So I am closer to Alex's view of the wine than the OP.

But I'm happy others have enjoyed the wine more than I have. The garbage attacks on Alex and his opinion are just that and unworthy of further comment.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#13 Post by ChristopherSK » August 23rd, 2019, 9:29 am

Neal, it's apparent that you purchased your 2000 HBL from a reputable futures retailer such as Calvert, McArthurs, Pearsons, etc. Back in 2003 better Bordeaux future retailers were making sure that everything was shipped transatlantic in temperature controlled reefers. You probably have stored your 2000 HBL in a temperature controlled cellar. I would be willing to bet that you even have a propane tank powered back up generator with an automatic transfer switch so that if the power goes down, the wine will be fine. So it sure looks like the 2000 HBL that you drank has good provenance.

With the above being noted, does "stubbornly reclusive" mean that your 2000 HBL is not showing much fruit and that it needs to age more? I tend to think of that phrase applying to a wine that needs more time, rather than one that is overly tertiary. If you haven''t read the substantive portions of Alex's post from 2016 which would have been about 3 years after the wine was released, here it is.

"Well, I must say I was underwhelmed. The color looked older than its years. The nose was really very muted, but if you looked hard you could discern cherry, briar, humus, graphite, and cigar box aromas. The wine had a thin oily mouth feel and a wimpish aftertaste. I’m all for subtlety, but not to the point where this is the shadow of what a great growth Pauillac in a good year should be. This 2000 Haut Bages Libéral would unquestionably have been better years ago to all but the most hard-bitten adepts of old tertiary Bordeaux. And I’m willing to bet even they would be disappointed with this wine.
I’ve tasted more recent vintages of Haut Bages Libéral and think the estate is on the upswing. However, as a consumer, I will make sure to drink mine on the young side from now on."

To me I interpret Alex's review to be a description of a wine that more than 3 years ago tasted essentially dead, in which even the type of wine enthusiasts who adore old tertiary Bordeaux would be disappointed. So Neal, are you indicating that you palate when tasting the 2000 HBL comes to a closer description depicted in Alex's review of how his wine drank in May of 2016, rather than others who have more glowing reviews of the wine who believe it is still drinking well now?

I have my big boy pants on and I can certainly take criticism. What I am pointing out with my posts and the motivation for my posts, is that I firmly believe that an ethical wine professional should re-taste a wine if he/she has a reason to believe that their written and published opinion of a wine was affected by a flawed bottle. Furthermore, that wine professionals should have the requisite knowledge to know when they have tasted a flawed wine, so as to re-taste before they publish what could be viewed as an opinion skewed by having drunk a flawed wine.
Last edited by ChristopherSK on August 23rd, 2019, 1:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#14 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 23rd, 2019, 9:58 am

ChristopherSK wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 9:29 am
Neal, it's apparent that you purchased your 2000 HBL from a reputable futures retailer such as Calvert, McArthurs, Pearsons, etc. Back in 2003 better Bordeaux future retailers were making sure that everything was shipped transatlantic in temperature controlled reefers. You probably have stored your 2000 HBL in a temperature controlled cellar. I would be willing to bet that you even have a propane tank powered back up generator with an automatic transfer switch so that if the power goes down, the wine will be fine. So it sure looks like the 2000 HBL that you drank has good provenance.

With the above being noted, does "stubbornly reclusive" mean that your 2000 HBL is not showing much fruit and that it needs to age more? I tend to think of that phrase applying to a wine that needs more time, rather than one that is overly tertiary. If you haven''t read the substantive portions of Alex's post from 2016 which would have been about 13 years after the wine was released, here it is.

"Well, I must say I was underwhelmed. The color looked older than its years. The nose was really very muted, but if you looked hard you could discern cherry, briar, humus, graphite, and cigar box aromas. The wine had a thin oily mouth feel and a wimpish aftertaste. I’m all for subtlety, but not to the point where this is the shadow of what a great growth Pauillac in a good year should be. This 2000 Haut Bages Libéral would unquestionably have been better years ago to all but the most hard-bitten adepts of old tertiary Bordeaux. And I’m willing to bet even they would be disappointed with this wine.
I’ve tasted more recent vintages of Haut Bages Libéral and think the estate is on the upswing. However, as a consumer, I will make sure to drink mine on the young side from now on."

To me I interpret Alex's review to be a description of a wine that more than 3 years ago tasted essentially dead, in which even the type of wine enthusiasts who adore old tertiary Bordeaux would be disappointed. So Neal, are you indicating that you palate when tasting the 2000 HBL comes to a closer description depicted in Alex's review of how his wine drank in May of 2016, rather than others who have more glowing reviews of the wine who believe it is still drinking well now?

I have my big boy pants on and I can certainly take criticism. What I am pointing out with my posts and the motivation for my posts, is that I firmly believe that an ethical wine professional should re-taste a wine if he/she has a reason to believe that their written and published opinion of a wine was affected by a flawed bottle. Furthermore, that wine professionals should have the requisite knowledge to know when they have tasted a flawed wine, so as to re-taste before they publish what could be viewed as an opinion skewed by having drunk a flawed wine.
Alex has lived in bdx and worked in the wine trade for decades. He has earned respect from me, and I think, from most of not all of the others here. Your post not only suggests that he is incompetent but that he is unethical. In my view, that is wildly, profoundly inappropriate here. You could have made your point without the condescension. Sorry but that is how I read your multiple posts here.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#15 Post by ChristopherSK » August 23rd, 2019, 10:22 am

Criticism Neal is certainly not pretty. But Alex is a professional, and he certainly can mess up like anyone. This does not mean that Alex's opinions in the past, present and future should be ignored. However, I think Alex double fumbled on this one, and failed to catch a flawed wine resulting in him choosing to publish a negatively worded trash talk about the 2000 HBL and the ageability of prior vintages. Should Alex have trashed talked HBL and their 2000 HBL without re-tasting this wine from another source? I don't think he should have. The vast majority of wine writers will not post a negative review of a wine on a first tasting and will do a re-tasting unless there is no reason to believe that one just drank a flawed wine. Alex didn't do that. Good ethics is circling back when you think that perhaps you have published a review that is based on a bad bottle, and you re-taste it.

Hey, I understand sticking up for people who have consistently shown that they are wise and ethical. I sure get that. But I also understand that winemakers and Chateau's should not be trash talked unless one has a really darn good reason for trash talking. Punch me all you want, but I am sticking up for HBL!

BTW, Neal, am I wrong about you having the propane back up generator, or am I wrong that you have a manual transfer switch and not an automatic transfer switch?
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#16 Post by Jeff Leve » August 23rd, 2019, 10:27 am

ChristopherSK wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 5:56 am
Yep, Alex (for some reason that is not apparent) you somehow did not realize that you drank a completely non representative bottle of the 2000 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal and therefore, you wrote a rather inacurate review of this wine back on May 22, 2016
As much as it pains me to stick up for Alex... What do you care what someone else thinks of a wine? It’s his opinion. Just like you have your opinion.

Give it a rest.
ChristopherSK wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 10:22 am
Criticism Neal is certainly not pretty. But Alex is a professional...
What makes you think he’s a professional ? Not that it makes any difference as he’s entitled to his view... Im just curious...

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#17 Post by Rudi Finkler » August 23rd, 2019, 10:38 am

hmmmm.... :-)
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#18 Post by ChristopherSK » August 23rd, 2019, 10:40 am

Jeff. Interesting that you indicate "(g)ive it a rest." Why didn't you write about your review and rating and opinion about ageability of the 2000 HBL from when you last had the pleasure of experiencing it in December of 2018.

Your opinion Jeff from less than a year ago was that the 2000 HBL could drink well for ANOTHER 15 to 20 years!!

"Just starting to drink well, this is a solid example of a classic Left Bank Bordeaux. Here you find crisp, bright, red fruits, some strictness in the tannins and all the cedar, forest leaf, cigar box, peppery herbs and both, sweet with tart, red fruits. This should offer pleasure for another 15-20 years."

Make you think Jeff that Alex tasted a really flawed bottle?
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#19 Post by Jeff Leve » August 23rd, 2019, 10:50 am

ChristopherSK wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 10:40 am
Jeff. Interesting that you indicate "(g)ive it a rest." Why didn't you write about your review and rating and opinion about ageability of the 2000 HBL from when you last had the pleasure of experiencing it in December of 2018.

Your opinion Jeff from less than a year ago was that the 2000 HBL could drink well for ANOTHER 15 to 20 years!!

"Just starting to drink well, this is a solid example of a classic Left Bank Bordeaux. Here you find crisp, bright, red fruits, some strictness in the tannins and all the cedar, forest leaf, cigar box, peppery herbs and both, sweet with tart, red fruits. This should offer pleasure for another 15-20 years."

Make you think Jeff that Alex tasted a really flawed bottle?
First off, the purpose of my response was not to offer my note. It was to ask you why do you care that others agree with you or not. Which you still have not answered.

Next... That’s my opinion. Not his. Not yours. He, you and everyone is allowed to see and say what they please. And we do not need to agree. Ever!

I do not agree with a lot of folks on here quite often. But I would NEVER tell them they should remove their notes or that they need to retaste the wine.

As to what Alex tasted... I don’t care! I do not read his blog or most of his posts. My response is solely directed to you.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#20 Post by ChristopherSK » August 23rd, 2019, 10:55 am

Jeff, this is an online bulletin board about wine. We express opinions. You are entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine. We can both express it here. So, essentially you are telling me that I should not express my opinion about wine reviewer ethics which is really what this thread is about. I don't share your opinion Jeff.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#21 Post by Rudi Finkler » August 23rd, 2019, 10:57 am

ChristopherSK wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 10:55 am
Jeff, this is an online bulletin board about wine. We express opinions. You are entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine. We can both express it here. So, essentially you are telling me that I should not express my opinion about wine reviewer ethics which is really what this thread is about. I don't share your opinion Jeff.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#22 Post by Rudi Finkler » August 23rd, 2019, 11:22 am

Alex Rychlewski wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 2:44 am
Saying: "Lynch Bages is the poor man's Mouton, and Haut Bages Libéral is the poor man's Lynch Bages....

Alex R.
What a poor saying… :-)
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#23 Post by Alex Rychlewski » August 23rd, 2019, 12:00 pm

Wow, Christopher, do you ever have the wrong end of the stick!

First of all, as others have pointed out, you have no right to censure me. Jeff Leve and I have a mutual disadmiration society, but I must say I thank him for sticking up for this principle.

Second, the saying I posted about HBL was a humorous one that is in no way critical!!!
Look at the price of Mouton, then LB, then HBL.
There is no implication whatsoever that the wine is substandard. Rather that it is good value for money, which pretty much hits the nail on the head.
Jeez, you need to lighten up.

As for 2000 HBL, I am free to write my impressions, even if they contradict yours!!!
There's a saying you may have heard "There are no great wines, only great bottles".
I fully accept that there are bum bottles out there. Mine may very well have been atypical.
It is entirely possible that if you had a significant quantity of the wine, that your appreciation is more accurate then mine.
I freely admit this.

I recently wrote a review for a Michelin-starred restaurant on Trip Advisor. I have eater there 4 or 5 times. But the most recent time was a disaster.
I described my experience, but said that they probably were just having a bad day, and that I'd have to go back again soon to see if things were better i.e. as good as previous meals.
By the same token, Christopher, if I share a negative impression of a wine, I have no inflated opinion of myself. That wine may be better on another occasion. Such things as bottle variation exist and, as you point out, storage and provenance play an important role. In addition, no one is above being served a wine he dissed later on and finding it delicious...

So, please calm down. We both love wine and both love Bordeaux. I'm not into smearing anyone's reputation, just writing (expletive deleted) tasting notes!
I might add that, seeing as I love to broaden my horizons, I rarely buy by the case.
That is why some people on forums such as this, or on Cellartracker, are better informed and more on target than professional critics, a group, by the way, I do not consider myself to belong to.

Best regards,
Alex R.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#24 Post by Pat Martin » August 23rd, 2019, 12:45 pm

Yes, it’s just wine. Alex is a scholar and a gentleman.

But to be frank, this is some of the best copy HBL might hope to get on a wine board! I’ve thought more about this Chateau reading this thread than I have in ages.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#25 Post by CJ Beazley » August 23rd, 2019, 1:49 pm

Neal.Mollen wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 8:42 am
I have consumed multiple bottles of this wine since arrival in 2003 and I have to say I have consistently been underwhelmed. The wine was shy in its youth, naturally, but even last year it was stubbornly reclusive. So I am closer to Alex's view of the wine than the OP.

But I'm happy others have enjoyed the wine more than I have. The garbage attacks on Alex and his opinion are just that and unworthy of further comment.
Well it took me a while but I found them. I’ll try to open one of these this weekend, and before I post a note-yes, they were bought on release (not futures) and have been well stored.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#26 Post by julianseersmartin » August 23rd, 2019, 2:17 pm

HBL has long been an underachiever. The idea that a 2000 cru classe is at peak right now tells you all you need to know. Most of the higher quality wines still have quite a bit of development to go through.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#27 Post by M. Meer » August 23rd, 2019, 5:09 pm

ChristopherSK wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 7:42 am
Am I censoring or am I pointing out an injustice to the winemaker and crew and the other good people at Haut Bages Liberal?
I think that's a little strong. And, I think the reviewer in question would be the first to admit the limitations of his influence on the good standing of any one domaine. Not many, if any have the power to take anyone down. If anything, the power of this board -- and many others -- is to temporarily cause a buying frenzy in the short to intermediate term.

TL;DR: It's all good, bro.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#28 Post by ChristopherSK » August 23rd, 2019, 8:15 pm

Alex, after reading more of your post today, in particular your recent posts from the past months, I have to admit that overall your have a damn nice blog called the Bordeaux Wine Blog. Your write about Bordeaux wines with vivid descriptions, well structured articles, that are informative and add to a readers knowledge about Bordeaux wine. Your "about" section of your blog outlines your impressive wine background. The articles and reviews you have written show you to be incredibly knowledgeable about Bordeaux, and although you say you are not a professional critic, the way you approach the subject matter is in my opinion, that of a professional. This may shock you, but I think your Blog provides valuable insight to those who wish to know more about Bordeaux. From what I read the overwhelming majority of what you write about Bordeaux is spot on. However, as I believe that you are holding yourself out to be a wine professional is why I have gone on a soapbox about your March 2016 bashing of the 2000 HBL and the its ageability. You published in your Blog your "impressions" of one bottle of an older Bordeaux that had been released more than a decade prior to you tasting the wine. Based on this singular impression of the 2000 HBL, you wrote an incredibly negative bash on the 2000 HBL noting that the wines from HBL should be drunk on the young side. My criticism is of your criticism of this wine, the 2000 HBL. You jumped from a singular impression to Blog expressing extreme negativity about a particular vintage of wine without considering the essential component when one reviews an older wine; that is, has this wine been properly stored and is it tasting like overly tertiary wimpy oily plonk because this is how this particular wine in general tastes, or is this one bottle not representative of the vintage being tasted. Although you express that you are not a wine professional, my soap box criticism is that I think you are a wine professional when I view your background and body of blog work, and that you should be ready to be called out for bashing an older wine without properly vetting the provenance of the wine. When you fail to consider provenance before you go negative on an older Bordeaux, you are not being the "champion" of Bordeaux wines which is one of two reasons you noted in your about section as to why you started the blog.

I adore Bordeaux and have been drinking it for 30 plus years. You too adore Bordeaux. Why don't you do HBL a solid and retaste the 2000 HBL? It's not like I am asking you to stick pins in your arm. I am asking you to take the time to drink a 19 year old HBL that's been properly stored at the Chateau. Trust me, it's not punishment. Drinking the 2000 HBL will be enlightenment.

Furthermore, if you get to Philly, I will set up a tasting and provide over 20 different 2000 vintage Bordeaux for you, me and 10 other Berserkers to try. Your impression of the 2000 vintage in general might also change.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#29 Post by Alex Rychlewski » August 24th, 2019, 12:37 am

Christopher,

Well, it looks like civilized discourse here, which suits me just fine .
One of the things I have learned about fine Bordeaux after all this time is that ageworthiness is not the yardstick by which it should be measured. Another is that there is a lot going for Bordeaux consumed younger than many wine lovers, especially English-speaking ones, consider necessary. The 2000 vintage is a case in point. In my opinion – certainly not yours, and that’s fine – the majority of these wines (OK, just to be clear, great growth wines…) are fine now, at age 19.

Describing a wine as best consumed on the young side is not at all damning in my book. My experience with HBL, which I taste fairly often, is just that. Let’s take value for money into consideration. A cru classé Pauillac that’s not only good, but a pleasure to drink at age 5 or 10, offers a lot of advantages. I haven’t dismissed the estate by any means. But neither do I consider it in the exalted category, or one destined for the Long Haul.

It’s funny, I can remember when California wines began emerging on the international scene. The Bordelais tasted them, nodded approvingly and opined with condescension that the region “had made considerable progress”… They also found it hard to believe that a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa could taste that good just 3 and 4 years after the vintage.
Age can improve wine, but it can also betray it.

I find your explanation of why my tasting note is invalid rather murky because it seems obvious to me that anybody’s tasting note is the portrait of a particular bottle of wine on a particular day. To me, it goes without saying that a poor showing can be due to various factors (degree of aeration, serving temperature, bottle variation and, as you point out, provenance). In other words, no one’s tasting notes, unless they have a very swelled head, can be thought of as definitive.
You can be assured that if I had the 2000 HBL on another occasion and it was much better, I would say so on my blog.

As for my not being a champion of Bordeaux, I cannot see how dissing one wine deserves that comment!
I am totally open to new experiences and calling into question previous opinions.
That’s why I love blind tasting.

I thank you for your kind offer of setting up a tasting of HBL in Philadelphia, a city I have only visited once before. However, I’m not likely to travel to the US for some time. If I do, I’ll let you know.

All the best,
Alex R.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#30 Post by Rudi Finkler » August 24th, 2019, 1:09 am

Both the blind faith in a completely outdated classification system and the faith in the objectivity of ratings systems, especially the allocation of points by so called experts, make it impossible to taste a wine free of prejudice. Unfortunately, still too many people are not aware of this fact and remain victims of systems, which are, first of all, extremely useful for the leading estates, a few ‘experts’, and a few people from the trade, but not for the consumer. Meaningless points, but also stupid sayings like “a poor man’s” whatever are grossly misleading and insults to the wines in question.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#31 Post by Alex Rychlewski » August 24th, 2019, 1:41 am

Rudi,

I see that you, too, have taken a humorous saying quite literally and been upset.

Insulting? Oh, c'mon, and there is more than a grain of truth in it.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#32 Post by Pat Martin » August 24th, 2019, 6:59 am

This thread is a powerful reminder to at least one of the reasons why so many critics stopped publishing their negative tasting notes. It’s all so much easier when everyone gets an A and a prize!
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#33 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 24th, 2019, 7:00 am

Pat Martin wrote:
August 24th, 2019, 6:59 am
This thread is a powerful reminder to at least one of the reasons why so many critics stopped publishing their negative tasting notes. It’s all so much easier when everyone gets an A and a prize!
No doubt, this thread is a total downer.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#34 Post by ChristopherSK » August 24th, 2019, 7:14 am

Alex, I think that the main component of me being strongly critical of your one review, tasting note, whatever you call it, is that it is contained in what looks to be a well thought out blog that is focused on Bordeaux. It's my belief that wine Bloggers, in particular, a wine blogger that predominantly writes about one type or region of wine, have the same kind of ethical responsibilities as does someone who is getting paid for expressing their opinions about wine. Unlike tasting notes on a site such as WB, your impression gets publicly extrapolated into an opinion on the blog that you control. Unlike tasting notes here on WB, anyone who googles "2000 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal" would most likely be given your blog post on the first page of google hits. On my computer you come in as number 6, and right behind you is a hit on Jeff's web site. So essentially, your blog post is something that the internet lends credibility to, as your blog opinion is one that theoretically would come to the attention of anyone google researching this particular wine. Additionally, this particular blog post can't be tempered with responses by readers, as your blog lacks a comment section.

Interesting, that's exactly how I found your blog post on the 2000 HBL! I am enough of a wine nerd that I have been educating my children about wine since they very little. It was the first time that my daughters were going to have the HBL so I did a google search, and came across your review. I remember the discourse about the wine and the showing her a few of the reviews and information about HBL in general (yeah, here's some positive vibes towards Jeff) and we looked at Jeff's web page and your post. We had already drunk some of the wine which was opened up after a decant, and my daughter asked, (and I am paraphrasing as I don't remember all of her exact words) "Dad, why is this guy describing the wine as being really awful. It's a great wine that has so much fruit. Why is he trashing the wine." (I do recall that she used the word trashing) I replied with something like.....well, he must have had an badly stored or tainted wine, but I don't know why he would write a review like this on a Bordeaux blog when it clearly is of a flawed wine. So what did I do on Christmas night of 2016 finishing up at 8:22 pm? I wrote you an email Alex. A nicely worded email. It included this...

Thus, perhaps you would consider pulling your 2000 HBL review, as I strongly believe that you did not have a representative bottle of this particular vintage. If you can try a bottle from the estate, I am confidant that you will understand my perspective.
In closing, please don't take this email in a bad way, as I am not putting you down, as you are clearly someone with an extraordinary amount of wine knowledge. I just felt like you really should have "my input" about the 2000 HBL.

I recognize that you might not have read my email. If I had to bet, I would say that you probably received this email. And to those who say it is wrong to ask a Blog reviewer (not a WB reviewer) to pull a wine review, you are entitled to your opinion. I believe that someone who has a Bordeaux blog, who lists their contact email, who lists on their about page a mission statement about being passionate about Bordeaux, a champion of Bordeaux, should be contacted and requested to retry a wine if they have a strongly negative review of a wine that readily appears to be of a flawed bottle of particular vintage.

Candidly, what I don't understand from your responses Alex is why would you NOT want to incredibly soon re-taste the 2000 HBL? Anyone can bash me for being rough on you, but I find this to be questionable ethics, and frankly, how do you satisfy or advance your mission statement by letting your current review of the 2000 HBL stand without disclaimers that what you tasted back in early 2016 readily appears to be a non-representative version of how 2000 HBL should taste? What's so bad about saying "hey, you know what, I am going to be up north near HBL in two weeks and I will pick up a bottle and try it! I'll let you know what I think!"

If your review was a post on Cellar Tracker, most likely within hours, someone would have responded with a comment indicating, "I think you drank a flawed bottle. Check out the other notes on this wine." (I like how you have not reduced wine to numbers on your blog, as I so agree that a wine is not a number, although numbers have become entrenched with wine reviews) When one adds a tasting note on CT, after you hit add tasting note, among all the boxes to fill out there's a little box called "bottle was flawed or defective" and if one hits that box, one cannot enter a numerical score that would be factored into the aggregate score of the wine from all reviewers. The little box is a reminder, as it essentially says "hey, sir or madam about to post a review of this wine, if the wine you are about to review is flawed or defective, hit me so that the review is properly categorized, because a defective wine should not affect the overall rating of this wine." That box is a little red flag to those about to rate a wine, as it gives a reminder to the reviewer that a non representative or flawed wine should be called out as that, so as to not give the wrong impression about a representative bottle of a particular wine. (If one hits the box, the word FLAWED appears instead of a number to the top right of the review. The CT reviews of the 2000 HBL have a couple reviews marked flawed.) Cellar tracker is a wonderful tool for anyone researching older wines, in particular Bordeaux as the Bordeaux posts there are legion. At the very least, it's a great reference point to help anyone when reviewing an older bottle of a wine to figure out if a wine that is tasting old and wimpish is representative of a properly stored bottle of the wine or a flawed version of a particular wine.

Last thing to note. Your tasting note and your impressions of how the 2000 HBL tasted in early 2016 is not something I disagree with. I fully believe that you have accurately described the wine. My disagreement is how you decided to go from impression to opinion about the 2000 HBL in general, without consideration that your Blog promoted opinion readily appears to be of a flawed and non-representative bottle of 2000 HBL.
Last edited by ChristopherSK on August 24th, 2019, 7:44 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#35 Post by Jay Miller » August 24th, 2019, 7:33 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 7:47 am
Wow.

I should be censored on my recent, unfavorable notes on the 2004 Pontet Canet and the 2003 Joguet.
Obviously Alex's real crime was not including a trigger warning in his thread title
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#36 Post by Craig G » August 24th, 2019, 7:59 am

Never in the field of wine criticism was so much written by so few about so little.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#37 Post by Alex Rychlewski » August 24th, 2019, 8:08 am

Christopher,

This is a rather hallucinatory conversation.

What in the world is my ”ethical responsibility” you speak of? What can that possibly mean? That people have no right to criticize wines? This is unreal!
If you see an awful film, and you have a blog about movies, you shouldn’t say so?
What is this?

OK, I get the point that storage may have been an issue. You have stated this several times. Are people supposed to dismiss any negative impressions they may have and put them down to poor storage? I don’t think so.
Should they be open to revisiting the same wine and possibly revising their opinion? Well, yes, and I’ve already said so. Do they have a moral obligation to do so? No, because it is deucedly difficult to procure second bottles and life is just too short.
Should their reviews therefore be taken with a grain of salt? Most definitely yes – as is everyone’s opinion, including yours and mine!

I am not in any way ashamed of my tasting note.
You have to tell it the way you see it. That’s the whole point of criticism. That’s what wine blogs are all about.

There is a “comments” section on my site. As far as I know it is active and functioning.

You spoke to me of an e-mail sent about this same 2000 HBL. Well, I never received it. If I had, I would undoubtedly have answered. I’m very good that way . I can’t explain why it never ended up in my in box.

Your daughter wondered why my impressions were apparently diametrically opposed to those of Jeff. Well, is he the gold standard? Don’t people have different tastes? Isn’t this pretty basic and obvious?

You write that you are surprised that I would “not want to incredibly soon re-taste the 2000 HBL”. Well, for starters, it was the only bottle I had!!! If there were any more, and seeing as the bottle I had was clearly past its best, I would have stood it up waiting to be consumed in the near future. But I cannot just snap my fingers and find 20-year-old wines (OK, 19 years…) like that!

I do not think you can presume to say what hypothetical reviewers on Cellartracker would say if they had drunk the same bottle as me… You know, it’s like TripAdvisor. You have all sorts of comments. Sometimes opposite opinions are, in fact, justified. It all depends on context. Wines can be off, just as restaurants can. Please note, however, and to answer your criticism, that the problem I had was not brett or TCA or any classic defect. It was just blah and tired and clearly past its best.

The basic problem with everything you have written in this thread is the following sentence “My disagreement is how you decide to go from impression to opinion about the 2000 HBL in general”.
No, no, and no. You’ve got it all wrong. I simply described a wine I had. Period. I did not claim that it represented the entire production, that it couldn’t be better from someone else’s cellar, that this was the last word. No, not at all. You drew that conclusion all on your own. And it is erroneous.

I don’t think I can go much further with this Christopher.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#38 Post by ChristopherSK » August 24th, 2019, 8:20 am

I will respond a little later, but my daughter's opinion about the wine (2000 HBL) that we drank back on Christmas day of 2016 was based on the wonderful nectar that she just tasted, and the smell of the wine that we just drank.....a bottle of 2000 HBL that IS representative of how a properly stored bottle of the wine would taste. We went to Jeff's web site to get the background information about the Chateau. I guess I am going to have to buy you a bottle of the 2000 HBL from the Chateau.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#39 Post by Julian Marshall » August 24th, 2019, 8:20 am

Just as an aside, I was lucky enough to pick up a case of HBL 1990 in perfect condition, many years ago. It was cheap and I didn't expect fireworks, but every bottle was incredibly good, so much so that we did a direct comparison once with Lynch-Bages 1990, with some friends. Every one of us preferred the HBL, much to our astonishment. This doesn't say anything about the wines' relative merits - they were both great wines, but on that particular evening, the HBL showed better. I've no doubt that nowadays the placings would be reversed. I'm still waiting for the same depth and concentration from subsequent HBL vintages and with the 90, I think I was just really lucky because I've never seen any TN as enthusiastic as mine were.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#40 Post by Rudi Finkler » August 24th, 2019, 8:36 am

I remember well the 1990 Haut-Bages Libéral, Julian. It was indeed a splendid wine. A real eye-opener.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#41 Post by Rudi Finkler » August 24th, 2019, 8:40 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 24th, 2019, 7:00 am
...
No doubt, this thread is a total downer.
But entertaining nontheless... :-)
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#42 Post by John Morris » August 24th, 2019, 8:56 am

Craig G wrote:
August 24th, 2019, 7:59 am
Never in the field of wine criticism was so much written by so few about so little.
[winner.gif]
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#43 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 24th, 2019, 9:12 am

Craig G wrote:
August 24th, 2019, 7:59 am
Never in the field of wine criticism was so much written by so few about so little.
Post of the thread for sure.

It's a god-damned 2000 HBL for crying out loud. One bottle of a middling bdx that by all rights should be entering adolescence. Novels have consumed fewer words!

Let it go. Alex said what he thought about a particular bottle. Maybe we all would agree if we had been there; maybe he'd be out on a limb. But his note is 100% accurate in reflecting his opinion at the time about that bottle. Right or wrong, how this can be construed as a crime against nature or some sort of felony that needs to be "called out" is beyond me.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#44 Post by ChristopherSK » August 24th, 2019, 9:22 am

Neal. How about if you and I go halfsies and split the cost of buying and shipping Alex a 2000 HBL from Chateau?
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#45 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 24th, 2019, 9:25 am

Time for the ignore button. I’m out.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#46 Post by Jeff Leve » August 24th, 2019, 9:27 am

ChristopherSK wrote:
August 24th, 2019, 9:22 am
Neal. How about if you and I go halfsies and split the cost of buying and shipping Alex a 2000 HBL from Chateau?
If it means that much to you, you should buy a bottle and send it to Alex!

If that is not with it to you, after all the time you’ve spent posting about it, perhaps you can open this up to Kickstarter.

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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#47 Post by Rudi Finkler » August 24th, 2019, 10:03 am

Don’t get discouraged, Christopher! :-)
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#48 Post by ChristopherSK » August 24th, 2019, 10:37 am

Jeff, Kickstarter is a great idea. TY as it did not come to my mind. With Kickstarter funding we can get Alex a full day at HBL, a complete immersion experience, including a tasting of the 1990, the 1996, 2000 and the 2005 HBL.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#49 Post by ChristopherSK » August 24th, 2019, 10:45 am

Neal, Alex did not commit a felony. Nothing close. It'd only an unclassified misdemeanor of the Unified Wine Code (UWC) that has no potential under the statute for incarceration or probation.
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Re: TN: 2000 Château Haut-Bages Libéral (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

#50 Post by Josh Grossman » August 24th, 2019, 10:51 am

John Morris wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 7:05 am
ChristopherSK wrote:
August 23rd, 2019, 5:56 am
Lastly, Alex, I emailed you through the email address on your blog back on Christmas day 2016 and asked you to pull your review of the 2000 HBL from your blog. I hope you can either pull/delete the blog post, or perhaps update it based upon a tasting of a representative bottle of the wonderful 2000 Chateau Haut Bages Liberal.
So you're censoring other people's wine reviews? [scratch.gif]
It's wine philosophy (at least that's what art philosophy is).

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