1. How old were you when you had your first "wine moment" and what was it?
I was almost a year old and I couldn’t walk yet. My grandfather opened a bottle of champagne at the other end of the room and on that moment I got up, I crossed the room and I walked for the first time. Just to go taste this festive wine.
Later, the beauty of the vineyards of Haut-Bailly attracted me, its charm attached me, and the passion for the job anchored me there.
2. You have taken over the family torch of your grandfather, Jean Sanders, but can you tell us a little about your career before Haut-Bailly?
I studied literature, economics and marketing. I first worked in market research at Publicis in Paris and Prague. But when I lived in Hamburg, it was Jean-Jacques de Bethmann, the owner of Château Olivier, who got me started in the wine business.
3. You are one of the few women in Bordeaux to run a wine estate. Have you faced a lot of challenges and do you notice an evolution?
I always considered that being a woman was an advantage, even when we were not very numerous. And then, challenges always help us grow. But I especially believe in the complementarity between men and women; having the chance to work in harmony by sharing our visions is great. The team of Haut-Bailly is sensational.
4. Tell us about the history and traditions of Château Haut-Bailly.
Located at the gates of Bordeaux, in the heart of the Pessac-Léognan appellation, Château Haut-Bailly has dominated for over four centuries a vineyard of 30 hectares. Its unique topography, its climate and the richness of its soils give it an incredible constancy. Established on one of the highest points of the appellation, Château Haut-Bailly benefits from a mosaic of soils composed of gravels resting on clay and shell-marl. This exceptional terroir is the guarantee of a great regularity whatever the vintage. The vineyard also reveals centuries-old parcels rich in various grape varieties - with classic Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots complemented with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere - representing each year up to 20% of the blend, a guarantee of finesse and depth.
5. What did you change in the vineyard when you took over the management of the Château in 2000 and what is your philosophy?
With the arrival of Bob Wilmers in 1998, Haut-Bailly quickly started rebuilding, at first in the vineyard with a soil study conducted by Professor Denis Dubourdieu. Agricultural buildings have been built and the cellars were redesigned to optimize the route of the grape, from the vine to the bottle. The castle is also the subject of a beautiful heritage renovation. Thanks to these important investments, the property has entered the twenty-first century with confidence and ambition.
But we are also always looking to the future and are mobilized by the desire to push ever further the quality of our wines. This is how Haut-Bailly is involved in various initiatives such as the research for molecules who are at the origin of aromas related to the aging of Bordeaux wines, up to the accompaniment of the first pruning diploma in respect of the sap flow.
Finally we also participate in several research groups to improve the quality of wines while reducing the environmental impact.
6. What is your dream for Château Haut-Bailly in the future?
To continue demonstrating vintage after vintage how exceptional our terroir really is. Colonizing the future is our responsibility today.
That's why, thinking right now of our future, we have embarked on an ambitious project to respond to the evolution of our businesses and to make a long-term commitment. This is what Bob Wilmers wanted as it is he who initiated it. His family, pursuing his will for Haut-Bailly, intends to continue his work. His achievement will allow Haut-Bailly to continue to progress, maintaining the dynamic instilled by the team and kept in place for twenty years. The project will be carried out in two phases, the first ending in the spring of 2020 for the construction of new cellars and the second in 2021 for the reorganization of existing buildings.
7. Let's talk about wines. How would you describe your wine style?
The wines of Haut-Bailly combine classicism and modernity, elegance and finesse, flexibility and structure. These are wines who will aging perfectly and who are extremely flexible despite the high proportion of cabernets. Sometimes considered very feminine, this inimitable style is marked by charm.
8. How do you try to preserve this style?
To produce a great wine is to respect a terroir, a personality. It is also knowing how to adapt to the different climatic conditions each year. Finally, it is not to follow the latest trends, but to keep one's soul and to trust the secret of the expression of the soil of Haut-Bailly.
9. In 2009 you received a score of 100/100 from Robert Parker. What is your favorite vintage?
Over the last 20 years, we have been fortunate enough to produce an incredible series of great wines. I like 2000 and 2005, but 2001, 2004, 2008 are vintages that are particularly close to my heart. And then we were blessed by the gods in 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2018 ... The strength of Haut-Bailly is its consistency!
10. If you had not become a winemaker, what would you do?
Do not dream your life but live your dream ... with passion and happiness!
Click here for an overview of all the wines from Château Haut-Bailly