Meeting with Philippe Baillarguet
Clos des Baies - Bordeaux
Discretion and precision have guided the steps of Philippe Baillarguet in Saint-Émilion since his beginnings as cellar master at Château Moulin Saint Georges and then in 1997 at the legendary Château Ausone.
Cultivating this quest for excellence is rooted in him. For this winegrower’s son and grandson, being connected to the land to harvest the fruit of his labour is in his blood. In 2006, the opportunity arose to take over a few acres and in 2010 Clos des Baies was born. Convinced by organic viticulture from the start, Philippe works the 1.15 hectares / 2.85 acres according to organic principles to produce two great “garden wines”: Clos des Baies and Face Baies, distributed exclusively by Vignobles et Châteaux.
How was Clos des Baies born?
Initially, I was not thinking about having my own estate. I experience excellence on a daily basis at Château Ausone and after the birth of my children, the I felt the desire to make wine for myself.
In 2006, an opportunity arose to lease 30 ares / 0.75 acres, then I was lucky enough to find beautiful clay-limestone soils in Saint-Laurent des Combes. I fell in love with it when I went into the vineyards. It was very intuitive and I had no doubts about the place. This place thrilled me. Everything came together to make things of beauty. This was in 2010, when Clos des Baies started up.
I was lucky enough to find beautiful clay-limestone soils in Saint-Laurent des Combes. This place thrilled me. This was in 2010, when Clos des Baies started up.
What is the working philosophy on the estate?
I have always worked the vines of Clos des Baies organically and obtained the Ecocert label (2023). The vines were quite old, around 50 years old, so the priority was to replant. It’s a long-term job and I’m still working with low yields. A vineyard technical advisor also provides me with his expertise on the life of the soil, so that I can make the transition to biodynamic in the coming years.
How is life organised at Clos des Baies?
I take care of the vinification and ageing from start to finish. Winemaking is a cascade of decisions that will have an irreversible impact on the wine. This is a step that I am unable to delegate because, to be precise, you have to master these successive actions. In the vineyard, Jean-Luc takes care of the pruning work, the green harvest… He is an outstanding winegrower. We work with complete trust and I don’t even measure myself against him on this part.
How do you like to talk about your two wines?
I try to make wines that thrill people and give pleasure.
We are on very different terroirs. Clos des Baies is on clay-limestone soils. It is a full-bodied wine with character. Face Baies, on sandy-gravel soils, is a 100% Cabernet Franc cuvée that never ceases to amaze me with its immediate pleasure and the complexity that develops over time.
For this, I work the two wines in a similar way. I bring in the hand-picked destemmed harvest without crushing because of the small quantities, then the grapes are worked by punching down. I try to bring out the fruit and look for complexity with longer fermentations.
Movie: Clint Eastwood as director
Music: rock’n roll, Interpol
Vintage: 2009, I like a lot of wines from this vintage
Memorable bottle: Château Lafite 1982, one of the first bottles I ever tasted.
Dish: a very rare steak
Destination: the Pacific Islands with New Caledonia, Tahiti…
Perfect Sunday: a roast chicken with mashed potatoes for family lunch followed by a walk.