0 immediate, 2 marketplace
Average critic rating : 100.0 points
Tasted 5 Times With Consistent Notes||The 1945 Haut-Brion is profound. It demonstrates the essence of Haut-Brion's style. The color remains a healthy, opaque garnet with only slight amber at the edge. A huge, penetrating bouquet of sweet black fruits, smoked nuts, tobacco, and tar soars from the glass. The wine possesses extraordinary density and extraction of fruit, massive, full-bodied, unctuously-textured flavors that reveal little tannin, and copious quantities of glycerin and alcohol. It is a fabulously rich, monumental example of a fully mature Haut-Brion that exhibits no signs of decline. Awesome!|| Wine Advocate.October, 1994
Haut-Brion: The Importance
Representing the epitome of quality and tradition, Château Haut-Brion in the Graves appellation of Pessac-Léognan is the oldest of all of the Bordeaux Grand Crus, and the only one of the five Premier Cru Classés of the 1855 Classification not found in the Médoc.
The winemaking at Haut-Brion has remained in the same family for close to 100 years, and Robert Parker writes of this family that “all things considered – there are probably no more experienced and talented Bordeaux wine deities than the Delmas family.” This is directly reflected in the wine produced at Haut-Brion, which is extraordinarily consistent and outstanding year upon year. Several vintages have been awarded perfect scores by Parker, with some of the best vintages produced at this estate have been 1989, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015. Praising the 2009 vintage, Parker writes that there is “an extraordinary nose of plum, blueberry, raspberry, crushed rock, and that intriguing floral as well as unsmoked cigar tobacco note (a classic sign of this terroir) [with] freshness, vibrancy and precision that is historic and possibly unprecedented. Some graphite emerges as the wine sits in the glass, but the wine is very thick while at the same time precise and elegant. This is the quintessential expression of one of the greatest wine terroirs of the world.”
The number of cases produced by this estate has more than halved since the 1980’s, clearly showing the estate’s growing focus of lower yields and stricter selection, and has meant that at approximately 10,000 cases a year, Haut-Brion is the rarest and most in-demand of all the first growths, and extremely popular during En Primeur campaigns.
Haut-Brion: The Insight
Haut-Brion also produces a white wine, which is regarded as one of the best and most sought-after white wines in the world. It is an almost equal blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, and fulfils the wish of the Larrieu family who owned the estate in the 19th century, to create a dry white wine with the intensity of aromas found in a sweet wine. Of the 2012, Parker writes that it is “easily the top wine of Pessac-Léognan, [and] has extraordinary flesh and intensity, with an unctuousness and thickness that is almost hard to believe for a dry white wine. The high proportion of Semillon in this blend has given the wine an almost liquid mandarin orange note intermixed with caramelized citrus, honeysuckle, fig and crushed rock. This absolutely profound dry white wine is full-bodied and capable of lasting 40-50 years.”
Although comparisons are often drawn between Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut Brion due to the fact that they are owned by the same family and their close geographical proximity, the style of wine produced at the estates is extremely different, largely due to the fact that while Haut-Brion lies in Pessac-Léognan, the bulk of the vineyards of La Mission Haut-Brion are in Talence, which possesses different terroir and soil.
Two second wines are produced at Haut-Brion, the Clarence de Haut-Brion, which was originally called Bahans Haut-Brion and the name changed to honour the owner’s ancestor, and La Clarté de Haut-Brion, which is the second wine of both Haut-Brion Blanc and La Mission Haut-Brion’s white wine. Parker, writing about the red second wine, writes that it is “consistently one of the best second wines produced in Bordeaux and also one of my favourites.”
The vineyard at Haut-Brion is planted to 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Franc, with the final wine usually containing a higher proportion of Merlot than the other first growths, and the part of the vineyard dedicated to white grape varieties is planted to 63% Sémillon and 37% Sauvignon Blanc.
The winemaking has remained in the same family for three generations, showcasing how the expertise has been passed down from generation to generation and refined along the way. George Delmas, who had been the director at Cos d’Estournel became the director of Haut-Brion in 1923, and was joined by his son in 1961, who retired in 2004 to advise Château Montrose, handing the reigns to his son Jean-Philippe.
Haut-Brion: The Background
Although evidence of wine-growing on the land that now makes up Château Haut-Brion can be found going back to 1426, the estate as we know it now came into existence when construction for the château began in 1549, although wine had been regularly produced at this estate since 1521.The first reference to Haut-Brion in the press can be found in a document that is considered the first official review of any wine, when in April 1663, Samuel Pepys wrote following a tasting of Haut-Brion that he had “drank a sort of French wine called Ho-Bryan that hath a good and most particular taste I never met with.”
In 1935, the estate was purchased by a New York financier called Clarence Dillon, and has stayed in this family ever since. The estate is now owned by Clarence Dillon’s great-grandson, Robert de Luxembourg who runs it alongside his mother, the Princess of Luxembourg. This family also own the sister estate of Château La Mission Haut-Brion, as well as Château Quintus in St Émilion (formerly Château Tertre Daugay) and Clarendelle.
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