2016 Bordeaux: Haut Brion, ‘utterly gorgeous with a hand-in-glove power’ Anson

by Beth Thomas

After the bank holiday lull, a very exciting morning in Bordeaux today. We have the release of the Domaine Clarence Dillon wines – most notably HAUT BRION and LA MISSION HAUT BRION – as well as LARCIS DUCASSE and RÉSERVE DE LA COMTESSE.

HAUT BRION is out at £2,490 per 6 bottles IB. We found that this had such extraordinary volume, density, purity and definition that it is surely destined to be a truly great wine. For us it easily reached  – and perhaps just surpassed – the level of LAFITE to be our wine of the vintage. Galloni was just as impressed. To him it was ‘one of the jewels of the vintage‘ (95-98/100). Jancis Robinson gave it a laudable 19/20. Neal Martin called it ‘beautifully balanced‘ and ‘more nimble on its toes‘ than the brilliant 2015. It will certainly be fascinating to compare how these two top vintages develop in the years to come.

In fact, over the last 20 years Haut Brion has arguably been the most consistent of the first growths – something that has probably not been fully reflected in the price. This is right at the low end of our estimate and therefore looks a good buy. Do place orders and we will do our best to meet them but, as ever, availability will be extremely limited.

From the Haut Brion stable is also LE CLARENCE DE HAUT BRION (£590 per 6 bottles IB), HAUT BRION Blanc (£3500 per 6 bottles IB) and LA CLARTÉ DE HAUT BRION (£350 per 6 bottles IB).

Domaine Clarence Dillon’s excellent Saint Emilion QUINTUS (formerly Tertre Daugay) is also out at £560 per 6 bottles IB. We really enjoyed the drive and energy this showed when we tasted it – probably from the higher proportion of Cabernet Franc (30%) in the blend. Galloni loved it too, giving the Quintus an impressive 93-96+/100 and calling it ‘exceptionally vivid and nuanced‘ with a ‘long, sublime finish.‘ This is a great opportunity to get in early at an estate where fortunes (and, most likely, prices) are on the rise. Also out is their second wine LE DRAGON DE QUINTUS at £280 per dozen bottles IB.

LA MISSION HAUT BRION left Neal Martin ‘reaching for the thesaurus looking for superlatives.’ He felt it ‘takes your breath away‘ and was even better than the 2015 which itself, ‘flirted with perfection.’ Neal suggests that La Mission was, ‘perhaps even more pixelated than the “gaff over the road” Haut-Brion.’ We thought that this was undoubtedly a superb wine with deep glossy weight and astonishing length but, for us, it was ever so slightly lacking in flow and poetry so didn’t quite reach that level. Nevertheless, a very fine wine indeed and right at the bottom of our price estimate at £1,980 per 6 bottles IB.

Two wines that should not be overlooked among the Pessac clamour are LARCIS DUCASSE out at £321 per 6 bottles IB and RÉSERVE DE LA COMTESSE at £182.50 per 6 bottles IB. Galloni gave the Larcis Ducasse a notable 94-97/100 saying, ‘quite simply, the 2016 is an exceptional Larcis. Don’t miss it!‘ Galloni felt the same way about La Comtesse and Neal Martin rated it too, calling it ‘a fine Reserve that is on par with the excellent 2015‘ (90-92/100).

As ever, you can keep up to date with everything from #Bdx16 on our Recent Releases page.

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