|Classification||1er Cru Classé|
Rich. Much weightier and with more depth than the Mission. Not truly profound, but the sort of wine nevertheless which seems to have more to give, depths to plumb. Is this the first wine this year with layers and a sense of three dimensions? Finishes very black fruit and sloes. Still pretty austere. Rating: 92 L&S (Apr 2014)
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Its bigger sibling, the 2013 Haut-Brion, is a blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. This classic effort tastes like a Haut-Brion, a major accomplishment in this vintage. Slightly fuller, richer and more complete than its nearby rival, La Mission Haut-Brion, it exhibits a deep ruby/purple color as well as hints of scorched earth, barbecue, charcoal, red and black currant, Asian plum sauce and spice notes. Fine-grained tannins are present, but well-integrated, and the acidity is not excessive. The result is a relatively plush, mid-weight, stylish, potentially complex Haut-Brion to drink over the next 15+ years. 2014-2029 Rating: 90-92 Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, www.RobertParker.com (Aug 2014)
(50% merlot, 45.5% cabernet sauvignon and 4.5% cabernet franc; 26 h/h): Dark ruby. Deep, spicy aromas of blackcurrant, aromatic herbs and mint. On the palate, big, deep flavors of red berries and spicy blueberries are accented by sandalwood and aromatic herbs. Mounting tannins coat the palate dry, with the finish featuring underbrush, ink and licorice. This will need plenty of time to resolve its oak tannins. In fact, general director Jean-Philippe Delmas told me he plans to use only 65% new oak (usually 75%) in order to preserve the fruit. One of the toughest and least opulent Haut-Brion in years but it's very faithful to the vintage--which some impenetrably black and almost viscous 2013 wines are not. Rating: 88-91 Ian d'Agata - Stephen Tanzer website (May 2014)
Merlot 50% Cabernet Franc 4.5% Cabernet Sauvignon 45.5% Power depth richness the nose has lots of powerful flavours and the palate has a brooding richness. The mid palate is structured with firm but ripe tannins the mix of cassis and black cherry enriching the back palate. The finish is long with good depth of flavour. 2020-32 Rating: 90-94 Derek Smedley MW, www.dereksmedleymw.co.uk (May 2014)
Château Haut Brion
1855 classification - Premier Grand Cru Classé Château Haut Brion is famously the only estate in Graves to have featured in the 1855 classification reflecting a long established reputation, even if, at the time, the crown was beginning to slip. During the 16th Century, Haut-Brion was briefly owned by Jean de Ségur of the Ségur family who at various times owned both Lafite and Latour. Jean de Pontac inherited Haut Brion as a wedding dowry in 1525 and, apart from a brief period during the French Revolution, his descendents owned the estate until 1801. The Pontacs were an interesting lot, including in their number a very pious Bishop, a politician, and François-Auguste Pontac who started a London inn called l'Enseigne de Pontac where Samuel Pepys enjoyed "a sort of French wine called Ho Bryan", finding it "hath a good and most particular taste". Jonathon Swift, however, thought the wine "dear at seven shillings a flagon" - 35p a bottle, if only! Haut Brion was the first Bordeaux wine known to have been imported into the USA when Thomas Jefferson had six cases shipped home to Virginia. Eventually, in the earlier years of the 19th Century, Haut Brion found its way into the hands of the Larrieu family. Preceding reputation was enough to get Haut Brion classified as a Premier Grand Cru Classé in 1855, and a string of copy cat estates appended "Haut Brion" to their names (a source of some litigation in the 1920's) but in reality the 19th and early 20th Centuries were not great times for the wines of Haut Brion. When the bank seized the assets of Milleret Larrieu after WWI, the estate fell into the hands of the Société des Glacières under who's unenlightened guidance much of the gardens were sold off the make way for expanding city of Bordeaux. They then offered Château Haut Brion to the City of Bordeaux, who turned it down, allowing American financier Clarence Dillon to realise his dream of owning a Bordeaux château, buying the estate in 1935. His descendents own Haut Brion to this day. The gravel soils of Haut Brion are planted with 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc for reds, and a more or less 50/50 split of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for the whites. There are around 45ha under vine. Haut Brion were one of the first estates to ferment in stainless steel. After fermentation, red wines spend up to two years in oak, previoulsy 100% new for the grand vin but, now, more like 35%. The second wine of the estate was known for many years as Bahans Haut Brion, but was renamed recently as Le Clarence de Haut Brion in honour of Clarence Dillon.
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