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2013 1er Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan

Colour Red
Origin France, Bordeaux
Village Pessac-Léognan
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: 92-92 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, 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, 2014)

Haut-Brion was the least distinguished of the First Growths in 2013, at least for me, partly because it seemed so hard, acidic and unyielding. There’s good structure here, with fine tannins and minerally acidity, but is there enough fruit sweetness? 2020-26 Rating: 93 Tim Atkin MW, 2014)

(50 Merlot, 46 Cabernet Sauvignon, 4 Cabernet Franc) Only 28hl/ha instead of 44hl/ha in a normal vintage. There were only 5000 cases of Haut-Brion and 3000 cases of La Mission Haut-Brion made - these are the smallest yields since 1991 (and its brutal frost). You have to go back to 1969 to find a vintage with this much rain. Taste-wise, the nose is incredibly attractive, with hedgerow fruit (unusually in this vintage the Merlot shines through), woodsmoke, tobacco and bark. The palate is concentrated, classical, as always, balanced and polished with serious length, too. The wine is tannic though. Prince Robert of Luxembourg thinks it is a forward H-B, but I sense a hard edge here which will need to soften. As this noble creation can live for 70 years, perhaps he means it will drink well in 25 years! Rating: 18++ Matthew Jukes 2014)

Closed nose, with better fruit concentration on the palate. Fine, dusty tannins with great persistence on the finish. Rather light body. Dry and savoury, but hardly brimming with potential. An early-drinking style. As Steven Spurrier says, beautifully polished. (RH) Drink 2020-2030. Rating: 16.5 Richard Hemming MW - 2014)

Superb colour, lovely earthy black fruit spices nose, wonderful texture of velvety fruit in the La Tâche style, with tannins for the future, undeniable depth and class. Drink: 2018-2035. Rating: 18.25 Steven Spurrier(Apr 2014)

This has weight and density, with dark plum, raspberry coulis and red currant fruit showing well already, lined with obvious but racy and integrated tannins. The finish is long and tinged with violet, tobacco and star anise notes, with lovely energy. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Rating: 91–94 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator(Apr 2014)

Smoke, tobacco, incense and game meld into a core of black stone fruits as the 2013 Haut-Brion shows off its personality. Like most of the reds in this range, the 2013 really needs time in the glass to blossom. Violets, lavender and melted road tar develop over time in a striking, vivid wine endowed with class as well as considerable potential. Haut-Brion is one of the more overtly muscular, broad-shouldered wines of the year. It will be interesting to see what time in barrel brings, but there is a lot to look forward to. The 2013 is 50% Merlot, 45.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4.5% Cabernet Franc. Rating: 91-94 Antonio Galloni, 2014)

The 2013 Château Haut-Brion is a blend of 50% Merlot, 4.5% Cabernet Franc and 45.5% Cabernet Sauvignon picked at the same time as La Mission, with 13.10% alcohol. I made two visits to the estate at the beginning and end of my visit. The bouquet is stubborn and reticent at this stage, expressing little in the way of fruit and refusing to really deliver the complexity of a First Growth. The palate is medium-bodied and a little fleshier than the La Mission thought that acidity level is noticeable, rendering this sharp and very linear. This feels somehow autumnal and leafy despite its nascence, but at least there is decent length. As a huge admirer of Jean-Philippe Delmas' work at the estate, but on this occasion there is something almost workmanlike about it, an absence of gravitas and flair that the La Mission appears to muster. Rating: 89-91 Neal Martin, 2014)

This has one of the best finishes of all 2013 Bordeaux reds. Full and balanced with medium density in the mid-palate, but it lasts for minutes on the finish. Tobacco, currant and spice character. Only 13.1% alcohol. Rating: 92-93 James Suckling, 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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