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2014 Blanc Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan

Colour White
Origin France, Bordeaux
Village Pessac-Léognan
Classification Cru Classé
ABV 13%

Impressive stuff. There is more oak toastiness on the nose here - reminded of tasting young Burgundy, but there is a lovely bright fruit that comes to life. Warm lemons a whiff of honey and lovely woodspice - this is a complex, broad beast - wonderful but will take some time to unwind - weighty but incredibly slick. 68% Semillon, 32% Sauvignon. Rating: 95 L&S (Apr 2015)

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The 2014 Haut-Brion Blanc is very closed on the nose despite encouragement. The palate is medium-bodied with a fine bead of acidity, fresh in the mouth but lacking the same complexity as the Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, somewhat bitter on the finish. This is a very strange showing and I am not the only taster that cannot make head nor tail of this wine that showed spectacularly after bottling. Tasted blind at the annual Southwold tasting.Neal Martin, 2018)

The Château Haut-Brion Blanc 2014 is a blend of 32% Sauvignon Blanc and 68% Sémillon picked between 3 and 11 September. I found the Sémillon more expressive here and offers waxy, resinous scents intermingling with pear skin and fresh gooseberry. The palate is fresh and vibrant with more weight than the La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc '14: extremely well balanced with spine-tingling poise and power on the finish. You can barely notice the 14.75% alcohol. This is a thrilling Haut-Brion Blanc that vies with Domaine de Chevalier Blanc as "king of the dry whites." Drinking range: 2018 - 2045 Rating: 95-97 Neal Martin, 2015)

My Pessac and graves wine of the vintage. Striking purity with real depth of stone fruit and citrus and beautiful grip and length. It has incredible tension, vigour and purity, thanks to great selection and confident winemaking. There's more Semillon (68%) than some years to balance the high acidity with rich, round lemon curd and apricot. (Outstanding Pessac-Léognan.) Drinking range: 2018 - 2030 Rating: 96 Steven Spurrier(Apr 2015)

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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