CHÂTEAU HAUT BRION

2017 1er Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan

Grapes Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc
Colour Red
Origin France, Bordeaux
Village Pessac-Léognan
Classification 1er Cru Classé

On the nose there is an unmistakable whiff of class here - intense, refined and hugely inviting. 53% Merlot, 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.3% Cabernet Franc. On the palate there is again a very fine feel. A touch more guts and intensity here than the La Mission - and a good jolt of energy comes in too. Again fruit is mature, almost a baked feel, some cocoa and more savoury notes - which balance and underline the measured feel to the fruit. Black berries and plum flesh - some good firm lines of green herbs too and smart wood-spice. This is nicely judged. Incredibly long and lingering finish again displays its pedigree. Rating: 94-95 L&S (Apr 2018)

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The 2017 Haut-Brion was picked from 31 August to 29 September, the longest harvest ever, matured in 69% new oak with 14.25% alcohol (lower than recent vintages.) It has a more generous bouquet than the La Mission Haut-Brion at this point: black cherries, blueberry, a little confit fruit, hints of warm gravel and clove. It is much more restrained than the previous vintages – cooler and linear. The palate is medium-bodied with firm tannin, nicely structured with more grip in the mouth than the La Mission. What it has in common with the aforementioned is a sense of symmetry. It feels very persistent with a light marine/oyster shell influence on the finish. This probably has the edge over the La Mission Haut-Brion at the moment, but intra-family competitiveness aside, it boils down to a great follow-up to the brilliant 2015 and 2016. Drinking range: 2022 - 2050 Rating: 94-96 Neal Martin, vinous.com(May 2018)

The 2017 Haut-Brion is intriguing. Less powerful and explosive than it can be, in 2017 Haut-Brion makes its case with persistence over heft. Time in the glass brings out attractive suggestions of tobacco, game, bacon fat, iron and wild cherry. It will be interesting to see where the 2017 goes from here. Today, it lacks the visceral thrill that makes the best vintages utterly irresistible, even if the phenomenally long finish is a thing of real beauty. The blend is 53% Merlot, 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.3% Cabernet Franc. Rating: 93-96 Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com(May 2018)

Composed of 53% Merlot, 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.3% Cabernet Franc, the very deep purple-black colored 2017 Haut-Brion is a little closed on the nose, revealing fresh blackberries, black currants and dark chocolate with suggestions of pencil shavings, beef drippings, tilled soil and cracked black pepper plus a waft of lavender. Medium to full-bodied, it has very firm, ripe, grainy tannins and a lively backbone structuring the tightly knit earth and black fruit layers, finishing with compelling mineral and perfumed layers. Rating: 95-97 Lisa Perrotti-Brown, RobertParker.com(Apr 2018)

A hugely captivating wine, one of the contenders for red of the vintage. There's an incredible plush, dense texture to the fruit here, with just the slightest pulling back on the final section that suggests the damson, cassis and black cherry fruit is not at the full extent of ripeness seen in 2016 and 2015, but there is absolutely no question that this is a successful, rich and well-expressed wine. It's extremely powerful and well constructed, with great tannins and a succulence which grows through the palate. 3.73pH. Drinking range: 2026 - 2042 Rating: 97 Jane Anson, Decanter(Apr 2018)

The top wine, and unquestionably one of the wines of the vintage, the 2017 Haut Brion checks in as 53% Merlot, 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Cabernet Franc. It’s cut from the same cloth as the Le Clarence de Haut Brion, only with the intensity, richness, and structure turned up. Cold fireplace, smoked earth, black currants, and truffle notes all emerge from this medium to full-bodied, dense, concentrated and surprisingly structured 2017 that stays perfectly balanced and elegant on the palate. It doesn’t have the sheer breadth of the 2015 and 2016, yet is classic Haut Brion all the way. It should match or exceed the 2014. Rating: 94-96 Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com(Apr 2018)

53% Merlot, 6.3% Cabernet Franc, 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested 31 August to 29 September. Colour of black cherries with healthy crimson rim. Warm oak spice over cool dark fruit. Succulent, mouth-watering and so supple. There's a core of pure black fruit and an elegance in both non-sweet fruit and fine-boned structure but all with a discreet generosity. Needs time to meld but it's magnetic in its attraction. Perhaps a little less rich than La Mission but more intense and persistent at this stage. Drinking range: 2027 - 2047 Rating: 17.5+ Julia Harding MW, www.JancisRobinson.com(Apr 2018)

A tight and focused red with dark-berry, chocolate and hazelnut character. Medium to full body, firm and silky tannins and a linear and fine finish. Very refined. Elegant and balanced. Rating: 95-96 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com(Apr 2018)

The blend this year is 53% Merlot, 6.3% Cabernet Franc and 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, the fruit picked between August 31st and September 29th. Aromatically this is more expressive than La Mission Haut-Brion, tasted alongside, with a richer seam of dark cherry fruits, wrapped up with nuances of black olive and truffle, with a broader base of fruit for these complexities to work from. The palate maintains a fresh and focused position, taut and sinewy, cool and bright, with a very focused core of fruit. There are taut and fine-grained tannins, tight and prominent, providing a huge grip but this is countered nicely by the very correct seam of fruit. There are perfumed, violet tinges here. It is long, structured and yet finessed, the focus of the tannins contributing to the wine's imposing and yet focused style. A really impressive example of what the Haut-Brion vineyard is capable of this year. Rating: 96-98 Chris Kissack, www.thewinedoctor.com(Apr 2018)

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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