|Grapes||Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Merlot|
|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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Features red and black currant fruit flavors, laced with bramble, apple wood and anise notes, backed by a powerfully rendered finish. Despite the heft and density, this comes off as refined, with streamlined tannins, buried acidity and a long finish of incense and red tea elements. Not as dense and backward as the top years, but still exhibits pedigree. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2024 through 2040. Drinking range: 2024 - 2040James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator(Jan 2020)
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)
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, www.vinous.com(May 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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