Something about Haut Brion
The oldest of Bordeaux’s Grands Crus, Château Haut-Brion has a rich heritage born from five centuries of history. Founded in 1533 by Jean de Pontac in the territory of the Graves, the wine of Château Haut-Brion was coveted and appreciated by the greatest monarchs in Europe early on. In 1663, Samuel Pepys, a member of the English Parliament, unknowingly participated in the success of Château Haut-Brion by writing in his journal, “And there, I drank a kind of French wine called Ho-Bryan, which had a very nice and particular flavour that I had never tasted before…” And so, a legend was born.
Château Haut-Brion obtained the rare First Classified Growth title in the 1855 classification, becoming a Premier Grand Cru Classé of Médoc and was also recognised a Classified Growth of Graves in the Graves Official Wine List of 1959.
A veritable jewel of the AOC Pessac-Léognan, located in the heart of the Pessac agglomeration in the Bordeaux region, Château Haut-Brion enjoys an exceptional terroir, with soils composed of multicoloured gravel, which make for sumptuous, elegant wines that are incredibly consistent from one vintage to the next. When safely guarded, the wines of Château Haut-Brion open discreetly, allowing new aromas to emerge after aeration (chocolate, roasted notes, cedar). On the palate, the tannins reveal a power and a surprising length. An exceptional wine, Château Haut-Brion’s Grand Vin is destined for a remarkable ageing potential, blooming superbly over multiple decades.
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What a blockbuster effort! Atypically powerful, one day, the 2009 Haut-Brion may be considered to be the 21st century version of the 1959. It is an extraordinarily complex, concentrated effort made from a blend of 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc with the highest alcohol ever achieved at this estate, 14.3%. Even richer than the perfect 1989, with similar technical numbers although slightly higher extract and alcohol, it offers up a sensational perfume of subtle burning embers, unsmoked cigar tobacco, charcoal, black raspberries, wet gravel, plums, figs and blueberries. There is so much going on in the aromatics that one almost hesitates to stop smelling it. However, when it hits the palate, it is hardly a letdown. This unctuously textured, full-bodied 2009 possesses low acidity along with stunning extract and remarkable clarity for a wine with a pH close to 4.0. The good news is that there are 10,500 cases of the 2009, one of the most compelling examples of Haut-Brion ever made. It requires a decade of cellaring and should last a half century or more. Readers who have loved the complexity of Haut-Brion should be prepared for a bigger, richer, more massive wine, but one that does not lose any of its prodigious aromatic attractions.
The 2009 Haut-Brion is deep garnet colored and slightly closed and shy to begin, slowly unfurling to reveal sensuous notions of warm blackberries, plum preserves, mulberries and blackcurrant cordial with touches of star anise, mocha and damp soil. Full-bodied, taut and tightly wound in the mouth, the palate delivers mouth-coating black fruit and mineral layers with a very firm frame of ripe, grainy tannins, finishing long and earthy. This needs time! Drink 2020-2054.
The 2009 Haut-Brion has a less precocious but more detailed bouquet, more nuanced perhaps with warm slates baking in the summer sun, tilled loam and cedar infusing the black fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, perfect acidity, layers of mineral-rich black fruit. This seems to have gained more complexity in recent years and is beginning to flirt with perfection. It’s not there yet, but it is moving in that direction. 2023 - 2065
Aromas of forest floor, currants and blueberries, with hints of fresh tobacco and sliced mushrooms. Turns to orange peel and blueberries. Full-bodied, with incredible structure. This is so powerful in tannins, yet so polished. This is the most structured Haut-Brion that I have ever tasted. This has 15% Cabernet Franc, which is more than normal and perhaps giving the wine a little more tannic structure. A monumental Haut-Brion made to age for centuries. I have never tasted a young Haut-Brion, with such spellbinding power and depth. A modern 1945 or 1961 HB? Better than the legendary 1989? Try in 2021
Tasted blind. Deep crimson with some green leafiness. Much fresher than most 2009 first growths. Thick and with masses of ripe fruit but a mass of tannin too. Great undertow of exciting activity as though the compounds in here were in a ferment of activity. Really thrilling. Though a little bit dusty going back to it. 14.5%