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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The unbelievably superb 2011 Haut-Brion (a tiny production of 7,600 cases from a blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 19% Cabernet Franc) exhibits a classic nose of subtle smoldering embers, warm rocks, black currants, new saddle leather, spice box and high quality, unsmoked cigar tobacco. The color is a dense ruby/purple to the edge, and the wine cuts a serious as well as broad swath across the palate. The most amazing aspect of this terroir is that the wine, despite all its power and richness, literally dances on the palate, as if it were a 90 pound ballerina. This brilliant 2011 should evolve quickly, hitting its prime in 7-8 years, and drink beautifully for 20-25 years.
The Haut Brion is a blend of 34.8% Merlot, 18.9% Cabernet Franc and 46.3% Cabernet Sauvignon. The bouquet has a little more thrust than the La Mission with a little more opulence, although perhaps not the same degree of clarity and showing slightly more alcohol (but nothing to get concerned about.) It has good weight, firm rigid tannins and a weightier framework than La Mission. It is concentrated and generous with very good focus, a crescendo of flavours towards the finish and very good grip. A masterful Haut-Brion that is more voluminous than La Mission at present. Tasted April 2012.
Lots of subtle redcurrant and berry character, with flowers and sweet tobacco on the nose. Full body, super-integrated tannins and a light shaved-chocolate, berry and cedar character. A decadence and beauty to this that wakes you up. Better in 2018.
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