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Our Haut Brion wines

Parker Score
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Wine Vintage Case size Price/case Cases
Bahans Haut Brion20066×75cl£325188LessMore
Tour Haut Brion200512×75cl£470289LessMore

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Chateau Haut-Brion

The most famous property in Pessac-Leognan, the northernmost corner of the Graves district of Bordeaux, today managed alongside La Mission Haut-Brion (purchased 1983) of the same appellation. Its well-documented reputation no doubt led to its position as the earliest chateaux to be cited as designated 1er Cru Classe in the famous 1855 Classification of Bordeaux; indeed it is the only such wine to be so outside the Medoc. 

The history of Chateau Haut-Brion can be traced back further than that of any other Bordeaux classed growth, with wine from the estate recorded in the cellar entries of King Charles II of England (1630-1685) as ‘wine of Hobriono’ to be served to the monarch’s guests. During this time Samuel Pepys made his famous entry in his diary of 10 April 1663 ‘drank a sort of French wine called Ho Bryen that hath a good and most particular taste I never met with’. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), meanwhile, an early American Ambassador to France, noted the quality of Haut-Brion in his 1787 trip famous for his pre-1855 identification of some of Bordeaux’s finest vineyards, extant to this day.

By the early C20th, however, the chateau had fallen into disrepair but saw a reversal of fortune with its purchase in 1935 by Clarence Dillon, an American banker. Dillon undertook a series of restorative innovations most notable in the skilled hands of winemaker Jean-Bernard during the latter half of the C20th. Today the estate is run by Dillon’s great-grandson, Prince Robert of Luxemburg and Jean-Philippe, son of the now retired Jean-Bernard.

Vineyard and winemaking

The estate’s 45 ha/111 acres of vineyards are planted to 45 per cent  Cabernet Sauvignon vines, 18 per cent  Cabernet Franc and 37 per cent Merlot;Haut Brion Blanc, a rare dry white, is grown on 2.7ha. of vineyard and made from some 63 per cent  Sémillon and 37 per cent  Sauvignon Blanc vines. Its scarcity means that it is rarely seen.

Red wine fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats followed by 22 months in new oak barriques bordelaise (225 l/59 gal) then bottled unfiltered. Haut Brion Blanc sees fermentation in new oak and then spends 12-15 months on its lees before bottling. 

Production at Haut-Brion is smaller than that of the other First Growth wines, averaging around 13, 000 cases per year; it can be as much as 20,000 cases. This is shared between the Grand Vin and second wine, formerly Bahans-Haut-Brion (non-vintage until 1976) and changed to Clarence de Haut-Brion for the 2007 vintage in memory of Clarence Dillon. Less than 800 cases of Haut Brion Blanc are produced in most years.

The connoisseur’s First Growth, whose high Merlot content compared to the remaining First Growths, is responsible for its silky voluptuousness, whereby in youth it provides approachable finesse before its Médoc contemporaries without any detraction from its ability to age.

The classiest wine of Pessac-Leognan, Haut-Brion is text-book Graves displaying Montecristo cigar-box aroma, richly fruited cassis and plum with depth of flavor from its spicy, earthy notes. 

 

Haut Brion

 

 

 
RP
JR
Market price
 £/Parker point
2009
98-100
19
7200
 £                   72.73
2008
95-97
18
5200
 £                   54.17
2005
98
17.5+
6100
 £                   62.24
2003
95
17
3890
 £                   40.95
2000
99
18+
7600
 £                   80.00
1998
96
18
4450
 £                   46.84
1995
96
18
4600
 £                   48.42
1990
98
18.5
6800
 £                   71.58
1989
100
19
13950
 £                146.84
1982
95
17.5
7650
 £                   80.53 

 

Prices as of end-March 2011
 
 
 
Market (Price development & background)

Beloved by both the trade and critics and with an apparently broader following than Laifte, Haut-Brion had seen a steady softening of prices over the last 6 years and remains below its high-point of 2004. However, 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 have seen steady price rises driven by strong brand awareness and a perceived quality-backed undervalued status vs. v the remaining first growths, evinced by the market-wide tendency of buying-up lesser scoring recent vintages such as 2001, 2004 and 2007.

This broad-based strengthening of demand for Haut-Brion is a sure indication of a slight broadening of the market among the first growths, along with what would appear to be a widening of the market overall.

 

Haut-Brion at a glance

Commune: Pessac-Leognan

Soils: Similar to Medoc (gravels, sand and clay) with more variation in depth

Climate: Maritime but milder than the Medoc

District: Graves, Left bank south of the Medoc below Bordeaux and parallel to the Garonne river

Classification: 1er Cru Classe

Owner: The Dillon family

Wine-maker: Jean-Phillipe (2003) following father Jean-Bernard (1960)

Vineyard: 45ha/111 acres 

- 42.3ha: 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 37% Merlot

- 2.7ha: 63% Semillon, 37% Sauvignon Blanc

Vinification and ageing: stainless steel, 22 months in new oak barriques

Production: avg 13, 000 cases, maximum 20, 0000 cases

Wines: Haut-Brion (Grand Vin); Clarence de Haut-Brion (second wine); Haut-Brion Blanc

Other properties: La Mission Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan)

 

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