New record for 1989 Haut-Brion
Haut-Brion’s 1989 vintage reached a new high on Liv-ex’s trading platform this week at £14,846 per case.The new record is well above the First Groeth’s previous high of £14,500, which it achieved during the market’s high point in 2011.
According to the Liv-ex blog, since the market’s nadir in July 2014: “The Haut Brion Index – tracking the prices of the last ten physical vintages – is up 15.8%. It is currently the second best performing first growth behind Mouton Rothschild.”
Awarded 100 points by Robert Parker, the wine is largely regarded as the equivalent of 1945 Mouton Rothschild, 1961 Latour or 1982 Lafite. Originally released in 1990 for £480 per case, by April this year it had appreciated an astonishing 3,600%.
As Liv-ex notes, Haut-Brion’s other 100-point jewels include the 2005, 2009 and 2010 all of which are currently trading for less than £5,000 per case. Is now the time for savvy investors to buy?
There is an amazing dual hit of black fruit and fine-grained tannins here, which is rounded off with a wonderful creaminess. The fruit is encased in a huge structure, which is not always easy to assess when tasting en primeur, but it has a lovely fleshiness to it and the wine is multi-layered with flavours evolving in the mouth. Notes of cocoa, vanilla and tar show towards the finish and it all ends completely seamlessly. The tannins are extremely ripe and well-integrated. Ch. Haut-Brion is often understated at this stage, which serves to underline how fine this wine will be.
Château Haut-Brion Thomas Jefferson, the american ambassador to Paris and later President of the United States of America, visited Haut Brion on May 25th 1787 commenting in his journals about the soils of the vineyards as well as mentioning that there were four vineyards of first quality Château Margaux, Château Latour Ségur, Château Haut Brion and Château La Fite. He also wrote:"Haut Brion is a wine of the first rank and seems to please the American palate more than all the others that I have been able to taste in France.“ Jean de Pontac began constituting the Haut-Brion vineyard, in the Graves region, in 1525.
His descendants went on to produce "New French Claret," the precursor of today's great wines. Their efforts enabled Arnaud III de Pontac to sell his wine under the estate's name as early as 1660. Called “vin de Pontac”, then Haut-Brion, it gained a fine reputation and enormous success in London. The first of the Bordeaux great growths was born. Through the centuries, the owners and managers of Haut-Brion have been obsessed with perpetuating the château's reputation for quality. Classified a First Growth in 1855, Haut-Brion has done everything possible ever since then to maintain its standing. To perpetuate its Grand Cru status, an estate and its constituent parts have to be maintained over the centuries, suitable grape varieties for each plot have to be chosen, and a relentless selection process carried out. Today, a great American family, the Dillons, has been continuing this tradition for seventy years.
A VERY EXCEPTIONAL YEAR
A very hot year and also very dry ; such years produce great vintages.
Here is what we can say about this wine today : First, the wine shows great concentration of aromas and a lot of mellowness due to lovely tannins and a rather low acidity. A wine with a lot of fitness and harmony. One might compare it to the 1959 for its
structure and mellowness. Similar weather conditons produced a rather similar
crop. The grapes for the white wine were gathered on August 29 & 30 and the harvest really started for the red on August 31st.
Sum of temperatures : 3408 °C
Rain : 355 mm
Days where temperature above 30 °C : 24
Harvest : from 29/08/1989 to 20/09/1989
Current vintage notes
Historically an early vintage. The growing season was particularly hot,sunny and
dry providing ideal conditions for budding, flowering, veraison, maturity and
harvest. An exceptional year produced an exceptional wine.
Dueling Haut Brions
Two wines stand above all the others on the Left Bank in 1989; dueling Haut Brions, as I often like to say. Even though these two legendary wines have the same owners, the wines could not be any more different. There is one important fact, though, that is similar for both these beauties; they are essentials for the cellar of any serious claret collector, monuments to their category. The greatest fact about these two wines is their consistency. While many Bordeaux shut down and go into a shell, these have been rock stars from the very beginning, always drinking phenomenally.
My most recent bottle of 1989 La Mission Haut Brion was a perfect example of this wine. Its nose was black and chocolaty, with midnight fruit and some slightly salted mixed nuts for added complexity. There was classic cassis and cigar, with caramel and also charcoal. Its fruit was beyond rich; it was wealthy. Pencil really came out on the palate along with dense forest flavors and a slaty, dry finish. There was outstanding acidity to this dense wine. Secondary flavors of coffee and blueberry joined the party. My host commented how he has always liked the ’89 La Miss more ‘right now’ compared to the wine to which it is often compared, the 1989 Haut Brion (97).
And the 1989 Haut Brion was served next, right on cue. I have long and repeatedly extolled the virtues of this wine, but it never gets old. This wine is one of the greatest ever made, so much so that I would put it in my top ten of all-time, and for a wine this young, that is saying something. There is no other young wine, with the exception of 1989 Petrus, that has shown consistently this great every time I have it, and I have had this wine close to twenty times. Its aromas were ‘insane,’ open yet reticent, so seductive as if it was standing behind a lace curtain. There was an abundance of nuts and minerals along with endless length, and poise. Carob and spice emerged in this incredible wine (99).
I have the good fortune of having 1989 Haut Brion basically quarterly, so I could fill the next two pages with other notes on the wine. The La Mission is indeed more forward and exuberant, spilling out of its shirt so to speak, but the Haut Brion will never even let you see a wrinkle. They are both magnificent wines that should age effortlessly well beyond 2040.
Recommended glass shape
Average Bottle Price
|1 490€ +16.7%||1 277€ +8.4%||1 178€ -13.8%||1 366€ +37.0%||997€ -31.5%||1 455€ +13.9%||1 277€ +153.4%||504€ +128.1%||221€|