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 GOOD YEAR 2003
The harvest had shown high sugar levels.Tannic richness is vast, reaching record levels in the Merlots and above all the Cabernets. The lush tannins are also extremely ripe. They are copious, silky, and smooth, filling the mouth and coating the palate with delight. Strangely, the crispness of the fruit usually fades in such conditions. Nothing could be further from the truth in 2003. The wine has retained a highly discernible, smooth and ripe fruitiness, while staying very crisp.
Sum of temperatures : 3696 °C
Rain : 263 mm
Days where temperature above 30 °C : 49
Harvest : from 19/08/2003 to 15/09/2003
Current vintage notes
2003 was without a doubt a very exceptional year in terms of the weather. Although it did not beat the record for lowest rainfall, attained in 1961 (258 mm) for the period April to September inclusive, 2003 comes immediately afterwards with 263 mm. The hundred-year average is 410 mm and in the wettest year; in 1992, 697 mm of rain fell. However, in terms of temperature, all the records were broken. Accumulated average daily temperatures for the above period were around 3,161, with the hottest year (1997) until then reaching 3,494, but for 2003 the figure was 3,696; while the average for very hot days above 30°C/86°F is 16, there were 49 in 2003, more than three times as many!