x
  • Country ranking ?

    277
  • Producer ranking ?

    14
  • Decanting time

    3h
  • When to drink

    now to 2035
  • Food Pairing

    Red meat dishes with robust and concentrated flavours.

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

Read more
Close

100 points Robert Parker: "The dark garnet-colored 1961 Haut-Brion is pure perfection, with gloriously intense aromas of tobacco, cedar, chocolate, minerals, and sweet red and black fruits complemented by smoky wood. This has always been a prodigious effort (it was the debut vintage for Jean Delmas). It is extremely full-bodied, with layers of viscous, sweet fruit. This wine is akin to eating candy. Consistently an astonishing wine!" (02/96) 96 points Wine Spectator: "Very mature, with a smoky, even slightly burnt nuance, but powerful with ripe cherry, toast and tobacco flavors that linger on the solid, smooth finish. A glorious mouthful of wine..."

Read more
Close

The Story

Château Haut-Brion is the oldest and by far the smallest of the "Premiers Grands Crus" vineyards of the Gironde 1855 classification. Château Haut-Brion is one of the few remaining family-owned domains of the Bordeaux region with a history going back to the 16th century. It has been owned by the American Dillon family since 1935.

 

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.

 

 

Read more
Close

Wine Information

1961 A VERY EXCEPTIONAL YEAR
The best vintage since the start of the century. Sumptuous, harmonious, velvety, suave and complex; full of flower and fruit at the same time. An exceptional harmony of smoothed tannin, wood and a very great aromatic length. A unique bottle.

Weather conditions
Sum of temperatures : 3294 °C
Rain : 213 mm
Days where temperature above 30 °C : 27
Harvest : from 12/09/1961 to 25/09/1961

Current vintage notes
A short period of intense cold at the end of May caused exceptional coulure. A hot summer, but above all very dry (the driest on record), and a very fine September yielded a harvest with a maturity and concentration that are simply exceptional."""

 

Read more
Close

Vintage 1961

1961 - the greatest Bordeaux vintage ever?

I’m writing this during the en primeur campaign and notice that the Bordelais château-owners and négociants have been unusually quiet this year. I have followed this part of the market from a distance for close to 30 years now and have been told about a large number of “vintages of the century”. After the wines have been bottled and sold or the other way round, as the case is in Bordeaux, these claims tend to be modified.

Who are the serious contenders for the title “The Greatest Vintage Ever”?

During the 19th century there were a number of vintages with a great reputation made from pre-phylloxera vines. These include the legendary “Comet vintage” 1811, 1864, 1865, 1870, 1893, 1895 and 1899. Most are too old for anyone now alive to have tasted them at their peak.

During the 20th century claims have been raised for the vintages 1900, 1921, 1929, 1945, 1947, 1949 (by me), 1959, 1961, 1982, 1989 and 1990.In the present century already three out the eight vintages produced – 2000, 2003 and 2005 – have been mentioned by an overly excited wine press as candidates for the title, as well as the superb duo - 2009 and 2010.

In the book “The 1,000 Finest Wines Ever Made” 1961 is the Bordeaux vintage mentioned most often, with 22 châteaux. 1945 is mentioned 19 times, 1947 16 times, 1982 14 times and 1959 13 times.

What is the definition of a great wine?

It is a wine that has an extra dimension giving you an unforgettable drinking experience – in other words, a “Wow!” effect. It is a wine that has a long drinking span. It has to be good to drink young, but it must also be able to age for a long time without losing its attractiveness.A good vintage produces wines fulfilling these requirements.

A great vintage, however, is equally good in all major regions of Bordeaux, both on the left and right bank. It is also a vintage where something special was produced in all the different appellations, from the lowest Cru Bourgeois to the mightiest Premier Cru.

1961 fulfils these requirements better than any other vintage.

It was the vintage where the most incompetent winemaker just couldn’t make a poor wine and the wines drank very well at an early stage; in most cases they still do so to this very day.

Some extremely impressive wines were produced in 1945, but these were mainly from the left bank and a large number of the wines had excessively high tannin levels, which made them increasingly dry as they aged.

1947 produced the most stunning wines on the right bank but many wines on the left bank had problems with volatile acidity.

1959 produced a number of wines that are at the same level and sometimes even a bit higher than the corresponding '61s, and some experienced wine critics like Michel Bettane prefer 1959 to 1961. But 1959 doesn't have the same consistent quality at all levels.

1982 undoubtedly produced many very impressive wines but I feel that the wines from the right bank lack structure and have not aged very well and only very few wines from Margaux and Médoc were a great success.The twin vintages of 1989 and 1990, or 2009 and 2010 may come closest in overall quality, but it is too early to judge their ageing abilities yet.

 

What made 1961 so special?

It was a very small crop, the smallest since the Second World War. This was partly due to coulure (cold weather at the time of flowering) and in some parts because of frost on the night between 30th and 31st of May, together reducing the yield per vine to about a third of the usual size at that time (which, compared to today’s harvests, seems miniscule). This concentrated the minerals and potency of the vine amongst the few remaining grapes and was the reason for the success of minor châteaux, which would normally produce much higher yields than would be good for their wines.

August and September were both hot and extremely dry. This drought caused the ripening to take longer than the usually mandated 100 days. The harvest was delayed until 22 September, but enjoyed perfect conditions. Because of better cellaring techniques the wine-makers avoided the hard tannins of 1945 and the volatility of the 1947s. The wines have a very deep colour, a seductive nose and full-bodied, concentrated mature fruitiness, with enough tannins and acidity to give the wines structure and freshness.

I arranged a major tasting of more than sixty 1961s in 1989 and all the wines were very good, even from minor châteaux or from more famous properties that had not produced anything worthwhile for a very long time and some that have not done it to this day.

I also arranged a tasting, together with Dr. Peter Baumann, of fifty wines in November 2001. I had expected a large number of these to now be over their zenith but was amazed to see that many had not seemed to age at all during these intervening 12 years. With very few exceptions they were still very much alive.

 

The wines:

Margaux and Médoc

This is usually the most variable and disappointing group at any horizontal tasting with a large number of underperforming châteaux.

The star of this group and a serious candidate for the wine of the vintage is Château Palmer.

It first reached fame in 1978 as it won the famous Dr. Taam tasting in Holland. It is a precocious wine that was drinkable before most premier crus had softened and many tasters have underestimated its longevity. I remember arranging a tasting for Château Palmer in 1995 where I decanted the wine just before the tasting, believing it to be past its best. It did not show very well so Peter Sichel, the co-owner of Château Palmer, suggested that we decant the bottles planned for dinner five hours before serving them. It had then fully opened up showing all its softness and warmth coupled with power and strength for a long life. One of the best wines after Palmer and Château Margaux, which will be covered in the group of the premier crus, is Malescot St. Exupéry. Brane Cantenac, Giscours, Cantemerle and La Lagune are all still good but need to be drank soon.

 

Graves

La Mission Haut Brion is a fantastic wine, more powerful and concentrated than the soft and charming Haut Brion. Other very good ones include La Tour Haut Brion, Domaine de Chevalier, Haut Bailly and Pape Clément.

 

St. Estéphe

Cos d'Estournel is very good, Montrose is now shedding its tannins, whereas Calon Ségur needs drinking, having given much joy over the years.

 

St. Emilion

1961 is one vintage where I prefer Figeac to Cheval Blanc; both are very good but Figeac shows more complexity and elegance. I prefer Cheval Blanc's '64 to its '61. Ausone and Canon are both lovely elegant wines but they do not have the concentration of a top '61. Two very underrated wines are L'Arrosée and La Gaffelière – both are very impressive and still bargains if you are lucky enough to find them.

 

Pomerol

The two rarest and most expensive wines from '61 both come from Pomerol. Pétrus and Latour-á-Pomerol. Both are tremendously impressive – Latour-á-Pomerol with great sweetness, richness and concentration. Pétrus with similar richness but with even more power and structure. I have never had the pleasure of drinking these two giants next to one another but expect Pétrus to have the longer life expectancy. Vieux Château Certan is a wonderful mature wine, as is Lafleur. A wine I have also found very good over the years is Château Gazin. It did then include grapes from a parcel of the best part of Pomerol, now belonging to Château Pétrus. I don't have any tasting notes on Trotanoy or L'Evangile, but both have a great reputation.

 

St. Julien

My personal favourite here is Ducru Beaucaillou, possibly the most elegant of all wines. I have drunk it twice this year, and it was not showing any signs of ageing at all. It is closely followed by Gruaud Larose and Léoville Las Cases, both very impressive. Léoville and Langoa Barton did not have a very good period then and are, like Léoville Poyferré, disappointing for the vintage. Talbot and Branair Ducru are good but need drinking soon.

 

Pauillac

Both Pichons are good but I prefer Pichon Baron as it has more structure and concentration than the slightly overripe Pichon Lalande. Lynch Bages is still very good just like Pontet Canet. Pontet Canet was bottled by several négociants, and the one to drink is the Cruse-bottling which was the unofficial château bottling at the time.

 

The Premier Crus

The star here is Château Latour. It is the most majestic of wines and the wine that will become the new collectors’ item for millionaires as Mouton '45 and Cheval Blanc '47 start to fade away.

It has great concentration of cabernet fruit with a firm tannic structure. Truly an iron fist in a silk glove, only now opening up to reveal its true greatness. It is also the wine that was ranked in first place in “The 1,000 Finest Wines Ever Made”.

Château Margaux made its finest wine since the legendary 1900 and it is still wonderful to drink. Mouton is a luscious wine on a par with its wonderful '59.

Haut Brion is soft and lovely but not as great as its '59. Lafite shows big bottle variation as it was still bottled from cask to cask at the time and over a long period. At its best it is very fine and delicate with little power but great elegance, at its worst it is a tired wine with no body or fruit left.

Unfortunately great quality coupled with small quantity always leads to high prices, and this is particularly the case with the 1961 Bordeaux. However, all true winelovers should have at least once in their lifetime have drunk a good '61 to know what a perfect claret can taste like. 

Jan-Erik Paulson

READ ALSO NEAL MARTIN*S ARTICLE ABOUT 1961 VINTAGE

Read more
Close

Average Bottle Price

2018 2016 2015 2014 2013 2010 2005
2 890€ +21.4% 2 380€ +4.6% 2 276€ +11.4% 2 043€ +7.4% 1 902€ +0.6% 1 890€ +75.3% 1 078€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Latest Pro-tasting notes

49 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Medium, Ruby red and Dark

ending

Long, Round and Extensive

flavors

Spice, Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Licorice, Leather and Steely

nose

Intense, Round and Complex

recommend

Yes

taste

High in Acidity, High tannin, Concentrated, Well-structured, Perfectly balanced, Full-bodied, Round, Rich, Fresh, Sweet and Sweet tannins

Verdict

Sophisticated and Impressive

Written Notes

Next was another perfect condition bottle, a 1961 Chateau Haut Brion. It had toffee, caramel and peanut aromas with an egg cream kiss. It was rich and luscious on the palate with great, coffee and chocolate flavors alongside dark plum and cassis. This was a long and sexy wine; if flavors could be midnight, this wine was it. I wanted to take it back to my hotel room accordingly (98).

  • 98p
This spectacular vintage had a rough start due to a cold period at the end of May causing severe coulure. After a poor fruit set in late spring, the weather changed into very hot and dry for the summer, actually the driest on record. Very fine weather in September guaranteed ideal ripeness of grapes and extremely high concentration. The rainfall this year was almost half the average in Haut-Brion. Both of the two bottles were in good condition. Decanted for two hours. This is Haut-Brion at its best without a doubt. Very dark, garnet in colour. Gorgeously intense nose – exotic, sweet black fruits and oriental spices. Full-bodied, very well balanced with an excellent structure. This finely concentrated but generously open wine shows a lovely sweet, round and intense ending. A real joy of a wine.
  • 97p

The 1961 Haut-Brion is the third bottle of this wine that I have tasted in the last couple of weeks – no complaints there. It has a slightly more advanced bouquet with touches of game and oxtail infusing the black fruit, hints of black truffle and scorched leather. The palate is medium-bodied with a slightly gamey entry. Great length and girth here, although other bottles demonstrated more precision on the finish. On this occasion it is surpassed by the superior 1961s from Palmer and Latour, but a pristine bottle could give those a run for their money. Tasted at the 1961 dinner Chairman Miaow’s in Hong Kong.

  • 97p

A complex wine that is still majestic, powerful and long. This bottle is more intense than other bottles I have tried in the past and the youthfulness and vigor is noticeable in the vibrant character and long finish. Beautiful wine that ranks as among the finest from Haut-Brion, along with their 1982 and 1989.

  • 99p

You have a lovely perfume of licorice, cedar and sage on the nose. This is another brilliant wine, opulence and power captivate on the opening. Sweet, succulent fruit, with hints of chocolate towards and just past the mid palate. The energy and focus of this wine is untouched by time, in fact enhanced by it. Mulberries and plums emerge, silkily smooth, and it is a masterclass of vibrant harmony on the layered, prodigious finish. 97 Points+

  • 97p
Tasted in September 2006. Deep dark red. Smell of extracted coffee beans, port wine like and a bit peppery on the palate. It seemed that this bottle experienced a kind of heat shock during its storage before it's arrival at our tasting, because this vintage normally is superb for Haut Brion.
The 1961 vintage – a frost affected year with a small crop – was another brilliant wine. This was a really richly concentrated wine with deepset mushroom/choco-mint aromas and flavours, fine loose-knit bony tannins and plenty of flavour length (97/100 points). Jean Delmas spoke of this vintage as a very challenging one, its fame perhaps emphasizing that great wine can never be made by over ripe grapes.
  • 97p
Very deep and dark red color, very intense nose with aromas of spices, smoke, cedar and cassis. On palate just gorgeous, wide, big, and aromas of cherries, dark chocolate, dark berries and coffee. Almost sweet and intense finish, a wow -wine!
  • 98p
Magnum
  • 94p
Load more notes

Information

Origin

Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Extraordinary

Value For Money

Very good

Investment potential

Very Good

Fake factory

There is a possibility

Glass time

2h

Inside Information

Wine Advocate #103
Feb 1996
Robert M. Parker, Jr. 100 Drink: 1994 - 2000 $1650-$5647
The 1961 Haut-Brion was pure perfection, with gloriously intense aromas of tobacco, cedar, minerals, and sweet red and black fruits complemented by smoky wood. This has always been a prodigious effort (it was the debut vintage for Jean Delmas). 

The notes for this wine are taken from the description of Series IV - Flight D of the 1995 tasting conducted in Munich by Helga and Hardy Rodenstock. Many years after the tasting from which this note derives allegations were made concerning the authenticity of old and rare bottles of wine sold by Hardy Rodenstock to collectors around the world. The matter has been the subject of numerous articles, litigation and at least one book. Mr. Parker believes that the wines served to him at this tasting were authentic so this note and the others from that specific tasting continue to be posted on eRobertParker.com.
Read more

Highlights

Latest news

TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS MOST FAKED WINE / TOP 30 LIST
WINERY NEWS Diamond Creek Vineyards / Louis Roederer Champagne to buy Diamond Creek Vineyards Roederer is about to add another gem, Dia  more ...
TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS One of the most famous names in the global wine trade, Michael Broadbent MW, has died aged 92. / Robert Joseph remembers Michael Broadbent MW, who led an extraordinary life in wine.
TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS BWW 2020 - Best Wine Shop of the World have been selected  / Millésima from France is the Winner.
WINE NEWS: Sassicaia 2017 / Sassicaia 2017 released – “a wild, exotic beauty” By Liv-ex Sassicaia 2  more ...
WINE NEWS: Sir Winston Churchill 2009 / Pol Roger, Sir Winston Churchill 2009 released By Liv-ex This morning, Pol Roger Sir Wins  more ...
WINE NEWS: Hermitage La Chapelle 2016 / Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage Chapelle 2017 released – “a magical wine in the making&rdqu  more ...
TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS Champagne Henriot announces the appointment of its new Wine Maker, Alice Tétienne / Champagne Henriot is very pleased to welcome Alice Tétienne as its new Wine Maker, starting from April 1st, 2020.
WINERY NEWS Château Cantenac-Brown / Margaux third growth Château Cantenac Brown has been sold to Frenchman Tristan Le Lous for an   more ...
TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS PENFOLDS GRANGE VERTICAL BREAKS AUCTION RECORD / A set of Penfolds Grange, dating from 1951 to 2015, has been sold for a record AU$372,800, comfortably beating the previous auction price for a similar vertical of $349,500.
TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS BWW 2020 - Best Wine Critics of the World have been selected! / The Best Wine Critic of the World -title was awarded to Neal Martin.
TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS BWW 2020 - Voting for the Best Wine Critic of the World is over. / Wine Critics received 218,966 votes from 56 countries.
TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS DRAKE LAUNCHES 2008 VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE PRICED AT $550 A BOTTLE / Having unveiled his first Mod Sélection Champagnes at the start of the year, Canadian rapper Drake is ending the year by launching two 2008 vintage expressions priced at US$480 and $550 a bottle.
TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS LOUIS ROEDERER LAUNCHES FIRST ‘BIODYNAMIC’ CRISTAL / Louis Roederer has announced the release of the 2012 vintage of Cristal, the first to be made from 100% biodynamically farmed grapes.
WINERY NEWS Henri Boillot / VINTAGE 2017 /  I love this vintage! Winter is once again not dry and cold enough and this i  more ...
VINTAGE NEWS: 1959 / 1959 the unemployment problems eased to 5.5%. Television programmes included "Rawhide"  more ...
TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS AUSTRIAN VINTAGE 2019 / FRUIT-FORWARD & FANTASTIC!
TASTINGBOOK WINE NEWS BORDEAUX 2019 /  - SHAPING UP TO AN EXCEPTIONAL VINTAGE. AGAIN!
WINERY NEWS Château Pedesclaux / 2018, HOTTEST YEAR SINCE 1900 The year 2018 has been marked by the mildness of its temperatures a  more ...
WINERY NEWS Cullen Wines / VANYA CULLEN - 2020 Halliday Wine Companion Winemaker of the Year! It’s a great honour and   more ...

Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

95p
 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Château Haut-Brion 1961  ( Château Haut-Brion )

"Just tasted the world's oldest official vintage - 1727 - still very drinkable and elegant - have you tasted it"

8y 2m ago

95p
 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Château Haut-Brion 1961  ( Château Haut-Brion )

"Excellent event- Dom Perignon 1975 rose mg surprisingly fresh and vivid, at the end of the day, the best Haut Brion were 1989, 1961, 1945, 1982, ....36 vintages:)"

8y 4m ago

Incorrect Information
If you found some information that is wrong, let us know
Are you sure you want do delete this wine? All information will be lost.
Are you sure you want to recommend this wine?
Are you sure you want hide this written note ?
Are you sure you want show this written note ?

HOW TO USE TASTINGBOOK?

We recommend you to share few minutes for watching the following video instructions of how to use the Tastingbook. This can provide you a comprehensive understanding of all the features you can find from this unique service platform.

This video will help you get started



Taste wines with the Tastingbook


Create Your wine cellar on 'My Wines'



Explore Your tasted wines library



Administrate Your wine world in Your Profile



Type a message ...
Register to Tastingbook
Register now, it's fast, easy and totally free. No commitments, only enjoyments.
Register with Facebook   Register