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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.
1978 A GOOD YEAR
Very rich, dense and harmonious wine. Remarkable balance. A wine full of charm, whose impression of ripe fruit dominates the taste.
Sum of temperatures : 3029 °C
Rain : 327 mm
Days where temperature above 30 °C : 12
Harvest : from 05/10/1978 to 14/10/1978
Current vintage notes
After a very rainy winter and a wet and cool spring, summer was fine, close enough to normal except for 12 very hot days.
A late-starting year saved by the
fair, dry weather of autumn. Very sound grapes which were able to wait for full
maturity in October.
In general, very successful wines.
Bordeaux Vintage Report / 1978 turned out to be a very good vintage particularly in Pauillac and St Julien.
“The miracle vintage”. Just about everything that could go wrong went wrong until mid-August. But thanks to the beautiful sun and the heat from that moment on, the vintage was saved. The best wines come from Médoc and Graves. Château La Mission Haut Brion produces the wine of the vintage. I had very good bottles of Châteaux Margaux, Léoville Las Cases, Latour, Haut Brion, Cheval Blanc, Pichon Lalande and Palmer. Most wines should be drunk soon.
It would be wise to choose the best chateaux of this vintage just because some of the lesser estates are on the hill. The best will continue to drink until 2010-2012. Lafite Rothschild is the wine of the vintage.