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  • Country ranking ?

    1 112
  • Producer ranking ?

    74
  • Decanting time

    2h
  • When to drink

    now to 2035
  • Food Pairing

    Grilled Porterhouse Steaks with Gorgonzola Walnut Butter

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Robert Parker's Wine Advocate / A more firmly structured Haut-Brion, built somewhat along the lines of the 1996, this dark garnet-colored wine is showing notes of licorice, underbrush, compost, truffles, dried herbs, creosote, and sweet black cherries and currants. Medium-bodied, rich, but still structured, this wine unfolds incrementally on the palate, showing superb density and a lot of complex Graves elements. It is just beginning to hit its plateau of full maturity.

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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.

 

 

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Wine Information

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.
The vineyards are on a small rise about 27 metres above sea level. It contains a very deep layer of gravel – perfect for growing wine. Just over 48 hectares are planted with 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Franc.
Haut Brion is together with Latour the Premier Cru that has been most consistent for the last 100 years, never going through a phase where their wines were not worthy of their Premier Cru status. This is not taken for granted by the present management and they are making great efforts to not only keep the quality of their wine but also always trying to improve small details. Fortunately, they are not using extraction machines or other voodoo methods of concentration, but rather seeking concentration by lowering the yield per vine. This has subtly changed the style of the wine to make it more approachable earlier but without losing the true character of Haut Brion - the connaisseurs Premier Cru.
Soil: gravel soil with a subsoil of clay and sand
Production area: 48 ha
Grape varieties: 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 42% Merlot
Average age of vines: 37 years
Harvest method: by hand with the sorting out on trailers
Winemaking: computer controlled pumping-overs and thermoregulation according to the temperatures of the must and the marc
Ageing: 18-22 months in 80% new barrels


Château Haut-Brion
Pessac, France
Tel. +33 5 56 00 29 30
Fax. +33 5 56 98 75 14
www.haut-brion.com/home/en/
info@haut-brion.com

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Vintage 1988

The first of a trio of great vintages and which was rather overshadowed by the 89s and 90s. Certainly the most "classic" of the trio, with many wines which are not overtly fruit-focused, but which have levels of extract and concentration which make them perfect candidates for prolonged storage.

The first half of the year was exceptionally cold and wet and the vintage was saved by a long, dry and hot summer. Harvest began in mid-September and some cabernets were not picked until the 3rd week of October. Most wines are now approaching their plateau of maturity, with the choice of the bunch being the Cabernet-dominated Médocs and Graves. Pauillac was particularly successful.

 

 

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

16 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Medium

ending

Medium

nose

Intense

recommend

Yes

Written Notes

Ruby. Cassis, blueberries, spices, fresh, nuanced, detailed, scented, superb nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, dark berries, anise, spices, nuanced, cassis, structured, firm, detailed, long. 95

  • 95p
Tasted in July 2014. Not quite developed yet. Lighter version of this wine with sheer elegance and finesse, very stylish and well-balanced. Tannin seems to be kept under strict control of fruit.
  • 93p
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Information

Origin

Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux

Other wines from this producer

Château Haut-Brion Blanc

La Clarté de Haut-Brion

Le Clarence de Haut-Brion

Plantiers de Haut-Brion

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