x
  • Country ranking ?

    83
  • Producer ranking ?

    8
  • Decanting time

    2h
  • When to drink

    now-2040
  • Food Pairing

    Beef Tenderloin with Shitake Mushrooms and Crisp Rosemary Potatoes

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.

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Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 98p / In terms of the brilliant complexity and nobility of the aromatics, scorched earth, black currants, plums, charcoal, cedar, and spices, the 1990 offers an aromatic explosion that is unparalleled. It is always fascinating to taste this wine next to the 1989, which is a monumental effort, but much more backward and denser, without the aromatic complexity of the 1990. The 1990 put on weight after bottling, and is currently rich, full-bodied, opulent, even flamboyant by Haut Brion’s standards. It is an incredible expression of a noble terroir in a top vintage. While it has been fully mature for a number of years, it does not reveal any bricking at the edge, and I suspect it will stay at this level for another 10-15 years ... but why wait? It is irresistible now.

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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

1990 AN EXCEPTIONAL YEAR
The wine is not as supple and velvety as the 89. Its structure is, more of a classic vintage. Comparable to the 88, showing complexity, finess and elegance which define Haut-Brion's great years.

Weather conditions
Sum of temperatures : 3438 °C
Rain : 291 mm
Days where temperature above 30 °C : 32
Harvest : from 04/09/1990 to 28/09/1990

Current vintage notes
A warm winter so an exceptionally earlym budding. The start of spring was cold but summer was exceptionally hot and dry. Littlerain in September allowed an abundant and very healthy crop.


 

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Vintage 1990

An early, even flowering, a warm but unspectacular summer and an exceptionally hot period during the end of August and the first half of September. It was this heat that made it possible for the record harvest to not only to fully ripen, but also to concentrate the fruit.  The harvest started on September 14 and was finished before heavy rains commenced on October 2. Another reason for the success of the vintage was that most châteaux had invested in their cellars and were able to work such a large and hot harvest. It was now possible to control the fermentation temperatures better than in earlier hot vintages, such as 1947. The grapes produced wines with such high natural alcohol that chaptalization became unnecessary. They showed deep colour, high and unusually soft tannin levels and a better acidity than first thought, as well as great fruit concentration. The media hype was great, particularly thanks to the advent of new wine magazines - this was the vintage that cemented Robert Parker’s reputation. The prices rose rapidly and have not looked back since. I remember all Premier Crus (including Pétrus) being offered to end consumers for around 50 euros en-primeur in 1983.

The scene when the 1990 vintage came along was quite different. There was a surplus of very good to great wine on the market – for the first time there was talk of three great vintages following one another. This lead to most châteaux lowering their prices by about 20 per cent compared to their 1989 prices, even though the quality was outstanding. There had been a steady increase in prices during the 1980s, but they were now more or less back to the opening prices of the 1982s. It was again a record harvest, but because most châteaux had by now introduced a ‘second wine’ and due to the fact they were more selective with regards to quality, there was actually less wine being bottled as ‘Grand Vin’ than in 1982.

We have been following both these vintages from a comparatively early age, as they were both precocious and easy to drink from the start. The top wines from both vintages are spectacular, but the overall quality is much higher in 1990. Here the wines were equally successful on both sides of the river, and even minor châteaux produced something special. We have always found most 1982s from the right bank to be too alcoholic and lacking in structure; indeed many are now ageing rapidly.

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Average Bottle Price

2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2005 2000
912€ +26.8% 719€ +15.6% 622€ +1.8% 611€ +1.5% 602€ +1.7% 592€ +0.9% 587€ -10.5% 656€ -6.2% 699€ +124.8% 311€ +114.5% 145€

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

23 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Full

ending

Long, Extensive and Pure

flavors

Tobacco, Mineral, Nutty, Cassis, Chocolate and Spice

nose

Refined, Closed and Youthful

recommend

Yes

taste

Average in Acidity, Warming, High tannin, Balanced, Concentrated, Multi-dimensional, Developing, Full-bodied, Rich, Focused, Vigor, Dry and Silky tannins

Verdict

Impressive and Outstanding

Written Notes

As you can see, they are all very high shoulder, which was a good sign. Then came the drama of unkorking the wines. They were all kept in a 14 degree cellar with reasonable humidity. No problem with the European wines. The Grange cork looked good for a while, but suddenly broke. However, I got the second part out in one piece. I was not so lucky with the Wendouree cork, which disintegrated, and many parts dropped into the bottle. I filtered the wine out, but small particles found their way into the glass. This proved my point again that Australia gets the raw end of the stick, or cork, in this case.


1990 was a great vintage, not just in Australia, but across Europe as well. Yet it is generally thought that 89 was a better year for Haut-Brion. However, I could not complain. The 1990 Chateau Haut-Brion showed very well. Obviously, when you drink 25 year old wines, your experiences are different from 7-10 year old wines. This wine was very elegant. Not much primary fruit to speak of, but ethereal earthy and musky flavours (95 points).

  • 95p
Deep purple red with garnet red hue. A brillant wine with opulence and elegance, balmy notes in the nose, hints of fine leather , spicy cuban tobaco, cedarwood and ripe berries. Blackcurrants and mulberries in the background. On the palate powerful with spicy notes, mature tannins, feine acidity, excellent depth and length with hints of floral flavours in the finish.
  • 98p
Ruby. Scented, red and darker berries, nuanced, floral, intense and layered, leaping out of the glass. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, fresh and fruity, lively and detailed, nuanced, elegant and long. 97
  • 97p
The 1990 vintage is beautifully poised between its primary and secondary life. It showed intense sweet mushroom/vellum and red currant aromas and flavours with a touch of cedar oak. The palate is astonishingly well balanced with plenty of sweet fruit intertwined with fine lacey tannins (100/100 points).
  • 100p
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Information

Origin

Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Outstanding

Value For Money

Good

Investment potential

Average

Fake factory

Be Cautious

Glass time

2h

Other wines from this producer

Château Haut-Brion Blanc

La Clarté de Haut-Brion

Le Clarence de Haut-Brion

Plantiers de Haut-Brion

Inside Information

Wine Advocate #183
Jun 2009
Robert M. Parker, Jr. 98 Drink: 2009 - 2024 $656-$1323
1990: In terms of the brilliant complexity and nobility of the aromatics, scorched earth, black currants, plums, charcoal, cedar, and spices, the 1990 offers an aromatic explosion that is unparalleled. It is always fascinating to taste this wine next to the 1989, which is a monumental effort, but much more backward and denser, without the aromatic complexity of the 1990. The 1990 put on weight after bottling, and is currently rich, full-bodied, opulent, even flamboyant by Haut Brion’s standards. It is an incredible expression of a noble terroir in a top vintage. While it has been fully mature for a number of years, it does not reveal any bricking at the edge, and I suspect it will stay at this level for another 10-15 years ... but why wait? It is irresistible now. Release price: ($1200.00/case)
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Highlights

Latest news

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Wine Moments

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95p
 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Château Haut-Brion 1990  ( 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:)"

9y 5m ago

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