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“The Château Haut-Brion 2014 is a blend of 50% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 39% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 11 September and 10 October cropped at 42.9 hectoliters per hectare raised in 70% new oak (Jean-Philippe Delmas has been lowering the new oak in recent vintages.) The fruit seems a little “redder” than La Mission at this stage with vibrant wild strawberry, blackcurrant and a pinch of dry tobacco, a hint of menthol developing with time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, that tobacco element becoming a little stronger in the mouth, a little foursquare but like La Mission Haut-Brion, focusing upon precision rather than power. Of course, a superb contribution to the vintage….” -Wine Advocate (93-95 Points)
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.
2014 was marked by an extraordinary Indian summer that saved the vintage. Fine spring weather was conducive to a good start to the growing season. However, challenging summer conditions seriously slowed down ripening. Fortunately, the month of September was absolutely beautiful, with dry, extremely sunny weather accompanied by highs of close to 30°C. This superb weather, with cool night-time temperatures, enabled the grapes to ripen beautifully, and they were able to be brought into the vat house having reached a perfect level of ripeness.
2014 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion
The bouquet features subtle floral and fruity hints with overtones of forest undergrowth. The wine starts out very silky, going on to show considerable roundness on the middle palate. The rich, dense tannin beautifully complements the wine's body and intense fruitiness.
80% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon
2014 red Château Haut-Brion
The truly beautiful bouquet has notes of black fruit such as blackberry and blackcurrant along with empyreumatic overtones. The wine shows smooth, well-structured tannin on the palate, combining power and elegance from the beginning to the end.
50% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon.
2014 La Clarté de Haut-Brion
The nose has appealing nuances of citrus, white fruit, and a discreet touch of oak. The wine starts out quite rich, going on to show freshness and crunchy fruit on the middle palate. The aftertaste confirms its exuberant fruitiness.
66% Sauvignon, 34% Sémillon.
2014 white Château Haut-Brion
The bouquet shows considerable finesse and elegance. The wine is very round on the palate, with impressive depth. The volume and concentration are beautifully complemented by fine acidity, and the aftertaste is fresh and hugely complex.
32% Sauvignon, 68% Sémillon.
Bordeaux Vintage 2014 - is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
Timed usually ath the end of March and beginning of April the Primeur Week in Bordeaux is always an exciting moment as it allows a first view on the latest vintage. The huge number of wines available for tasting is impressing and one week seems almost to short. Therefore the Union de Grand Crus offers a well organised blind tasting for the press on every morning during the week. On the precendt weekend the Grand Cercle des vins de Bordeaux holds blind tastings of over 200 samples. These impressions are complemented by tastings at various Châteaux and tastings organized by the Bordeaux trade. Therefore some oft he wines can be tasted twice or even more often during this week to doublecheck on quality and style.
An interesting fact is the weather situation. Meterologic low pressure means that wines may close down, meanwhile meterologic high pressure presents the wines in a more open and flavourful style. This year the wheather was quite bad during the first days of the tasting week but ameliorated a lot in the second half of the week. This had an influence on the tasting notes in general which has to be considered. Another effect has been the late harvest in 2014, which shortened the time period between harvest and Primeur tastings for up to a month. A month less time for maturation has effects on the tasting results which is another aspect to consider, always keeping in mind that each tasting result remains a snap-shot and is not an absolute and final judgement.
2014 had an early start with budbreak around 10 days ahead of the 10 years average. End of May flowering started on the early terroirs in heterogeneous conditions, whereas the later varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon and Franc as well as later terroirs took advantage of a warm and sunny period beginning of June. July and August where quite cool and humid and in the second half of August the vintners prepared themselves for a vintage even worse than 2013 but at the end of August everything changed. A spledid indian summer througout September and October saved the quality. Harvest started for the white grapes started three days later than in 2012 but two weeks later than 2011. For the red grapes the harvest startet with Merlot at the end of September and ended with the Cabernets in the second half of October. The cool climate during summer provides a higher acidity, the indian summer is responsible for the right ripening.
The dry white wines are on a very good quality level showing crisp acidity and ripe flavours. The noble sweet white wines also take advantage of the higher acidity balancing the opulent sweetness. Therefore this vintage seems more on the elegant side. The presentation of red wines depends very much on the grape varietes and terroirs. Overall the red wines are on a higher quality level than the three previous vintages. Saint-Emilion is excellent on the plateau calcaire and shows in general very good wines.
In Pomerol the centre of the plateau was in advantage over the surrounding areas. Fronsac was a very positive surprise for 2014. In the Médoc the southern part proved to be more heterogenous than the northern part, where especially Saint-Estèphe was homogenous and excellent. South of Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan presented a very homogenous picture of a very good quality level with outstanding wines from Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.
One last observation: This vintage digests oak in a great way. The oak is even not obvious in wines with a 100% new oak barrels for maturation. Now there are roughtly twelve month to follow for the maturation of the 2014s untill the bottling in 2016. A lot can happen in this period. Let us see how the wines will present themselves after bottling, it will be a very interesting tasting again. 2014 is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
by Markus del Monego MW