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  • Country ranking ?

    291
  • Producer ranking ?

    18
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    2020-2035
  • Food Pairing

    Beef

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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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Vintage 2020

In Bordeaux, the heat resulted in early flowering. Also, this led to an early harvest after a very hot summer. As a starting point, there is great maturity in the grapes, and one can expect a more opulent vintage than in the last few years.

The summer this year has been the warmest since 1959, yet the rain has fallen at the right times during the growing season. The harvest took place two weeks before the norm and will yield grapes with high potential alcohol and the lowest acidity since the 2003 vintage. As they say in Bordeaux: "It has been a good and extreme growing season which hopefully also produces great wines".

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

The 2020 Haut-Brion is a blend of 42.8% Merlot, 39.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17.5% Cabernet Franc, harvested from 7th to 29th September, with an estimated alcohol of 15% and a pH of 3.8. Opaque purple-black colored, it leaps from the glass with a first wave of vibrant black raspberries, ripe blackberries and mulberries scents, followed by a powerful core of warm cassis, dark chocolate and violets, before bursting into an array of crushed rocks, iron ore, tree bark and black truffles notes. The concentrated, densely packed, full-bodied palate is not in the least bit heavy, delivering a refreshing backbone of red berry and dried herbs suggestions, framed by seamless acidity and very finely grained tannins, finishing on an epically long, fragrant earth note. Simply stunning.

“First, we had to manage with the very humid spring—we had to fight against mildew,” Deputy Managing Director Jean-Philippe Delmas of Domaine Clarence Dillon informed me. “It was challenging. Regardless for whether you were using natural products or not. So, yields were already lower than in 2019. Then we had almost two months without a drop of water—mid-June to mid-August. We decided for the first time not to do the leaf thinning. It was not so much because of the heat, but it was SO dry. Not so many bunches were dropped in July. This year there was less intervention in the vineyards. When you intervene, you modify the profile of the wines. We started to harvest the whites very early. What is rare this year is that we finished the whites in August. It was a very early year for the whites. For the reds, the maceration was a bit shorter. We used more Cabernet Franc for all the grand vins. This was definitely a Cabernet Franc year! For La Mission Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion, the proportion reflects exactly the proportion we have in the fields.” 98-100

  • 100p

Full, distinctive, embossed bottle 1,305 g. Cask sample taken 12 April. 42.8% Merlot, 39.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17.5% Cabernet Franc. Estimated alcohol 15%. Picked from 7 to 29 September.
More obviously aromatic and lifted than the second wine, Le Clarence de Haut-Brion. Intensely seductive nose in fact. Very savoury, tobacco-leaf palate entry and then quite a tingle. Acidity is a feature of the finish. Very muscular indeed but clearly with more flesh and less obvious tannin than La Mission 2020. Almost juicy. Too early for much of the 'warm bricks' nose to have developed, I assume. Long and emphatic with a little more zest than Haut-Brion often has at this early stage.

  • 95p

Dark purple colour with violet hue and black core. Very elegant, powerful and expressive nose, ripe berries, juicy cherries and plums, mulberries and hints of sloe in the background. Backed by hints of graphite, elegant spiciness, vanilla and hints of oriental spices, noble toasting aroma, very complex with aromatic depth. On the palate powerful yet elegant with juicy fruit, tightly structured with ripe tannins, fine acidity, great freshness, elegant fruit, mild spices and subtle oak. A great wine with excellent depth and length. 

  • 99p
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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

Highlights

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