Chateau Haut Brion
|Listed Wines||Haut Brion
Le Clarence de Haut Brion
Bahans Haut Brion
|President||Prince Robert of Luxembourg|
|Annual Production (Grand Vin)||11,000 cases|
|Classification||Premier Cru Classe|
|Second Wine||Le Clarence de Haut Brion|
|Interesting Fact||Labels of 1850 Haut Brion show at least a portion of the production was bottled by the chateau. This could make Chateau Haut Brion the first major Bordeaux estate to bottle their own wine.|
Chateau Haut-Brion is the oldest of the First Growths and considered by many as the most unique due to the grandeur of its wine, illustrious history and unusual bottle shape. It has the smallest average annual production of the First Growths as well. Over the last 30 years, Haut-Brion has forged a reputation for being one of the most consistent Chateaux in all of Bordeaux, producing fantastic wines year on year. In 2017, Chateau Haut-Brion ranks No. 8 in the Liv-ex Power 100 (a list of the most powerful brands in the fine wine marketplace).
Both Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion are owned by the French company, Domaine Clarence Dillon SAS. They produce a total of nine wines including two of the finest Bordeaux whites (Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc and La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc) as well as recently acquired right bank estate Chateau Tertre Daugay, which was renamed Quintus. This follows recent name changes to the second wine of Haut-Brion from Bahans Haut-Brion to Le Clarence de Haut-Brion in 2007 indicating a more homogenous brand – a Clarence Dillon Brand.
The 1989 vintage of Haut-Brion (RPJ 100 points) currently trades at £22,500 per case, a 6150% increase on the release price. The legendary 1945 also with 100 points has a last sale price of £45,000 per case. Critically, Haut-Brion has gained a strong reputation throughout the centuries – from Samuel Pepys and Thomas Jefferson through to Parker, Coates and Robinson.
Haut Brion is listed as number 8 on the Liv-ex power brands in 2017.
Clarence Dillon, an American banker, bought Chateau Haut-Brion in May 1935. Dillon made his nephew Seymour Weller president of the new company ‘Societe Vinicole de la Gironde’ (later Domaine Clarence Dillon SAS). Weller held the position for five decades and retained Georges Delmas, the director of Haut-Brion since 1921. Georges Delmas retired in 1961, and was succeeded by his son Jean-Bernard Delmas.
In 1975, at the age of 83, Seymour Weller retired as President of the company. His cousin’s daughter and granddaughter of Clarence Dillon, Joan Dillon, then Princesse Charles de Luxembourg and later Duchesse de Mouchy, replaced him. Manager Jean-Bernard Delmas retired in 2003, and was succeeded by his son Jean-Philippe Delmas. Prince Robert of Luxembourg became President Directeur General of Domaine Clarence Dillon in 2008.
Chateau Haut Brion Pricing
Highest rated vintages for Chateau Haut Brion
What a blockbuster effort! Atypically powerful, one day, the 2009 Haut-Brion may be considered to be the 21st century version of the 1959. It is an extraordinarily complex, concentrated effort made from a blend of 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc with the highest alcohol ever achieved at this estate, 14.3%. Even richer than the perfect 1989, with similar technical numbers although slightly higher extract and alcohol, it offers up a sensational perfume of subtle burning embers, unsmoked cigar tobacco, charcoal, black raspberries, wet gravel, plums, figs and blueberries. There is so much going on in the aromatics that one almost hesitates to stop smelling it. However, when it hits the palate, it is hardly a letdown. This unctuously textured, full-bodied 2009 possesses low acidity along with stunning extract and remarkable clarity for a wine with a pH close to 4.0. The good news is that there are 10,500 cases of the 2009, one of the most compelling examples of Haut-Brion ever made. It requires a decade of cellaring and should last a half century or more. Readers who have loved the complexity of Haut-Brion should be prepared for a bigger, richer, more massive wine, but one that does not lose any of its prodigious aromatic attractions.
As for the 2010 Haut-Brion, it does not have the power of Latour's 2010 or the intense lead pencil shavings and chocolaty component of Lafite-Rothschild, but it is extraordinary, perfect wine. It has a slightly lower pH than the 2009 (3.7 versus the 2009's 3.8), and even higher alcohol than the 2009 (14.6%). The wine is ethereal. From its dense purple color to its incredibly subtle but striking aromatics that build incrementally, offering up a spectacular smorgasbord of aromas ranging from charcoal and camphor to black currant and blueberry liqueur and spring flowers, this wine's finesse, elegant yet noble power and authority come through in a compelling fashion. It is full-bodied, but that's only apparent in the aftertaste, as the wine seems to float across the palate with remarkable sweetness, harmony, and the integration of all its component parts – alcohol, tannin, acidity, wood, etc. This prodigious Haut-Brion is hard to compare to another vintage, at least right now, but it should have 50 to 75 years of aging potential. Anticipated maturity: 2022-2065+. Kudos to the team at Haut-Brion and to the proprietors, the Dillon family, who are now represented admirably and meticulously by Prince Robert of Luxembourg. He has made some changes, and all of them seem to have resulted in dramatic improvements to what was already an astonishing group of wines.
This continues to be one of the immortal wines and one of the greatest young Bordeaux wines of the last half-century. Consistently prodigious and almost a sure bet to top the scoring card of any blind tasting of this vintage as well as other years, the 1989 Haut-Brion is a seamless, majestic classic, and a tribute to this phenomenal terroir and its singular characteristics. The wine still has a very thick, viscous-looking ruby/purple color, a spectacular, young but awesome smorgasbord of aromas ranging from scorched earth, liquid minerals, graphite, blackberry and black currant jam to toast, licorice, and spice box. The levels of fruit, extract, and glycerin in this viscous, full-bodied, low-acid wine are awe-inspiring. The brilliant symmetry of the wine, extraordinary purity, and seamlessness are the hallmarks of a modern-day legend. It is still in its pre-adolescent stage of development, and I would not expect it to hit its full plateau of maturity for another 3-5 years, but this should be an Haut-Brion that rivals the greatest ever made at this estate. Life is too short not to drink this wine as many times as possible! A modern day clone of the 1959? Anticipated maturity: 2005-2030. Last tasted, 1/03.
Its bigger sister, the 2000 Haut-Brion (a blend of 51% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Cabernet Franc) showed incredibly at the tasting, and for me is one of the three or four most prodigious wines of the vintage. A compelling nose of roasted herbs, scorched earth, sweet blueberries, plums, black currants, and a hint of graphite is followed by a deep, layered, sumptuously textured, full-bodied Haut-Brion, but one with extraordinary complexity. This wine seems more evolved and approachable than I had expected it to be at age 10. My window of maturity seven years ago was 2012-2040, but I would change that to 2010-2050. Haut-Brion can be among the trickiest Bordeaux to taste young, often needing a full decade before the extraordinary complexity that marks this terroir begins to emerge. I was thrilled to see how well both the second wine, Bahans Haut-Brion, and Haut-Brion performed in this tasting, and both scores are slight upgrades.
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)
Another profound effort from Haut-Brion, the 2005 (a 9,000-case blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc) has bulked up to the point that it is fair to compare it to the great successes of 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 1998, and 2000. A dark ruby/purple color is followed by a nuanced, noble bouquet of blue and red fruits interwoven with wet stones, unsmoked cigar tobacco, scorched earth, and spring flowers. The wine is full-bodied, pure, and complex as well as exceptionally elegant with laser-like precision. The tannins are still serious and substantial, and in that sense, this is a completely different style of Haut-Brion than the opulent, silky-textured 1989 and 1990. As I have written before, it comes across as an improved, more concentrated and structured version of the 1995 or 1998. Patience will be required for this stunner. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2040+
It is fun to go back and forth between the 1995 and 1996, two superb vintages for Haut-Brion. The 1995 seems to have sweeter tannin and a bit more fat and seamlessness when compared to the more structured and muscular 1996. Certainly 1995 was a vintage that the brilliant administrator Jean Delmas handled flawlessly. The result is a deep ruby/purple-colored wine with a tight but promising nose of burning wood embers intermixed with vanilla, spice box, earth, mineral, sweet cherry, black currant, plum-like fruit, medium to full body, a high level of ripe but sweet tannin, and a finish that goes on for a good 40-45 seconds. This wine is just beginning to emerge from a very closed state where it was unyielding and backward. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2035. Last tasted, 11/02.
The 2006 Haut-Brion performed even better from bottle than it did from barrel. Sixty-four percent of the production went into this wine, and while it displays the vintage’s powerful tannins and structure, it possesses superb concentration, and the minerality/scorched earth notes of a great Haut-Brion. Medium to full-bodied, with perhaps not quite the fleshiness of the 2005 or 2000, it is built more along the lines of the 1998 and 1996. It is a brilliant effort displaying sensational purity, texture, and length that should be exceptionally long-lived. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2035 .
This is profound! 2008 Haut-Brion: The extraordinary 2008 Haut-Brion is a candidate for -wine of the vintage.- Composed of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc, it reveals more evolution and complexity in its large-scaled perfume. The dense purple color is followed by a sweet nose of creosote, asphalt, blueberries, black currants and jammy raspberries, sweet tannins, a savory, fleshy mouthfeel and a stunning finish. This incredibly pure, noble wine was produced from one of the estate's smallest crops (only 7,000 cases produced versus the usual 12,000 cases). It should drink well for three decades or more.
As reported over the last two years, this is a prodigious Haut-Brion. It exhibits a dense ruby/purple color in addition to a tight, but incredibly promising nose of smoke, earth, minerals, lead pencil, black currants, cherries, and spice. This full-bodied wine unfolds slowly, but convincingly on the palate, revealing a rich, multi-tiered, stunningly pure, symmetrical style with wonderful sweetness, ripe tannin, and a finish that lasts for nearly 45 seconds. It tastes like liquid nobility. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2035.