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Haut-Brion

Château Haut-Brion is a French wine, rated a Premier Cru Classé (First Growth), produced in Pessac just outside the city of Bordeaux. It differs from the other wines on the list in its geographic location in the north of the wine-growing region of Graves. Of the five first growths, it is the only wine with the Pessac-Léognan appellation and is in some sense the ancestor of a classification that remains the benchmark to this day.

In addition to the grand vin, Haut-Brion produces a red second wine. Formerly named Château Bahans Haut-Brion, beginning with the 2007 vintage, it was renamed Le Clarence de Haut Brion. The vineyard also produces a dry white wine named Château Haut-Brion Blanc, with a limited release of the second dry white wine, Les Plantiers du Haut-Brion, renamed La Clarté de Haut-Brion for the 2008 vintage. Since 2003, Domaine Clarence Dillon's daughter company, Clarence Dillon Wines, has also released the Bordeaux brand wine named Clarendelle.

Château Haut-Brion devotes 48.35 hectares (119.5 acres) to red grape varieties, with a distribution of 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1%Petit Verdot, and 2.87 ha (7.1 acres) to white grape varieties, distributed with 52.6%Sémillon and 47.4% Sauvignon blanc.

The vineyards are elevated, up to 27 meters, somewhat above the Bordeaux norm. The soil consists of Günzian gravel and some parcels have high contents of clay. All the vineyards are located in a cluster near the château itself and on the other side of the main road.

The selection of optimum rootstocks and clones has been a large task at Château Haut-Brion, pioneered by Jean-Bernard Delmas, which has greatly contributed to the quality of the plant material in the vineyard. The long-term aim has been to lower yields, not by green-harvesting but by ensuring healthy and balanced vines. The average age of the vines is approximately 35 years with the oldest parcels dating back to the 1930s, planted with an average vine density of 8000 vines/ha.

Harvesting takes place by hand and each parcel is worked by the same team of workers to increase the teams' familiarity with the individual vines. The harvest of the white grapes takes place very early due to the proximity to the city of Bordeaux which results in a warmer microclimate and thus earlier ripening. The white grapes are picked as late as possible, sorted and then pneumatically pressed in whole bunches. There is no skin contact and fermentation takes place in oak barrels with indigenous yeast. After sorting in the field, the red grapes are destemmed, crushed and moved to a special double-tank with fermentation taking place in the top and malolactic fermentation in the bottom, using gravity to move the wine. Previously ageing took place in 100% new oak casks lasting 18 months. This has been reduced to 35% new casks and wine destined for the second wine Le Clarence is aged in 25% new oak. The white wine is aged in 40-45% new oak for 10–12 months. Château Haut-Brion has its own cooperage.

The annual production ranges from 10,000 to 12,000 cases (900 to 1,080 hL) of the red grand vin Château Haut-Brion, and from 650 to 850 cases (59 to 76 hL) of Château Haut-Brion Blanc. Of the second wines, the red Le Clarence de Haut-Brion previously named Château Bahans Haut-Brion, has a production of 5,000 to 7,000 cases (450 to 630 hL), and the white La Clarté de Haut-Brion, previously named Les Plantiers du Haut-Brion, has a production of 1,000 to 1,200 cases (90 to 108 hL).

Red

1995

Haut-Brion

Bordeaux

96 RP

Mint 

12x75cl

1

IB

Still Wine

96 Robert Parker

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.

 

95 Neal Martin

Tasted at Christies' Boardroom dinner from an ex-chateau bottle. The 1995 Haut Brion has a gorgeous bouquet: less opulent than the bottle encountered in March 2011, here offering a more sedate, but somehow "languid" bouquet of tertiary black fruit, cigar box and autumn leaves that are all beautifully defined. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, open for business with fine tension shimmering throughout. It does not quite possess the breeding or clinical focus of the 1996, but it is a generous Haut-Brion, rounded in texture with Morels and tobacco lining the finish. I would broach bottles of the 1995 before reaching for the 1996. Drink now-2025. Tasted November 2013.


Price: £4,304.00

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