Yields at Ch Haut Brion are 20% down and consequently this is one of the most concentrated wines made here for many vintages. Tannin levels are high, the fruit flavours are super-ripe making this one of the most serious wines we tasted
Even better, and clearly the best wine made in the Haut-Brion stable in 2003 (the last vintage of the great Jean-Bernard Delmas as administrator), the 2003 Haut-Brion is a blend of 58% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cabernet Franc that hit 13% natural alcohol, which seemed high at the time, but given more recent vintages is modest. Dark ruby/plum in color, with no amber or orange at the edge, the wine exhibits an abundance of roasted herbs, hot rocks, black currants, plum, and balsamic notes. Quite rich, medium to full-bodied and more complete, with sweeter tannins than La Mission Haut-Brion, this full-bodied Haut-Brion has hit full maturity, where it should stay for at least a decade. Bravo!
The blockbuster 2003 Haut-Brion (13% alcohol) possesses extremely high tannin, but that component is well-concealed by a cascade of mulberry, blackberry, cherry, and plum-like fruit. There is even a hint of figs under the blue and red fruit spectrum. While broad and ripe with a sweet, glyceral mouthfeel as well as a long, powerful, persistent finish, it retains its elegance and nobility. A wine of both power and finesse, it will benefit from 3-4 years of cellaring, and keep for 25-30. Drink: 2009-2036
There are only 10,000 cases of this 2003 (12.85% alcohol, high for this estate). A blend of 58% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Cabernet Franc, it reveals more tannin and a tougher texture than it did last year. Deep ruby/purple to the rim, with a fragrant bouquet of plums, figs, hot rocks, and tobacco smoke, this medium-bodied claret possesses outstanding concentration and purity, but some toughness to the tannin needs to be resolved. It had just been fined, so perhaps it had not yet fully recovered. It is certainly an outstanding Haut-Brion, but at this stage, I would rank it behind such prodigious classics as the 2000, 1998, 1995, 1990, and 1989. It will be slow to evolve. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025+.
Incredibly intense aromas of tobacco, chocolate, toasted oak and currants. Superripe and exotic. Full-bodied, with great depth of fruit and velvety tannins. Very long. This reminds me of the 1989. Jean-Philippe Delmas says it could be better than 2000. I certainly agree. 10,000 cases
Very deep ruby, lovely velvety depth, pure roses and 'not stones' fragrance on the nose, concentration of small red berry fruit translated into a pure vineyard expression of great elegance, suavity and length. Drink: 2012-2035.
Arguably the oldest recognised Bordeaux grand cru, Haut Brion has been owned by the American Dillon family since 1935. The Château was an early moderniser - the first estate to implement steel vats in 1961 - and over the years, their incredible investments have re-established the inherent quality of this property, enabling it to emerge as possibly the most consistent first growth since the 1980s. Second wine is Bahans Haut Brion.
Stretching from the rather unglamorous southern suburbs of Bordeaux, for 50 km along the left bank of the river Garonne, lies Graves. Named for its gravelly soil, a relic of Ice Age glaciers, this is the birthplace of claret, despatched from the Middle Ages onwards from the nearby quayside to England in vast quantities. It can feel as though Bordeaux is just about red wines, but some sensational white wines are produced in this area from a blend of sauvignon blanc, Semillon and, occasionally, muscadelle grapes, often fermented and aged in barrel. In particular, Domaine de Chevalier is renowned for its superbly complex whites, which continue to develop in bottle over decades. A premium appellation, Pessac-Leognan, was created in 1987 for the most prestigious terroirs within Graves. These are soils with exceptional drainage, made up of gravel terraces built up in layers over many millennia, and consequently thrive in mediocre vintages but are less likely to perform well in hotter years. These wines were appraised and graded in their own classification system in 1953 and updated in 1959, but, like the 1855 classification system, this should be regarded with caution and the wines must absolutely be assessed on their own current merits.