Undoubtedly one of the greatest wines of the night (it was a toss-up between Haut Brion, Margaux, and Lafite). This was utterly sensational. Intoxicating, smoky, fluent, svelte. Absolutely flawless.
Arguably the oldest recognised Bordeaux grand cru, Haut Brion has been owned by the American Dillon family since 1935. 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.Beautifully structured and the most poised of all the First Growths (Lafite being an excellent runner up), the 2005 Haut Brion is a stunning wine. Elegant, subtle and pure with outstanding persistence, concentration and finesse. Drink 2015 - 2035+.
The mineral-laced 2005 Haut Brion (56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc) is exquisite. With its elegance and finesse, it is not as powerful as La Mission, but the nobility and complexity of the aromatics, incredible fragrance (subtle smoke and blue, red, and black fruits) that persists in the glass, full-bodied mouthfeel (though very light and delicate on its feet), and incredible length characterize this great Haut-Brion. It is just starting to drink well, and should continue to do so for at least another three decades. It is a tour de force in winemaking, but only 9,000 cases were produced. Drink 2015-2045
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+
The 2005 Haut-Brion is another wine that has put on weight over the last year. While I still believe the 1989 is the great classic, it is difficult not to admire the architectural structure and seriousness of this extraordinarily elegant effort. A blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon (which came in around 14% natural alcohol), 39% Merlot (over 13% natural alcohol), and 5% Cabernet Franc, only 9,000 cases were produced in this vintage, significantly less than in other great years such as 2000 or 1998. It appears to be a big, bulked-up version of the 1996 or 1995. While almost primordial in its denseness, richness, and body, it retains its elegance and surreal nose of flowers, cherries, pain grille, crushed rocks, flowers, and ripe fruit. Powerful, dense, and in need of a decade of cellaring, this will be a 30 to 40-year Haut-Brion that should end up being a modern day version of the 1955. Although closed at present, it is enormously impressive, and is a treat to taste next to the more flamboyant La Mission Haut-Brion. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2040+.
The 2005 Haut-Brion is an extraordinarily broad, rich, full-bodied effort boasting huge aromas of scorched earth, plum sauce, sweet cherries, black currants, and a hint of toasty oak. The wine possesses huge tannins, which is somewhat deceptive given its viscosity and opulence. Despite its intensity, Haut-Brion is always a model of elegance and symmetry. The profound 2005, which will undoubtedly shut down after bottling, should be less seductive in its youth than either the 1989 or 1990, but it will be incredibly long-lived. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2040+.
56% M 39% CS, 5% CF (45% grand vin). Very very dark crimson with maroon rim. Truly great, very savoury, appetising absolutely classic, true Haut-Brion scents of minerals as a grace note on extraordinary ripeness without fatness. Bravissimo! What delicacy with power! There is masses and masses dug in underneath here - weight and tannin and dryness on the finish but it's all covered with a fine cashmere blanket. A tiny bit of heat on the end? Extraordinary fan of flavours. Great lift and precision and then length. Absolutely no sweetness - what a contrast to many of yesterday's St-Emilions! You wouldn't think they were at all in the same region. Drink 2018-40.
Superdark for Haut-Brion. The nose is mindblowing. Exotic. Like a bouquet of flowers with raspberries and currants as well as Chinese spices and fruits. Hints of new wood. Full-bodied, with ultrarefined tannins and great length--goes on and on. This is on its way to 100 points.
Deep velvety red, wild roses bouquet, taffeta smooth texture, great precision and clarity, restrained and aristocratic. Drink 2020-2040. (5 stars).
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.