May 30th 2017
Clarence Dillon have followed their outstanding 2015s with another superb set of wines from their two Pessac-Lognan estates, which are divided by a single road in the southern suburbs of Bordeaux city. Under the brilliant management of Jean-Philippe Delmas they have invested in both vineyard and cellar in recent years taking their wines to ever greater heights.
Tasting the new vintage at these historic estates is always a great honour. They say Haut Brion is one of the most intellectual wines you can taste; the 2016 should not disappoint. It has extraordinary layers, and understated power.
Ch Haut Brion 1er Grand Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan 2016
£2,490.00 per 6 bottles IB
56% Merlot, 37.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.5% Cabernet Franc. Beneath its youthful reticence there is no doubt a great wine here. Deep ruby in colour, this has subtle aromas of ripe black fruits, with a hint of liquorice spice. There is nuanced power in its complex palate. The tannins are tightly furled at this early stage, but their chalky, fine nature should evolve with great grace over the years. Drink 2025-2040, Goedhuis, 98-99 points
The 2016 Haut Brion is a blend of 56% Merlot, 37.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.5% Cabernet Franc that was picked between 19 September and 13 October. Jean-Philippe Delmas told me that this represents a touch more Merlot than last year’s vintage. It clearly has a more powerful and intense bouquet compared to the La Mission Haut-Brion, although maybe not the same killer level of detail and delineation. The palate is beautifully balanced with arching tannins that insistently grip the mouth. There are layers of black fruit, minerals, sea salt and a touch of crushed violets. Unlike the 2015 Haut-Brion, this is more linear, stricter and you could argue more nimble on its toes. Yet maybe it does not quite have the same depth and labyrinthine complexity that made the 2015 such an astonishing wine. Nevertheless, this 2016 is not far behind and it will be fascinating to compare in the future. Neal Martin, 97-99 points
Even deeper colour than La Mission. Broad and spicy and very rich and a compote of warm bricks. (La Mission is more muscular and obviously tannic.) Firm and not over the top. Prances. Transparent and very much Haut-Brion. Jancis Robinson MW, 19 points
The 2016 Haut-Brion is shaping up to be one of the jewels of the vintage. Towering, powerful and intense, the 2016 is marvelously complete in all of its dimensions. Gravel, bacon fat, black cherry, smoke, leather and licorice are all pushed forward. The 2016 is quite rich, but never heavy. It is especially polished, even understated Haut Brion built more on finesse than power. Antonio Galloni, 95-98 points
The splendour is evident from the off with a veritable tsunami of black fruit engulfing the palate and drenching every taste bud in stunning fruit. This is yet another epic Haut-Brion and it is so controlled and considered it is incredible. The tannins are, admittedly, huge, but they don’t back into the wine, staying discreetly on the finish. These tannins are seriously plush and exuberant and the fruit joins hands with these elements embracing their unique partnership. Their relationship with the oak is, too, incredible. Complete harmony is evident already in this wine. This is a masterful Haut-Brion and it is one of the wines of the vintage. Matthew Jukes, 19.5++ points
This is a monument for Haut-Brion and reminds me of the great 1998 but in a modern and bright style. Full-bodied, very tannic and superbly structured yet always agile and vivid. Its energy and dynamic nature grabs you by the shoulder and tells you it’s great. Staggeringly precise. It can’t get better than this, can it? James Suckling, 100 points