A potential sleeping giant still in its very early days of development. This is a fuller more abundant style than the La Mission, balancing wild berry fruit flavours with a touch of mineral complexity. A very layered wine focusing on the reserved complexity that is Haut Brion’s bent. A wine with a great future ahead of it.
The 2012 Haut Brion (65% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc) is certainly one of the candidates for the wine of the vintage, with a dense purple color, classic nose of crushed rock, lead pencil shavings, black raspberry, blueberry and flowers. The wine shows subtle barbecue smoke notes in the background, but is full-bodied, stunningly concentrated and builds incrementally, yet finishes with luxurious, almost extravagant amounts of fruit and intensity. From only 46% of the production, this is an absolutely remarkable effort from the Dillon family and their winemaking team of the two Jean-Philippes. Drink it over the next 30-40 years. 98/100 2015-2055
The Grand Vin is a blend of 65.5% Merlot, 32.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc, which is one of the highest percentages of Merlot. It has a ripe, generous bouquet with hints of orange blossom and liquorice infused the red fruit profile. The Merlot clearly defined the character of the 2012. The palate is medium-bodied with a firm grip on the entry - more so than La Mission. This is deeper and more structured than the La Mission, perhaps quite masculine which is quite surprising considering the blend. It has great length. This is one of the great successes of the vintage and there is a clear gap between here and La Mission.
65.5% Merlot, 32.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc. Much less aromatic than La Mission. Dense and dark. Rich and sumptuous. Some spiciness. Very broad and rich. Very grand. And easy to see where it comes from and how it will proceed. Very pure. Much more forward than La Mission. Zesty but with grandeur and great persistence. Drink 2022-2045
Plush for the vintage, with a lovely, caressing feel and lots of steeped plum, anise and blackberry fruit. Displays a lacing of tar through the finish, revealing a graceful tug of earth. Tasted non-blind. —J.M.
This is fabulous for the vintage with a super long finish of ultra-fine tannins. Full and racy with a wonderful texture. This is the most Merlot ever in Haut-Brion. Rich too. One of the wines of the vintage. 65.5% Merlot, 32.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Cabernet Franc.
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. Situated in Pessac-Léognan in Graves, the estate is the only classified growth located outside the Médoc. Château Haut Brion has the most Merlot and the most Cabernet Franc of any of the First Growths and the 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.