A desert island wine. This is my wine of the vintage, I just love it and can find no fault. Deep opaque colour, initially it is all about being reserved, subtle and refined, but then it just opens out and evolves into one of the most complex wines made in recent vintages. Dense black dark fruits, with hints of liquorice and spice, it has a direct intensity in total balance with its silky volume. The layers of flavours just keep evolving; there are so many sensations within this palate. A totally complete wine, heading towards perfection.
The 2015 Haut Brion, a blend of 50% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, was picked between 8 September and 5 October, and is matured in the same level of new oak (78%) and IPT (75) as the La Mission. It has a heavenly bouquet that like the La Mission bestows instant gratification - a veritable kaleidoscope of aromas so crystalline that you can pick them out one by one: dark plum, blackcurrant, Kalamata olive and graphite. It is tempting to just nose this all day. The palate has an indescribably stunning balance and like the La Mission, there is a paradoxical sense of intensity married to weightlessness. Everything here is so precise, so pure and yet as it crescendos towards the finish, it offers a profundity that is unmatched across Bordeaux in this vintage. Having had the pleasure of many great wines from this estate in the past - 1945, 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1989 - the 2015 belongs among that pantheon.
50% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon. Picked 8 September to 5 October. Much more aromatic than La Mission. Lovely silky tannins but masses of them. Very strict and savoury. Really dense but manages to be expressive and convincing. A megalith. 14.9% Drink 2030-2055
A structured and powerful Haut-Brion with so much finesse and beauty. Complex and long. It’s full and ultra-refined. Super length and polish. A formed and sexy Haut Brion.
The 2015 Haut-Brion is shaping up to be one of the wines of the vintage. Thrust, power and pure intensity come through loud and clear in the crème de cassis, blackberry jam, smoke, licorice and graphite flavors. Soaring aromatics and layers of intense fruit, all supported by a beam of firm tannin make the 2015 a wonderfully complete wine that will drink well for many, many decades. The unctuous fruit and baby fat will need time to melt away, but there is little doubt this a magical wine with huge potential for the future. The purity of flavors and textures will take your breath away.
(50 Merlot, 42 Cabernet Sauvignon, 8 Cabernet Franc) | 78% new oak. | 14.9% alc. | 75 IPT. Haut-Brion takes on the role of a fruit-driven (if one can call it that) temptress by comparison to the brutally tannic La Mission. Of course there is more power here and this is just an illusion, but this wine has so much allure and refinement of red fruit draped over a monumental core it is heart-stopping. The wines from Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion in 2015 are so different from the norm it is incredible. The quality of the tannins is mystifying. This is thrilling wine which is so intense and yet so splendid and powerful it takes my knowledge of this estate to another level by giving us a shape, size, aroma and flavour which is found nowhere else on earth.
This is an Haut-Brion to stick away in the cellar and forget about for a decade or more. Thick, compact and very concentrated, it doesn’t win many points for elegance and finesse, but will soften and flesh out with age. The flavours - plum, damson and blackberry - are just a little jammy, yet the acidity freshens the finish. Drink: 2028-40
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.