Château Haut Brion is one of the five First Growths of the 1855 Classification of the Medoc. The Château was established in 1533 by Jean de Pontac, who was the first to plant vineyards on this prime gravelly site, found in the Graves sub-region of Pessac Leognan. The Chateau is owned today by Prince Robert of Luxembourg, the great-grandson of Clarence Dillon.
It is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, with three hectares planted to the white varieties of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Château Haut Brion is the only property outside of the Medoc in the 1855 classification. A wine of class and breed, Château Haut Brion is typically more approachable in its youth, showing floral perfume and elegance, yet possesses the structure required for exceptional longevity.
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.
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.
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.
Deep colour. Fresh elderberry, cassis aromas, with vanilla oak notes. Richly Dense with voluminous black currant blackberry fruits with cedar oak notes and lovely chocolaty mid-palate textures. All still elemental and unevolved but in symmetry. Finishes gravelly and long. Tasted at Ch Haut Brion.