What a blockbuster effort! Atypically powerful, one day, the 2009 Haut-Brion may be considered to be the 21st century version of the 1959. It is an extraordinarily complex, concentrated effort made from a blend of 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc with the highest alcohol ever achieved at this estate, 14.3%. Even richer than the perfect 1989, with similar technical numbers although slightly higher extract and alcohol, it offers up a sensational perfume of subtle burning embers, unsmoked cigar tobacco, charcoal, black raspberries, wet gravel, plums, figs and blueberries. There is so much going on in the aromatics that one almost hesitates to stop smelling it. However, when it hits the palate, it is hardly a letdown. This unctuously textured, full-bodied 2009 possesses low acidity along with stunning extract and remarkable clarity for a wine with a pH close to 4.0. The good news is that there are 10,500 cases of the 2009, one of the most compelling examples of Haut-Brion ever made. It requires a decade of cellaring and should last a half century or more. Readers who have loved the complexity of Haut-Brion should be prepared for a bigger, richer, more massive wine, but one that does not lose any of its prodigious aromatic attractions.
The 2009 Haut-Brion has a less precocious but more detailed bouquet, more nuanced perhaps with warm slates baking in the summer sun, tilled loam and cedar infusing the black fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, perfect acidity, layers of mineral-rich black fruit. This seems to have gained more complexity in recent years and is beginning to flirt with perfection. It’s not there yet, but it is moving in that direction. 2023 - 2065
A rich, smoky and powerful wine with an immediately hedonsitic nose of kirsch, cassis and bonfire. The palate follows in the same vein, with deep and powerful fruit, a glossy texture and notes of barbecue, liquorice and incense. This is a full bodied and quite heady wine, bold and intense with a real signature of the vintage. It can be drunk now, with the tannins melting into the wine and great, layered complexity from all the exotic spice and toast. Long, rich and oily on the finish.
Aromas of forest floor, currants and blueberries, with hints of fresh tobacco and sliced mushrooms. Turns to orange peel and blueberries. Full-bodied, with incredible structure. This is so powerful in tannins, yet so polished. This is the most structured Haut-Brion that I have ever tasted. This has 15% Cabernet Franc, which is more than normal and perhaps giving the wine a little more tannic structure. A monumental Haut-Brion made to age for centuries. I have never tasted a young Haut-Brion, with such spellbinding power and depth. A modern 1945 or 1961 HB? Better than the legendary 1989? Try in 2021
The 2009 Haut-Brion is deep garnet colored and slightly closed and shy to begin, slowly unfurling to reveal sensuous notions of warm blackberries, plum preserves, mulberries and blackcurrant cordial with touches of star anise, mocha and damp soil. Full-bodied, taut and tightly wound in the mouth, the palate delivers mouth-coating black fruit and mineral layers with a very firm frame of ripe, grainy tannins, finishing long and earthy. This needs time! Drink 2020-2054.
Tasted blind. Deep crimson with some green leafiness. Much fresher than most 2009 first growths. Thick and with masses of ripe fruit but a mass of tannin too. Great undertow of exciting activity as though the compounds in here were in a ferment of activity. Really thrilling. Though a little bit dusty going back to it. 14.5%
Without doubt one of the world's greatest and most individual wine estates. The family traditions continue here with Jean-Philippe Delmas running the wine-making as his father and grandfather did before him and Clarence Dillon's great-grandson Robert de Luxembourg in overall charge of this wonderful property. Haut Brion - unlike the other First Growths - has never had a bad period and, for our money, is the most consistent great wine of Bordeaux. A recent 20 vintage tasting in Belgium that we attended was one of the best First Growth tastings ever. In 2009 the blend is 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc. A serious, brooding tarry nose with cassis fruit. On the palate, there is great density, it is strong and powerful, with tannins to match. Some black pepper and roasted meat. This seems like a classic, long-term wine and certainly a serious rival to the 2005, but with more Cabernet in the blend. Great concentration. When we grilled Jean-Philippe in the car park after the tasting, he told us that it was "definitely" even better than the 2005.
Although the nose has a mass on concentrated fruit there is a smoky charm. Rich blackcurrant and black cherry are backed by some fresher bilberry, all very black fruited. Layers of flavour ensure complexity with bilberry acidity refreshing whilst sloe richness gives depth of flavour. The finish is lovely and long flavours that linger. Drink 2025-2050.
To me, this was the hardest of the first growths to judge en primeur. It's a big wine (though not as alcoholic as La Mission), but seemed closed in early April. Plenty of brambly, mulberry fruit but the acidity is a little edgy and the tannins need time to soften in bottle. Definitely a very impressive wine, but one that will need a decade or more to come around. 20+ years
Black red, satiny smooth expression of pure fruit, rich and velvety texture with firm tannins that show up after the concentrated fragrance of pure vineyard fruit, beautiful structure and almost massive for Haut-Brion, but this robustness will assure a great and fascinating future. Drink 2016-45.
Extravagant and exotic, but still lively, this is a super-concentrated and elegant wine that's already breathtaking, yet has enormous aging potential. Plenty of wet earth and mushroom character alongside the cassis and blackberry aromas. Super-long, perfectly balanced finish. Drink or hold. (Horizontal Tasting, London, 2019)
There are 10,500 cases of the 2009 Haut-Brion, from a blend of 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 14% Cabernet Franc. For technicians, the highest ever natural alcohol, 14.3%, was achieved, with a pH of 3.9, which is about the same as the 1989 and 1990, as well as 1959. This is the kind of wine to send chills even up my spine, and I have been tasting here for nearly 30 years. An extraordinary nose of plum, blueberry, raspberry, crushed rock, and that intriguing floral as well as unsmoked cigar tobacco note (a classic sign of this terroir) is followed by a wine of creamy unctuosity reminiscent of 1989, but there is a freshness, vibrancy and precision that is historic and possibly unprecedented. Some graphite emerges as the wine sits in the glass, but the wine is very thick while at the same time precise and elegant. This is the quintessential expression of one of the greatest wine terroirs of the world. To reiterate, the good news is that there are going to be 10,500 cases of Haut-Brion in 2009, which is about 1,500 more cases than the 9,000 produced in 2005. This wine will probably need 7-8 years of cellaring when released and evolve as well as the 1959 has (which is still a perfect wine today), so we're realistically talking 50-75 years when stored in a cool cellar. (Tasted once.)
Tasted at the chateau. The Haut-Brion '09 is a blend of 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc, 14.3% alcohol, pH 3.84. The bouquet is markedly different from La Mission: far more rounded and opulent, much more sweet, ripe fruit with blackberry, red cherry, cassis and a touch of crème de menthe. This is one of the most decedent Haut-Brion's that I have tasted at this stage. The palate is full-bodied, layers of tannic black fruits, huge structure, dense and demonstrative. Blackberry, a touch of tar and graphite, some black olive towards the finish, almost a tidal wave of flavours. Huge grip on the dry finish, but incredible persistency in the mouth. Tasted April 2010.
A dark and brooding wine, delivering blackberry, black licorice, mahogany, subtle grilled meat and raspberry jam. Full-bodied, with layers of ripe and chewy tannins. Loads of fruit yet subtle and reserved, and a long, long finish. Super fruit, yet held back. A 2005 in the remaking, but perhaps slightly supercharged.
57% of the crop went into this. The alcohol level was 14% in 2005 when there was lots of Merlot, but in 2009 when the assemblage was 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, it reached 14.3%, the highest ever. What problems did this cause? Jean-Philippe Delmas was asked. 'To find the right yeast.' He smiled, adding, 'and the fermentation was very long: three weeks with a very long malolactive fermentation. This was the first time they had such high alcohols with Cabernet. Dark crimson with a little more blue than La Mission. LOVELY supple exciting nervy nose with a great deal of integrity and complexity already. Reminds me a little of Ch Margaux in its immediate appeal and class, even if the actual aromas are different (though equally terroir-driven). Real knockout stuff with lovely suppleness on the palate and real grace. Not a blockbuster, amazingly; it seems beautifully balanced. It has the same dense tannic charge but with a bit more fruit and less austerity than La Mission. Very long. So it's definitely Haut-Brion, just more concentrated than usual! Lots of pleasure and luxury. Date tasted 2nd April 2010. Drink 2018-2040.