The unbelievably superb 2011 Haut-Brion (a tiny production of 7,600 cases from a blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 19% Cabernet Franc) exhibits a classic nose of subtle smoldering embers, warm rocks, black currants, new saddle leather, spice box and high quality, unsmoked cigar tobacco. The color is a dense ruby/purple to the edge, and the wine cuts a serious as well as broad swath across the palate. The most amazing aspect of this terroir is that the wine, despite all its power and richness, literally dances on the palate, as if it were a 90 pound ballerina. This brilliant 2011 should evolve quickly, hitting its prime in 7-8 years, and drink beautifully for 20-25 years.
Lots of subtle redcurrant and berry character, with flowers and sweet tobacco on the nose. Full body, super-integrated tannins and a light shaved-chocolate, berry and cedar character. A decadence and beauty to this that wakes you up. Better in 2018.
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. This year 43% of the crop is in the grand vin, 46% is in Clarence Haut Brion, with 11% sold off in bulk. The percentage of Merlot is lower than normal - 34.8%, with 18.9% Cabernet Franc, and 46.3% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is plump and classy with a real sense of terroir. The classic Graves fruit is wrapped in cashmere with a lovely smooth texture. It is sophisticated, supple and smooth but the tannins kick in at the finish. Outstanding potential and a wine to rival the great 2001 that was produced here.
Jean-Philippe Delmas says his wine is a cross between 2008 and 2001, but it's surely better than that. Not everyone agrees, but to me this is the red wine of the vintage: a classic Haut-Brion with structure, restraint, savoury tannins, strawberry and plum skin fruit characters, palate-cleansing freshness and delightful harmony and balance. The shorter macerations and gentle extraction of tannins, not to mention the work in the vineyard and on the sorting table, paid off. 15+ years.
Deep velvety red, wild roses bouquet, taffeta smooth texture, great precision and clarity, restrained and aristocratic. Drink 2020-2040
Like its stablemate La Mission-Haut-Brion, Haut-Brion's 2011 production was small, only 7,600 cases, which is nearly 3,000 fewer cases than in 2009. A blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc, it is interesting to taste the 2011 Haut-Brion next to the more open-knit, seductive 2011 La Mission Haut-Brion. The former wine is more firm, backward and earthy with a more formidably structured style. Undeniably elegant, distinctive and original, it exhibits notes of mulberries, plums, blueberries and raspberries. Jean-Philippe Delmas told me that in many ways the 2011 reminds him of the 2008 from an aromatic and structural profile. There is plenty of tannin, and the 2011 has 25-30 years of aging potential. It may be more reminiscent of a vintage such as 1988, but it is better made as well as being the product of a far stricter selection process.
The Haut Brion is a blend of 34.8% Merlot, 18.9% Cabernet Franc and 46.3% Cabernet Sauvignon. The bouquet has a little more thrust than the La Mission with a little more opulence, although perhaps not the same degree of clarity and showing slightly more alcohol (but nothing to get concerned about.) It has good weight, firm rigid tannins and a weightier framework than La Mission. It is concentrated and generous with very good focus, a crescendo of flavours towards the finish and very good grip. A masterful Haut-Brion that is more voluminous than La Mission at present. Tasted April 2012.
Complex aromas of brown sugar, sweet tobacco and dark fruits. Turns to hints of prunes and cocoa. Full-bodied, with ultra fine tannins and a wonderful length. Refined and silky. Beautiful balance. Such wonderful length. Turns chewy yet very polished.