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Haut Brion 2012

Subregion France > Bordeaux > Left Bank > Pessac-LĂ©ognan
Grape VarietyMerlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc

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Tasting Notes

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. Drink 2015-2055.

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (218), April 2015

The 2012 Haut-Brion is beginning to flex its muscles. The bouquet is perhaps one of the most backward of the five First Growths, the Merlot firmly in the driving seat. Blackcurrant mixes with pitted black olives and cedar, and light sous-bois scents percolate through with time. The palate is medium-bodied with lithe tannins, very good weight, plummy and lightly spiced with plenty of weight on the slightly meaty finish. This is an excellent Haut-Brion, but it needs bottle age. Tasted blind in Bordeaux.

Neal Martin, vinous.com, January 2023

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.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, April 2013

Whiff of gunsmoke reduction, opening up to show concentrated dark berry fruit with liqourice, pencil lead, campfire and black truffle. Stately and muscular, a brilliant counterpoint to the grace of La Mission Haut-Brion. Grips the palate, this is one of the highest alcohol wines in the vintage and yet it is balanced, with so much flavour and presence that just fills the palate and hangs on. I remember loving this En Primeur, and at the 10 years on mark it remains one of the wines of the vintage. 100% new oak.

Jane Anson, JaneAnson.com, March 2022

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

Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com, April 2013

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 Haut Brion has the highest percentage of Merlot in its history with 65.5% in the final blend. There is only 32.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc. Weighing in at 14.9% alcohol, this simply does not taste like a 2012 Bordeaux. Gorgeously sexy with a huge, silky, velvety, sumptuous, rounded smooth texture. Without doubt one of the most opulent and ripest wines of the week. The really generous fruit is balanced by complex, tarry, spicy notes. Plump all the way through to the long finish. Potentially as great as the 1998 or 2001 vintages produced here and certainly the First Growth of the vintage. A magnificent Haut Brion.

Farr Vintners, March 2013

This combines power and refinement, with a singed alder frame
around a dense core of red and black currant, plum and blackberry
fruit. Notes of bay, black tea and tar line the finish. Has a
lovely, fine-grained feel that lets the dark, hefty fruit drape beautifully.
The tobacco element hangs in the background. Sneakily
long. Best from 2018 through 2030.

James Molesworth, Wine Spectator Insider, January 2015

The nose has lots of brooding black fruits rich black cherry and cassis. The fruit on the palate is sweet and ripe backed by chocolate and liquorice fleshy and supple. There is structure towards the back a backbone with the richness of the fruit fleshing out the finish. 2020-35.

Derek Smedley MW, April 2013

Like La Mission across the road, Haut-Brion wasn't short of ripeness in 2012, partly because
of the high percentage of Merlot, which was the most in 20 years. It's the Merlot which gives
the wine its density and concentration here, showing flavours last seen in 2009 of plum and
black fig, but the Cabernet brings backbone, structure and, crucially, acidity. A wine that
needs time in bottle.
Drink: 2022-40

Tim Atkin MW, timatkin.com, April 2013
Read more tasting notes...

The 2012 Haut-Brion, which represents only 46% of the production, is a blend of 65% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc. One of the stars of the vintage, it is a complete, medium to full-bodied, soft, round, atypically accessible effort displaying lots of minerality along with red and black fruits, exceptional fragrance and purity, a fleshy mid-palate and a long finish. A remarkable fact in both these wines is that the alcohol levels in 2012 hit 14.8%, which nearly equals the record levels achieved in 2010 - that's astonishing! This 2012 should drink well 3-4 years after bottling, and last for 20-25 years.

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (206), April 2013

Tasted blind at the Southwold 2012 tasting, the 2012 Haut-Brion has an open and generous bouquet with blackcurrant pastille, cassis and briary aromas the exude very pure Merlot. The palate is medium-bodied with a sumptuous opening that is rare in 2012: rounded and generous, caressing in the mouth with black plum and blackcurrant towards the finish, residues of truffle and white pepper lingering on the aftertaste that turn very savory after 15 minutes—bacon fat or Italian cured meats. There is a lot to love about this Haut-Brion although in this blind showing I scored it the same as La Mission Haut-Brion. Who will stick their neck out as the two wines mature? Tasted January 2016.

Neal Martin, RobertParker.com (227), October 2016

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. Tasted April 2013.

Neal Martin, RobertParker.com, May 2013
Please note that these tasting notes/scores are not intended to be exhaustive and in some cases they may not be the most recently published figures. However, we always do our best to add latest scores and reviews when these come to our attention. We advise customers who wish to purchase wines based simply on critical reviews to carry out further research into the latest reports.