|Subregion||France > Bordeaux > Left Bank > Pessac-Léognan|
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 is one of the most consistently great wine of Bordeaux. Since 1958 it has been bottled in the unique and iconic Haut Brion bottle. Situated in the suburbs of the city of Bordeaux, the 48 hectares of red grape varieties are planted with 45% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The second wine used to be known as "Bahans Haut Brion" but is now called "Clarence Haut Brion". Under the same ownership is neighbour La Mission Haut Brion and Quintus in St Emilion. The 2018 is pretty much a classic 50:50 blend with 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11.9% Cabernet Franc. Jean-Philippe describes it as being closer to 2016 and 2010 in style than it is to 2015 and 2009. He likens it to the excellent 1998 made here, but better.
The 2018 Haut-Brion is composed of 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11.9% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet-purple in color, the wine needs a lot of swirling before it begins to release a whole complex melody of notes, one at a time to begin: tilled earth, followed by pronounced licorice, then crushed rocks, then the preserved plums. Eventually, it all comes together into a fascinating crescendo of intense crème de cassis, rose oil, wild blueberries and kirsch notes, giving way to quiet, persistent leitmotif scents of cinnamon stick, truffles and redcurrant jelly. The medium to full-bodied palate delivers all this and more, revealing tightly wound black fruit, red berry and exotic spice layers within a solid, wonderfully plush frame and seamless freshness, finishing with epic length and loads of earth and mineral sparks. This is a profound, highly intellectual, multilayered baby, which will require a good 7-8 years to begin to sing its incredible song, then should cellar a further 40 years at least. By way of reference, think 1989 with more restraint and even greater purity. 2028 - 2068
Aromas of currants, leaves, fresh mushrooms, oyster shell, tobacco, and dried flowers, following through to a full body, yet ever so refined and polished and it grows on the palate. Lovely, energetic finish. Subtle and driven at the end of the palate. Drink in 2026 and onwards.
A quintessential expression of this terroir, the 2018 Château Haut-Brion checks in as 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and the balance Cabernet Franc brought up in a mix of new and used barrels. Ripe and sexy, yet also offering subtle aromas and flavors of blackcurrants, smoked earth, tobacco leaf, truffle, lead pencil, and minerals, it takes its time opening up but reveals a full-bodied, concentrated, multi-layered style carrying gorgeous tannins, flawless balance, and just a wonderful symmetry and elegance paired with beautiful richness. This noble, gorgeous Haut-Brion will benefit from 7-8 years of bottle age and cruise for 40 years or so.
A beautiful Haut-Brion that combines generosity and elegance. It's rich, and velvety, with a vibrant ruby rim, all conveying structure and a sense of power. The flavour floods in through the mid-palate, displaying wonderfully vibrant blackberry, blueberry, slate, touches of blond tobacco, freshly cut herbs and exotic spicing. You can feel in the texture that it's a warm year, not holding back. It's powerful but elegant and unforced at the same time, with some brambled edges that give a welcome sense of acidity and a touch of bitterness.
Harvested 6 September to 2 October, yielding 44hl/ha. 3.8pH. IPT72 - the same level as 2015, but it was a little higher in 2010 and 2009.
Drinking Window 2027 - 2044
Tasted blind at Southwold 2018. Deep pruple colour, with a highly refined nose of beguiling black fruit. This shows supreme purity and is very youthful, graphite tones and light hints of spice frame the intense cassis fruit. The palate is firm in chalky tannins that are mouthcoating but ripe. Underneath, pristine blackcurrant fruit builds. This is currently subsumed by its structure, but with air and through to the finish, the drive of this fruit core pushes through. A wine with great potential that warrants patience.
Tasted blind. Paler than most of its peers. Sweet, neat start with some fresh minerality. And some pretty dry tannins on the end. 14.5%
Drink 2028 – 2048
Deepest black-cherry colour. Much more subdued on the nose than La Mission but has intense purity. Finely textured and yet dense, the freshness lifting it off the ground even with all the underlying power. Deep-rooted purity and wonderful persistence, all tied up and just with that slight rocky character that finishes dry but not drying. Impressive elegance in a powerful vintage. Firm, dry and yet so much more supple than many wines. Very slightly toasty on the finish but the oak is swallowed by the fruit.
Very deep colour, with a dark, brooding, spicy nose of black pepper, cassis, cloves and sage. The palate is dense, concentrated and tightly wound, but with air the succulent, rich black fruit comes through. This leads to a hedonistic, ripe structure that is full bodied and mouthcoating but supremely refined with a white chocolate texture that is cut through by waves of fresh acidity. The fruit builds through the mid palate in tandem with smoky tobacco and exotic juniper and clove. The finish is long, fine and poised, yet muscular and needing time to reveal its true potential.
(49.4 Merlot, 38.7 Cabernet Sauvignon, 11.9 Cabernet Franc) | 62% new oak | 14.2 – 14.4% alc | 72 IPT | Harvested between 6th September and 2nd October Like Le Clarence, Haut-Brion majors on the black fruit spectrum and it looks dark and menacing warning off all-comers. The tannins are superb here and they have none of the dryness and tart characteristics of La Mission, preferring to be super-fine and powdery. They don’t get in the way of the flow, but the fruit, while complete, is refusing to budge an inch. I can detect some serious complexity here but this is a belligerent wine and it refuses to open up in the glass. The intensity of the flavour is staggering and I venture that this will be another great Haut-Brion, but you have to be extremely patient for it to emerge from its chrysalis.
The length and texture to this wine is so very impressive. It’s not so much the sheer power that is impressive here, rather the form, tension and exquisite form that the abundant, fine-grained tannins provide. It lasts for minutes on the palate. A classic beauty in the making.
The 2018 Haut-Brion is a blend of 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11.9% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 6 to October 2. Deep purple-black in color, it is much more closed than the La Mission. It holds back for the first few minutes, reticent to reveal what slowly uncoils to give wave after wave of exotic spices—cardamom, cassis, star anise and fenugreek—over an opulent core of red roses, Black Forest cake, warm cassis and black raspberries with nuances of cigar box, crushed rocks, truffles, tilled black soil, iron ore and smoked meats. The full-bodied palate is truly profound, with restrained black fruit and spice layers slowly offering mineral sparks and savory suggestions within a rock-solid frame of firm, super fine-grained tannins and beautiful freshness, finishing with epic length and depth. This will take longer to come around than the La Mission, but it will be well worth the wait.
The grand vin 2018 Haut-Brion (49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Cabernet Franc) is as deeply colored as its stablemate but has a darker, smoky bouquet of blackcurrants, roasted herbs, tobacco, and gravelly earth. Silky, polished, and ethereally textured on the palate, with beautiful tannins as well as mid-palate density, it's one of the most regal, classic wines in the vintage.