Its amazing to visit this vineyard located as it is in a surprisingly urban location inside the south west city perimeter. The oldest of the first growths, the vineyard is made up of roughly equal percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with about ten percent Cabernet Franc, oh and one percent Petit Verdot. The wines are often restrained and aristocratic in their youth opening up to reveal incredible complexity with beautifully spicy tabacco and cedar aromas. Truly outstanding.
Haut Brion is the only first growth Bordeaux estate in the Graves region, it is also the oldest of these first growths. Wines from this estate have been famously enjoyed by King Charles II of England, and the diarist Samuel Pepys who wrote "Drank a sort of French wine called Ho Bryen that hath a good and most particular taste I never met with". Thomas Jefferson, whom would later become President of the United States of America, also listed Haut Brion as among the four finest estates in Bordeaux.
Chateau Haut Brion carries 48.35 hectares of vineyards planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
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.
The colour here is more intense purple, on the nose again quite restricted, tarry notes a touch of black cherries, the palate this is very impressive, very big and dense, certainly rioe and textured with almost impentatrable, but volumous, coated with gentle prickly tannins, wholesome and satifying finish.
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.)
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.
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