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2020 Château Haut-Brion En Primeur

2020 Château Haut-Brion is released this morning with not one, but three potential 100 point scores, from Lisa Perotti-Brown MWJeb Dunnuck and James Suckling.  In fact, Suckling dispenses with any uncertainty and does not give a range, just a straight-out perfect score, suggesting this may well be "the wine of the vintage". 

In other offers we have referred to the leading-edge technology which the Grands Crus Classés employ, rather like Formula 1 teams, to stay at the pinnacle of winemaking.  All of this applies to Haut-Brion, but if you have a few moments, do remind yourself of the story of this great wine (below).  Forgive the cliché, but owning a case of wine like this really is to own a piece of history.

 

Bordeaux En Primeur, landing in spring 2023

To order, e-mail us at sales@richardkihl.ltd.uk

See Jean-Philippe Delmas and his team describe the 2020 vintage at Haut-Brion:

 

 

Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Producer Profile

https://www.haut-brion.com/

Château Haut-Brion is a Premier Grand Cru Classé de Graves estate in the communes of Pessac-Léognan.   The name derives from the Celtic word 'Briga', or mound (hence 'high' or 'raised mound').   There is evidence of a vineyard here since the 1st century AD, but records from 1521 onwards show the winery producing a vintage each year, making this the oldest continuously working winery in Bordeaux.  In 1525 Jean de Pontac became the owner of the estate in 1549 he began construction of the château which still stands today.  The terms 'cru' and 'Aubrion' began to appear regularly in records at this time. 

On April 10th 1663, Pepys wrote his famous 'review' of the wine in his diary, having tasted it at The Royal Oak Tavern, in Lombard Street in the City of London: “There I drank a sort of French wine called Ho-Bryan that hath a good and most particular taste I never met with.”  A few years later and just after the Great Fire of London in 1666, Arnaud de Pontac sent a retainer to London to open The Pontac's Head, also in Lombard Street, selling mosty Haut-Brion wines but also other clarets from the Pontac family.  For some years 'Haut-Brion' and 'Pontack' became interchangeable names.  Pontack's itself continued into the 1780s.

Haut-Brion introduced two innovations that influenced winemaking across Bordeaux; ageing in barrel and topping up of wines in barrel.  The first process adds wood tannins and allows for carefully controlled oxidative ageing, which gives long ageing potential.  The latter is essential to preserve the wines in the barrel whilst this occurs.   

Haut-Brion had various owners in the nineteenth century including the famous foreign minister Talleyrand.  In 1935 it was purchased by the American financier, Clarence Dillon.  His daughter Joan Dillon married Prince Charles of Luxembourg.  After Charles died in 1978, Princess Joan married a French aristocrat, the Duke de Mouchy.  Princess Joan and the Duke de Mouchy ran the estate until 2008, when Joan's son Prince Robert of Luxembourg took over.

Haut-Brion is very close to the city of Bordeaux.  The 50 ha of vineyards are planted on deep gravel soils with deposits of clay, to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.  The second wine was previously named Bahans de Haut-Brion and was a non-vintage wine, blending the product of more than one vintage as required.  In 2007 it was renamed Le Clarence de Haut-Brion, on the 75th anniversary of the purchase by the Dillon family.  Haut-Brion and neighbouring La Mission Haut-Brion (also owned by the family) are managed by Jean-Philippe Delmas, the second generation in his family in this role.

RED 2020 Château Haut Brion 75cl £2,598 per case of 6 Château Haut Brion
2020 / / 75cl
£2,598 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes“Cask sample taken 12 April. 42.8% Merlot, 39.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17.5% Cabernet Franc. Estimated alcohol 15%. Picked from 7 to 29 September. More obviously aromatic and lifted than the second wine, Le Clarence de Haut-Brion. Intensely seductive nose in fact. Very savoury, tobacco-leaf palate entry and then quite a tingle. Acidity is a feature of the finish. Very muscular indeed but clearly with more flesh and less obvious tannin than La Mission 2020. Almost juicy. Too early for much of the 'warm bricks' nose to have developed, I assume. Long and emphatic with a little more zest than Haut-Brion often has at this early stage. Drink 2028 – 2052. 18.5 points.” Jancisrobinson.com, Apr 21------"Concentrated, powerful and precise; this takes a grip and holds on, layers of liquorice, grilled coffee bean, chocolate, blackcurrant pastille, cassis bud and a more steely wet stone edge that gives a much needed balance to the richness of the overall feel of this wine. Gunsmoke curls out of the glass after half an hour - this is going to need serious ageing, impressive and powerful stuff. Harvest from 7th to 29th September. Drinking Window 2030 - 2050. 96 points" Jane Anson, Decanter Magazine------"The 2020 Haut-Brion was picked September 7–29. It has a more opulent, more precocious bouquet compared directly with its neighbor across the road, resplendent with layers of black cherry, wild strawberry, black olives and a touch of inkwell. Perhaps it displays slightly less mineralité compared to La Mission Haut-Brion? The palate is medium-bodied with pliant tannins and a disarming satiny texture matched by a perfect line of acidity. It builds beautifully in the glass, and yet as I constantly return to the La Mission, it does not possess quite the same thrilling tension and pixelation. This is still a magnificent, bold and almost audacious Haut-Brion and I am intrigued to see how it develops in barrel. 96-98 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com------"The 2020 Haut-Brion is shaping up to be one of the wines of the year. Substance, depth and textural intensity elevate Haut-Brion into the realm of the sublime in 2020. All the elements are so wonderfully balanced. Inky dark fruit, gravel, lavender, violet and dark spice build as the 2020 gradually opens with some aeration. Wow. 97-99 points" Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com------"Unquestionably one of the top wines in this impressive vintage, the 2020 Château Haut-Brion checks in as 42.8% Merlot, 39.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the balance Cabernet Franc, all of which will spend 15-18 months in 77% new French oak. Its deep purple color is followed by a thrilling nose of mineral-laced blackcurrants, black raspberries, toast, spice, scorched earth, and graphite. Possessing an almost Lafite-like elegance on the palate, it nevertheless has huge dry extract, full-bodied richness, flawless balance, and beautiful tannins. Per the spec sheet, the alcohol is an estimated 15% with a pH of 3.78, so it’s no shrinking violet, yet it never shows a hint of headiness or being over the top. I finished my note with “Where can I buy some?” I suspect this wine will require a solid decade to hit the early stages of maturity and will be a 30-, 40-, or possibly a 50-year wine. 98-100 points" Jebdunnuck.com------"The 2020 Haut-Brion is a blend of 42.8% Merlot, 39.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17.5% Cabernet Franc, harvested from 7th to 29th September, with an estimated alcohol of 15% and a pH of 3.8. Opaque purple-black colored, it leaps from the glass with a first wave of vibrant black raspberries, ripe blackberries and mulberries scents, followed by a powerful core of warm cassis, dark chocolate and violets, before bursting into an array of crushed rocks, iron ore, tree bark and black truffles notes. The concentrated, densely packed, full-bodied palate is not in the least bit heavy, delivering a refreshing backbone of red berry and dried herbs suggestions, framed by seamless acidity and very finely grained tannins, finishing on an epically long, fragrant earth note. Simply stunning. Drink 2029-2064. 98-100 points" Lisa Perotti-Brown, RobertParker.com------"This is a superb Haut-Brion with incredible tannins that are wonderfully fine-grained. It’s really powerful. This is very primary with so much grape-generated tannin structure. Very, very long, going on for minutes. Seductive and friendly at the start and then takes you on at the finish with so much structure. Wine of the vintage? 100 points" jamessuckling.com

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