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2021 Château Haut-Brion En Primeur

2021 Châteaux Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion and their St-Emilion sibling Château Quintus are all released for sale en primeur this morning and offered on allocation. 

These were some of the first wines we tasted on our visit in April, at our usual appointment at La Mission at 8am on a Monday morning, when the senses are at their sharpest.  In other vintages, tasting taut, unyielding First Growths at this hour can be pretty challenging, but the 2021s were a joy.  The complex aromatic character of Haut-Brion and La Mission was immediately apparent, as well as the change to a more classical style.  Jane Anson sums this up far more articulately than we could have at this time in the morning (!), saying of Haut-Brion:

"Unquestionably a different architecture...than over the past few years, and there is a sculpted feel to the cassis and bilberry fruits, still with concentration and weight through the palate, expertly constructed. Feels like a window to the past, and is delicious."

Also writing on Haut-Brion, William Kelley uses uncannily similar language, worth quoting, as it shows what a consistent impression this wine made:

"Combining the classical proportions of the vintages of two decades ago with the viticultural and winemaking of today, it's a timeless classic in the making (96-98 points)"

 

Bordeaux En Primeur, landing in spring 2024.

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 2021 Château Haut Brion 75cl £2,550 per case of 6 Château Haut Brion
2021 / / 75cl
£2,550 per case of 6
IB
Tasting Notes"50.3% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11.7% Cabernet Franc. 48 hl/ha. Cask sample. Bright crimson-purple. Fragrant berry-fruit notes as the wine opens. Smooth and refined on attack, the mid palate full and generous swathing powerful but integrated tannins. Impressive length and drive. Quite a powerhouse for such a complicated year. Huge potential. 13.8%. Drink 2032 – 2055. 18 points" jancisrobinson.com (JL)------"A classical balance, reflecting a vintage that is fairly strict in its aromatic expression, exceptionally successful on this spot. Soft cassis bud, rose petal and rose stem, subdued power that gently builds over the palate. Unquestionably a different architecture to Haut-Brion than over the past few years, and there is a sculpted feel to the cassis and bilberry fruits, still with concentration and weight through the palate, expertly constructed. Feels like a window to the past, and is delicious. Harvest September 13 to October 8, with no Petit Verdot used this year. 73% new oak. 95 points" janeanson.com------"The 2021 Haut-Brion has a more extravagant, charming bouquet compared directly with the La Mission at the moment, offering copious blackberry, black truffle, undergrowth and menthol scents. The palate is very well balanced, harmonious and poised, with fine-grained tannins and an almost pixelated finish. This Haut-Brion seems to have reveled in the cooler growing season, and at 13.8% alcohol, there is almost a degree less than recent vintages. Jean-Philippe Delmas has fashioned a contender for wine of the vintage. 95-97 points" Neal Martin, Vinous.com------"As with the Clarence, the 2021 Château Haut-Brion is a darker, richer, more powerful wine. Currants, smoked black cherries, graphite, chocolate, and tobacco notes all define the nose, and it's medium to full-bodied, with a straight, focused, beautifully precise mouthfeel, gorgeous yet substantial tannins, and a great finish. It's going to hit maturity in 7-8 years and have 30 years of longevity or more. The 2021 is mostly Merlot, checking in as 50.3% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11.7% Cabernet Franc, hitting 13.8% alcohol and resting in 73% new French oak. 95-97 points" Jebdunnuck.com------"The 2021 Haut-Brion is all class, all finesse. Naturally the overt intensity of recent vintages is replaced by a more understated style in 2021. Silky tannins caress a core of dark cherry/plum fruit. Hints of lavender, new leather, cloves and menthol gradually open. The trademark Haut-Brion aromatics are going to need a number of years in bottle to develop. The 2021 is hardly a blockbuster, and yet in many ways it is so primary. 95-97 points" Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com------"A candidate for the title of wine of the vintage, the 2021 Haut-Brion unwinds in the glass with aromas of rich red and black fruit mingled with notions of cigar wrapper, licorice, black truffles, loamy soil and burning embers. Full-bodied, deep and concentrated, it's elegant and multidimensional, with superb depth at the core, lively acids and ultra-refined tannins. Combining the classical proportions of the vintages of two decades ago with the viticultural and winemaking of today, it's a timeless classic in the making, but it's difficult to find an obvious analogy with an older vintage. When pressed, Jean-Philippe Delmas suggests a superior version of the 2014 vintage, and to me, a more concentrated, serious version of the 2012 vintage also comes to mind. What is clear, however, is that this is one of the real high points of 2021. The blend is 50% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Cabernet Franc, and it attained 13.8% alcohol—a percentage point or so lower than in 2020 or 2019. 96-98 points" William Kelley, RobertParker.com------"A very structured young Haut-Brion with blackberry, blackcurrant, black-olive and mushroom character. Medium to full-bodied with a driving balance of firm and ripe tannins and gorgeous fruit. 50.3% merlot, 38% cabernet sauvignon and 11.7% cabernet franc. 97-98 points" jamessuckling.com

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