The Best Value of the 5 First Growths 2005 Chateau Haut Brion - "Wine doesn’t get any better and this tour de force can be drunk anytime over the coming three decades or more."
- Jeb Dunnuck 100 Points
When talking about the best fine wines this world has to offer, one of the first estates to come up in conversation will always be Bordeaux’s infamous Château Haut-Brion. This historic estate has woven a tapestry of innovation, resilience, and unwavering commitment to crafting exceptional wines for over two millennia. Diving deeper into the history and winemaking at Haut-Brion will leave anyone in awe and wanting to savor one of the Château’s marvelous wines.
History As Rich as Its Wine
Château Haut-Brion, with a history spanning over 2,000 years, holds a prominent place in the world of wine. The discovery of gravels, tiny quartz pebbles, marked the beginning of viticulture in the Haut-Brion area around the first century A.D., with Roman influence playing a crucial role. In the 16th century, the term "cru" was associated with Aubrion and Haulbrion, setting the stage for Haut-Brion's evolution. Jean de Pontac, a key figure in the estate's history, expanded and improved it, leading to the construction of the château in 1549.
Arnaud III de Pontac, in the 17th century, revolutionized winemaking, creating the "New French Claret," a precursor to modern Grand Cru reds. Haut-Brion gained royal favor in 1660, serving wine at Charles II's coronation, attracting attention from famous figures like John Locke. In 1749, Joseph de Fumel initiated a golden age, and in 1787, Thomas Jefferson praised Haut-Brion in his writings.
In 1935, Clarence Dillon, a New York banker, purchased Haut-Brion, beginning a lasting American connection. The Dillon family's stewardship, marked by modernization and a hospital conversion during World War II, continued into the 21st century.
Joan Dillon's renovations in the late 20th century, including a high-tech vat room, showcased her dedication to preserving Château Haut-Brion's legacy.
Château Haut-Brion's rich history, from Roman origins to its present-day legacy under the Dillon family, reflects not only the evolution of winemaking but also its enduring impact on the world of fine wines.
The Legendary Wine – A “Tour De Force” In Winemaking
"atour de force in winemaking"
Robert Parker 100 Points for the 2005
So many 100 Points tasting notes to present on the incredible wine of Château Haut-Brion. The multiple perfect-score-reviews must suffice to get a sense of what these bottles entail.
From the Terroir to The Bottle
Château Haut-Brion's vineyard, located in the commune of Pessac, unfolds as a patchwork of history and geography. Belonging to the esteemed Pessac-Léognan appellation, the estate holds the unique distinction of being both a First Growth from the 1855 classification and a Classified Growth of the Graves. The birth of this vinous legend traces back 2,000 years, where Romans, upon discovering a terrace adorned with tiny quartz pebbles known as "graves," unknowingly laid the foundation for the concept of terroir.
The essence of Haut-Brion lies in its gravelly soils, a composition of small stones featuring various types of quartz. This unique terroir rests upon a subsoil rich in clay, sand, limestone, and shelly sand—a representation of the geological evolution spanning the Tertiary and Quaternary eras. The meticulous attention to this terroir, with its natural drainage and hydrographic network, contributes to the exceptional wine-growing potential that defines Château Haut-Brion.
Chateau Haut Brion Varietals
At Chateau Haut Brion, 50 hectares of vineyards are meticulously cultivated, featuring a thoughtfully composed blend of grape varieties for their renowned red wine. The composition includes 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc, and a subtle 1% Petit Verdot. Notably, there has been a shift in plantings since the mid-1990s, reflecting a decrease in Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, accompanied by a modest uptick in Merlot.
Within this historic estate, an additional 3 hectares are dedicated to the cultivation of white Bordeaux wine grape varietals. For the creation of Chateau Haut Brion Blanc, the vineyard boasts a precise blend of 51.5% Semillon and 48.5% Sauvignon Blanc. It's worth mentioning that a small quantity of Sauvignon Gris contributes to the diversity of the vineyard. This strategic planting approach signifies a notable increase in Sauvignon Blanc over the years.
A noteworthy aspect is that Chateau Haut Brion takes pride in utilizing barrels from their own onsite cooperage for as much as 70% of the aging process, a collaborative effort with the Seguin Moreau company. Frequent rackings, conducted "à l’esquive," allow for precise development, oxygenation, and the formation of character. The slow aging process continues as the wine is bottled, a testament to Haut-Brion's commitment to crafting a Premier Grand Cru that stands the test of time.
A True Revelation
As the Dillon family continues to steward Château Haut-Brion, the estate remains a beacon of Bordeaux's winemaking heritage. With its roots in ancient gravels and a history marked by visionary leaders, Haut-Brion illustrates the enduring pursuit of excellence in the world of fine wines. Tasting one of Haut-Brions wines is nothing short of a revelation and is a necessity for anyone invested in the world of wine.