One of the highlights of my visit to Bordeaux, Chateau Haut-Brion is one of the world’s great historic wineries of France, and is one of five to achieve the Premier Grand Cru Classé (First Growth). Located in Pessac, right outside the town of Bordeaux, the winery itself is right outside the city, which is rather intriguing as this is the only first growth from the Pessac-Leognan appellation.
There is historical records of the cultivation of this property dating back to 1423. The property was bought by Jean de Ségur in 1509, and in 1525 was owned by Admiral Philippe de Chabot. The estate Château Haut-Brion dates back to April 1525 when Jean de Pontac married Jeanne de Bellon, and in 1533 the Admiral bought the title to the domain of Haut-Brion, while construction actual chateau commenced in 1549. Remarkably there are first records of Chateau Haut-Brion wine found in the wine cellar ledger of the English King Charles II in 1660. In 1787, former United States President, Thomas Jefferson, visited Chateau Haut-Brion and his notes ranked Chateau Haut-Brion among the four estates of first quality in Bordeaux. It is well-known that Jefferson had a great deal of Chateau Haut-Brion in his personal collection.
Fast forward to the twentieth-century, following a series of unsuccessful owners during difficult times, the American banker Clarence Dillon purchased Chteau Haut-Brion in 1935 for roughly 2 million Francs. Dillon quickly turned around the quality of the wines, investing heavily into the property. Chateau Haut-Brion devotes nearly 120 acres to the production of their red wines, while a mere 7.1 acres are planted to white varietals (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon).
Walking along the vineyards, you are just amazed with how close to town everything is. There are even condos that have been recently built that overlook the vineyards. Hopefully one is for sale! The iconic chateau lies in the center of the property and it literally gave me the chills thinking about the history of all that have graced this famed property.
At the end of my tour I was able to try an older vintage of Chateau Haut-Brion, coming from a less than heralded vintage. The 2011 Chateau Haut-Brion Bordeaux (WWB, 94) is a seriously good wine from this vintage — one of the top 2011 wines I have sampled. The wine is quite young and tannic but has tremendous verve and a dazzling minerality. I was impressed also with the wonderful mouthfeel. Learn more about this famed chateau at https://www.haut-brion.com Here is my review of the 2011 Chateau Haut-Brion.
2011 Chateau Haut-Brion Bordeaux- The 2011 Chateau Haut-Brion is one of the best wines made from this challenging vintage in Bordeaux. Showing off its dark hue, on the nose this Haut-Brion opens with wonderful damp earth aromas with wild mushroom and peat moss that combine with the dark fruits and milk chocolate undertones. The palate shows incredible freshness and tension with red bell pepper, red cherry, anise and cassis accents. I admire the strong salinity that weaves through the mid-palate. This finishes strong with bright minerals that connect with the dark fruits. While not exceedingly rich, this is a wonderful wine from what was a challenging vintage in Bordeaux. This is classic Bordeaux with great elegance and finesse. Drink 2020-2040- 94