2020 Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux

2020 Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux

Product: 20201011247
 
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2020 Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux

Description

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.

Drink from 2030 to 2050

Jane Anson, Decanter (April 2021)

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Critics reviews

Jane Anson96/100
Antonio Galloni, Vinous97-99/100
Neal Martin, Vinous96-98/100
Wine Advocate98-100/100
Jancis Robinson MW18.5/20
James Suckling99-100/100
Jeb Dunnuck98-100/100
Michael Schuster95-98/100
Jane Anson96/100
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.

Drink from 2030 to 2050

Jane Anson, Decanter (April 2021) Read more
Antonio Galloni, Vinous97-99/100
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.

Drink from 2035 to 2070

Antonio Galloni, Vinous (June 2021) Read more
Neal Martin, Vinous96-98/100
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.

Drink from 2028 to 2055

Neal Martin, Vinous (May 2021) Read more
Wine Advocate98-100/100
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 from 2029 to 2064

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (May 2021) Read more
Jancis Robinson MW18.5/20
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

Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com (April 2021) Read more
James Suckling99-100/100
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?

James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (April 2021) Read more
Jeb Dunnuck98-100/100
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.

Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com (May 2021) Read more
Michael Schuster95-98/100
A fine, discreet nose, the first in the Haut-Brion group of reds where there is the merest hint of “gravel” origin in the smell behind the crisply sweet cassis aromas; full, concentrated, finely tannic, and freshly defined; vibrantly sweet, long and complex in its fruit core, racy and aromatic (the terroir’s class will out!); there is a considerable richness of fruit here, and great subtle length across the palate, followed by splendid persistence to finish. Elegant, aristocratic, poised, even at 15%, the location’s class is all there but in a forte, almost fortissimo rendering. Clearly a very fine Haut-Brion in its current “high-alcohol” style: silky rich, sweetly ripe, fleshy cored within the fine, slightly alcohol-dried and harshened tannins. Will that texture ever mellow completely? Impossible to say at the moment.

Drink 2032 - 2050

Michael Schuster, The World of Fine Wine (May 2021) Read more

About this WINE

Chateau Haut-Brion

Chateau Haut-Brion

The only property from outside the Médoc to be included in the 1855 Classification, Haut-Brion’s viticultural history can be traced back further than its Médoc First Growth counterparts.  Samuel Pepys even mentions it in his diaries.  Situated in what is now Pessac-Léognan, the property finds itself now in the suburbs of the ever-encroaching city of Bordeaux

After falling into a state of disrepair the estate was purchased in 1935 by Clarence Dillon, an American financier, since when it has enjoyed a steady and continual resurgence to a position of pre-eminence.  Dillon’s great-grandson, Prince Robert of Luxembourg, now runs the estate, but a key influence in the reputation which Haut-Brion enjoys today is the Delmas family.  George Delmas was manager and wine-maker until 1960, when his son Jean-Bernard took over. Jean- Bernard was a visionary figure, responsible for a number of important innovations, and on his retirement in 2003 his son Jean-Philippe took over as Directeur Générale.

The vineyard is planted to 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Franc. A stunning white wine is also made, from a part of the vineyard which is 63% Semillon and 37% Sauvignon Blanc. Production is smaller than at the other First Growth Wines, totalling about 20,000 cases, shared between the Grand Vin and a second wine, formerly called Bahans-Haut-Brion but changed in 2007 to Clarence de Haut-Brion in recognition of Clarence Dillon. Production of Haut Brion Blanc is minute, less than 800 cases in most years. 

Beginning with the 2009 vintage a new white wine was introduced in the place of Clarence: La Clarté de Haut-Brion, the offspring of Domaine Clarence Dillon's two prestigious white wines: Château Haut-Brion Blanc and Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc.

Fermentation of the red wines takes place in stainless steel vats, after which the wine will spend 22 months, sometimes more, in new oak barrels before being bottled unfiltered.  For the white wine fermentation takes place in new oak barrels, after which the wine spends a further year to 15 months on its lees in barrel before bottling.  The white wine is truly sensational, equivalent in class to a top-flight White Burgundy Grand Cru, but its scarcity means that it is rarely seen.

The red wine is no less extraordinary; at its best it displays text-book Graves characteristics of cigar-box, curranty fruit, earth, smoky spice and cassis. The high Merlot content, compared to the Médoc First Growths, gives it a voluptuous edge, but does not in any way detract from its ability to age.

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Pessac-Leognan

Pessac-Leognan

In 1986 a new communal district was created within Graves, in Bordeaux,  based on the districts of Pessac and Léognan, the first of which lies within the suburbs of the city. Essentially this came about through pressure from Pessac-Léognan vignerons, who wished to disassociate themselves from growers with predominately sandy soils further south in Graves.

Pessac-Léognan has the best soils of the region, very similar to those of the Médoc, although the depth of gravel is more variable, and contains all the classed growths of the region. Some of its great names, including Ch. Haut-Brion, even sit serenely and resolutely in Bordeaux's southern urban sprawl.

The climate is milder than to the north of the city and the harvest can occur up to two weeks earlier. This gives the best wines a heady, rich and almost savoury character, laced with notes of tobacco, spice and leather. Further south, the soil is sandier with more clay, and the wines are lighter, fruity and suitable for earlier drinking.

Recommended Châteaux: Ch. Haut-Brion, Ch. la Mission Haut-Brion, Ch. Pape Clément, Ch Haut-Bailly, Domaine de Chevalier, Ch. Larrivet-Haut-Brion, Ch. Carmes Haut-Brion, Ch. La Garde, Villa Bel-Air.

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Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.

In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and  Australia.

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