2013 Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan (Pre-Arrival)
Smoke, tobacco, incense and game meld into a core of black stone fruits as the 2013 Haut-Brion shows off its personality. Like most of the reds in this range, the 2013 really needs time in the glass to blossom. Violets, lavender and melted road tar develop over time in a striking, vivid wine endowed with class as well as considerable potential. Haut-Brion is one of the more overtly muscular, broad-shouldered wines of the year. It will be interesting to see what time in barrel brings, but there is a lot to look forward to. The 2013 is 50% Merlot, 45.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4.5% Cabernet Franc.
This has weight and density, with dark plum, raspberry coulis and red currant fruit showing well already, lined with obvious but racy and integrated tannins. The finish is long and tinged with violet, tobacco and star anise notes, with lovely energy. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Tasted non-blind.
This has one of the best finishes of all reds in Bordeaux in 2013. Full and balanced with medium density in the mid-palate but it lasts for minutes on the finish. Tobacco, currant and spice character. Only 13.1% alcohol.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Its bigger sibling, the 2013 Haut-Brion, is a blend of 50% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. This classic effort tastes like a Haut-Brion, a major accomplishment in this vintage. Slightly fuller, richer and more complete than its nearby rival, La Mission Haut-Brion, it exhibits a deep ruby/purple color as well as hints of scorched earth, barbecue, charcoal, red and black currant, Asian plum sauce and spice notes. Fine-grained tannins are present, but well-integrated, and the acidity is not excessive. The result is a relatively plush, mid-weight, stylish, potentially complex Haut-Brion to drink over the next 15+ years.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
(50% merlot, 45.5% cabernet sauvignon and 4.5% cabernet franc; 26 h/h): Dark ruby. Deep, spicy aromas of blackcurrant, aromatic herbs and mint. On the palate, big, deep flavors of red berries and spicy blueberries are accented by sandalwood and aromatic herbs. Mounting tannins coat the palate dry, with the finish featuring underbrush, ink and licorice. This will need plenty of time to resolve its oak tannins. In fact, general director Jean-Philippe Delmas told me he plans to use only 65% new oak (usually 75%) in order to preserve the fruit. One of the toughest and least opulent Haut-Brion in years but it's very faithful to the vintage--which some impenetrably black and almost viscous 2013 wines are not.
***½ Château Haut-Brion is one of the five First Growth wines of Bordeaux, and the only one from Graves. Located on two hillocks gravel over clay and sand in Pessac for a classic Graves terroir. It is the oldest wine estate in Bordeaux and was even served to Charles II! The estate is now owned and lovingly managed by the Dillon family, the royal family of Luxembourg.