2011 Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan (Pre-Arrival)
An impressively silky wine. Dry yet intensely fruity, the palate shows big fruit, smooth tannins and a perfumed character.
Complex aromas of brown sugar, sweet tobacco and dark fruits. Turns to hints of prunes and cocoa. Full-bodied, with ultra fine tannins and a wonderful length. Refined and silky. Beautiful balance. Such wonderful length. Turns chewy yet very polished.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Like its stablemate La Mission-Haut-Brion, Haut-Brion’s 2011 production was small, only 7,600 cases, which is nearly 3,000 fewer cases than in 2009. A blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 19% Cabernet Franc, it is interesting to taste the 2011 Haut-Brion next to the more open-knit, seductive 2011 La Mission Haut-Brion. The former wine is more firm, backward and earthy with a more formidably structured style. Undeniably elegant, distinctive and original, it exhibits notes of mulberries, plums, blueberries and raspberries. Jean-Philippe Delmas told me that in many ways the 2011 reminds him of the 2008 from an aromatic and structural profile. There is plenty of tannin, and the 2011 has 25-30 years of aging potential. It may be more reminiscent of a vintage such as 1988, but it is better made as well as being the product of a far stricter selection process.
This packs some serious density for the vintage, with layers of braised fig, blackberry pâte de fruit and dark currant paste, all inlaid with lively briar, tobacco leaf and roasted apple wood notes. Shows lots of energy through the finish, with the grip generating a mouthwatering feel. One of the stars of the vintage. Best from 2018 through 2035.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
(46% cabernet sauvignon, 35% merlot and 19% cabernet franc blend; 3.61 pH): Dark ruby-red. Big, rich and creamy on entry, then tighter and a bit austere in the middle, showing pure cassis, red berry and mineral flavors that carry through nicely on the rising finish. Very fine-grained Haut-Brion with a lingering cocoa nuance. Technical director Masclef noted that the team did shorter cuvaisons of about 15 days, vs. a typical 21, and at slightly lower temperatures too. I think the high-quality cabernet franc here has helped this wine gain a measure of refinement that is not always there in vintages with higher proportions of merlot. Another potentially great Haut Brion, more austere and less fleshy than recent efforts but very classic.
Deep black cherry colour. Warm sweet cherry fruit, with the most chocolate-smooth (and in no way thick) tannins but also the acidity of fresh fruit too, fresh cherry. Very fine, intense and aromatic red fruit with just a touch of graphite. There's density and richness on the middle but such amazing softness though the tannins give tension underneath like closely packed bed springs. Like falling into a deep feather cover on a firm bed. So long. 18.5/20 points.
Chateau Haut Brion is one of the 5 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 consists of 51 hectares of mostly red varietals (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot). 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.