2003 Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

SKU #1023804 96 points James Suckling

 An intense, opulent nose with notes of ripe fruits and meat. An exotic and decadent wine, it boasts a full body, with big velvety tannins and loads of complexity. Layers and layers of flavors. Let this sit until 2015.  (4/2011)

96 points Wine Spectator

 Complex aromas of black licorice, tobacco and cedar with red fruits. Full-bodied, with superseductive, silky tannins, loads of fruit and a finish that lasts for minutes. A beauty in all the sense of the word. Best after 2012. (JS)  (3/2006)

95 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Even better, and clearly the best wine made in the Haut-Brion stable in 2003 (the last vintage of the great Jean-Bernard Delmas as administrator), the 2003 Haut-Brion is a blend of 58% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cabernet Franc that hit 13% natural alcohol, which seemed high at the time, but given more recent vintages is modest. Dark ruby/plum in color, with no amber or orange at the edge, the wine exhibits an abundance of roasted herbs, hot rocks, black currants, plum, and balsamic notes. Quite rich, medium to full-bodied and more complete, with sweeter tannins than La Mission Haut-Brion, this full-bodied Haut-Brion has hit full maturity, where it should stay for at least a decade. Bravo! (RP)  (8/2014)

94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Deep ruby-red. The freshest on the nose of the 2003s at this address, offering slightly high-toned smoky raspberry, minerals and graphite and a suggestion of medicinal austerity. Offers great breadth and early charm, but also possesses very firm underlying structure. Finishes with big, ripe tannins and outstanding grip and length.  (6/2006)

93 points Wine & Spirits

 This has the deep stoniness of Haut-Brion, but it's hard to recognize through all the sweet fruit. Initially, that sweet ripeness puts it in line with Napa Valley Cabernets, tasting sleek, firm and intense. The tannins become more prominent with air, making the wine feel huge and muscular, gripping all the flavor and closing it down. Rather than freshness, this offers robust mineral flavor and strength of tannin to carry it into maturity.  (10/2006)

Jancis Robinson

 Dark ruby. Opulent and sweet with some real depth of flavour. The slightly burnt note was more indicative of Haut-Brion's 'warm bricks' character than sunburnt grapes. Long, rich and quite satisfying. Lively and very fresh with a cool, dry finish. Not remotely like the stereotype of an overripe 2003. Neat and dry on the end. 18/20 points. Drink 2011-2023.  (3/2013)

K&L Notes

Chateau Haut Brion is one of the five First Growth wines of Bordeaux, and the only one in Graves. Located on two hillocks gravel over clay and sand in Pessac, it's classic Graves terroir, consisting of 51 hectares of mostly red varietals (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot). It is the oldest wine estate in Bordeaux and the wine was even served to Charles II! The estate is now owned and lovingly managed by the Dillon family, the royal family of Luxembourg.

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Varietal:

Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

- Cabernet Sauvignon has come a long way from its role as a blending varietal, however dominant, in the wines of Bordeaux. Today it is the most planted red varietal in the world. Identified as a descendent of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be planted in warmer climates to fully ripen. Its small berries can easily be identified for their distinctive blue color, thick skins and high tannins. And while the varietal has its own definitive characteristics: green pepper-like aromas and black currant flavors among them, it is perhaps most prized for its ability to convey terroir, vintage and winemaking. A relatively new varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon started making inroads into the wines of the M├ędoc and Graves in the late-18th century. Today it is also dominant in the up-and-coming Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux and can also be found in Southwest France. It is the companion varietal to Sangiovese in Italy's Super Tuscans and is planted all over Europe, stretching to lesser-known winegrowing regions like Russia and Lebanon. In the Americas Cabernet Sauvignon has found champions in every nook and cranny of California and among winemakers in Washington, where it complements plantings of Merlot. In South America, Cab thrives in Chile, but can also be found in smaller amounts in Argentina and even in Mexico.
Country:

France

- When it comes to wine, France stands alone. No other country can beat it in terms of quality and diversity. And while many of its Region, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne most obviously, produce wine as rare, as sought-after and nearly as expensive as gold, there are just as many obscurities and values to be had from little known appellations throughout the country. To learn everything there is to know about French wine would take a lifetime. To understand and appreciate French wine, one only has to begin tasting them. Click for a list of bestselling items from all of France.
Sub-Region:

Bordeaux

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Specific Appellation:

Pessac-Leognan/Graves

- Graves is the large red and white wine region located to the southeast of the city of Bordeaux along the Garonne River. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the red wines from the area, while the whites are mixtures of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The most important area within the Graves is the village of Pessac-Leognan. Most of the great chateaux, including Haut Brion, a premier cru and the only wine outside of the Medoc to be included in the 1855 Classification, are located in this small appellation. Graves derives its name from the rocky, stony terrain of the region. Many people believe that the stony soil radiates the day's heat at night and thus makes the grapes ripen earlier than the other regions in Bordeaux.