2004 Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan
Wine & Spirits
Open the bottle and you'll find harmony in the glass, but the wine remains subtle, stony and mute, as if the flavors lie behind a closed door. Over the course of several days, that door begins to open, the stoniness transforms into sleek fruit, as if to mirror the complexity of the multicolored pebbles that sustain Haut-Brion's vines, a range of flavors from red to purple to black. The structure grows increasingly substantial, while the harmony remains, lending the wine mysterious power. Twenty years from now, this will just begin to reach a plateau and should sustain itself long after.
Of the pair of châteaux, La Mission Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion (both owned by the Dillon banking family) that face each other across the crowded streets of Pessac, Haut-Brion is the one with the structure, the darkness, the brooding character. This is so true of 2004, with its hugely firm structure underlying the initial supple fruit. At the end, the acidity is an enticing surprise, lifting the aftertaste.
*Collectible* Wonderful aromas of dried flowers, currant, berries and mineral. Full-bodied, yet reserved and refined. Lovely texture, with a pure silk feel. Seamless and beautiful. Great length. Even better than from barrel.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Medium to deep garnet colour. The nose is still a little mute giving a moderate intensity of youthful aromas: ripe plums, cassis, Chinese five spice, moss and a fair amount of cedar. Oak tannins seem to dominate the structure contributing to the taut astringency of the palate yet there is a good amount of ripe berry and earthy fruit plus medium acidity to balance. Long earthy finish. Drink 2012 to 2034. (LPB)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Good deep ruby-red. Reticent nose showed some dark cherry with aeration. Densely packed but youthfully closed, even a bit austere today, offering hints of black raspberry and minerals. This is fairly tannic wine (the IPT is 72) but there's nothing hard about it. My sample gained in sweetness and texture with aeration, although its fruit character remained tightly wound. Give this time in a carafe if you plan to try it anytime soon. 91+ (ST)
Deep brick-tinged garnet. Gentle and complex aromas that are hard to describe discretely. Overall there's a slightly leafy note but there's a lovely warm, spicy sweetness, a little earthy and still a trace of red fruits. More austere on the palate than I expected. Refined and refreshing. The tannins quite dry at the very end. (JH)
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 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 its wine was even served to Charles II! The estate is now owned and lovingly managed by the Dillon family—the royal family of Luxembourg.