Chateau Haut Brion Tasting back to the Legendary 1945 Vintage

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - 07:30 PM

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"Red wine with fish. Well, that should have told me something."

Bond in From Russia with Love (1963)

 

 

 

You can eat fish and drink red wine, but we don't recommend it especially with wines like Chateau Haut Brion. 

 

How many times will you be able to host a tasting with this legendary wine back to the 1945 vintage? That is why we call this series of tastings "Once in a lifetime".  With the price of all the "blue chip" wines from Bordeaux reaching stratospheric proportions the price of this event is almost irrelative. If you can afford to drink Chateau Haut Brion, you don’t need to ask how much this event costs.

We visited the Chateau for en pemier week the first week in April to taste the 2018 vintage and to see our friend, the sales director Guillaume-Alexandre Marx.  Not only was the newest release from Chateau Haut Brion one of the best wines that we tasted from the outstanding 2018 vintage, but this is the only one of the first growths of Bordeaux that gives you a chair to sit in while tasting the wines!  Kudos to our friends at Chateau Haut Brion that not only make great wines but also make you feel comfortable while you are visiting.

So, when Guillaume informed us that he would be visiting South Florida the first week in May I insisted that we scheduled a date to drink the newly acquired 1945 vintage Chateau Haut Brion along with a few other vintages that we have in the store.  Remember my motto- “Always Drink The Good Stuff First” and whenever a great vintage like 1945 comes my way I would rather drink it and give the experience to as many “Wine Drinking People” as I can than sell it…

Join us on Wednesday May 8th as we taste through 10 vintages of this first growth Bordeaux covering 6 decades.  Chef Toni Lampasone will be making a special meal to accompany the tasting wines.  The fee for this tasting which includes dinner is $895 + tax per person for reservations call 954-523-9463 or email andy@winewatch.com.

 

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Chateau Haut Brion Tasting back to the Legendary 1945 Vintage
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
7:30 PM

 

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1945 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan 

1975 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan

1986 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan

1988 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan

1990 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan

1995 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan

2000 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan

2005 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan

2009 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan

1989 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan Blanc

2010 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan Blanc

2001 Chateau Climens Barsac

Menu

Selection of cheese and Charcuterie

Smoked Mushroom Carpaccio with fresh herbs and black pepper aioli

A5 Wagyu Japanese Kobe Seared Rare with Asian Five Spice Noodle Salad

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee with fresh peachs

 

There are only 12 spaces available for this event and the fee for this tasting which includes dinner is $895 + tax per person for reservations call 954-523-9463 or email andy@winewatch.com

 

 

A brief history of Chateau Haut Brion:

 

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It is commonly - but erroneously supposed - that the famous 1855 Classification of the great wines of Bordeaux was a classification of the Médoc only, with Château Haut Brion in the Graves somehow muscling in because it was too prestigious to be excluded.  A research of the facts proves this widely held belief to be untrue.  The 1855 Classification was, in fact, a list of the best wines of the entire Bordeaux area.  If no Saint-Emilions or Pomerols appear, and indeed no other Graves, it was because they were not considered good enough.  Haut Brion, however, made the list as one of the four original premiers crus just behind Lafite, Margaux, and Latour; furthermore, it can claim to be the most senior of them all.  Château Haut Brion is in fact the oldest wine producing estate in the entire Bordeaux area.  Not only was it the first to establish itself and not only did it fetch a much higher price than the other first growths for nearly a century after, Château Haut Brion was also the very first single-property Bordeaux wine to be mentioned in English literature.  The following quote is from Samuel Pepys's diary on 10 April 1663: "to the Royal Oake Taverne...And here drank a sort of French wine called Ho Bryan, tha hath a good and most particular taste that I never met with."  Pepys several times refers to claret in his diary and at least once to clarets in the plural, denoting that several alternatives were on offer.  However, nowhere else in the diary did he refer to any other Bordeaux wine by name.

There are records of Haut Brion as a place name dating back to the fourteenth century, though at that time it was more commonly rendered D'Aubrion.  D'Aubrion passed through a number of hands until the lands and building were acquired by the Pontac family, a dynasty of wealthy merchants and politicians which flourished at Haut Brion (and did much to establish its enormous early reputation) until Napoleonic times.  The name Haut Brion, also referred to interchangeably by this time as Pontac, is also recorded in the works of Dryden, Defoe, Swift and John Evelyn.  The latter wrote from London in July 1683 of having "much discourse with M. Pontaq...owner of that excellent vignoble of Pontaq and O'Brien, from whence came the choicest of our Bordeaux wines".  More interestingly, the property was actually visited by the great political philosopher John Locke on May 14, 1677.  Locke wrote: "It is a little rise of ground open to the west, in a white sand mixed with gravel - scarce fitting to bear anything..." Locke goes on to add "that the best quality at Bordeaux is Médoc or Pontac."

Over the ensuing centuries Haut Brion was bought and sold many times - perhaps its most famous proprietor was the French Foreign Minister, Talleyrand, who purchased it in 1801 after the previous owner had been guillotined.  After Talleyrand's brief stewardship, Haut Brion suffered a period of decline and changed hands several more times.  Auctioned in 1836 for almost 300,000 francs, the estate was purchased by a Parisian banker, Joseph-Eugène Larrieu.  This was a turning point for Haut Brion - the Larrieu dynasty lasted nearly a 100 years during which time Haut Brion enjoyed one of the most successful stretches in its illustrious history.  However, just before World War I, Haut Brion went through a very difficult period and began to slip badly until it was sold once again in the mid 1930's.  The purchaser was Clarence Dillon, an American financier.  He paid 2,350,000 francs, a little over $300,000 at the rate of exchange ruling at the time.  Cheval-Blanc, it is said, was also on the market for the same very reasonable price; and so was the great Château Ausone.  However, Dillon and his party got lost in the fog and never reached either of the latter properties; they settled for Haut Brion and its comfortable accessibility to the city.  In 1962 the management company, Domaine Clarence Dillon SA, was transferred to Douglas Dillon, former United States Ambassador and Secretary of the Treasury under Kennedy.  The president of the company is now his daughter Joan, Duchesse de Mouchy; the senior Dillon died in 1979 at the age of 96.  The last 25 years have seen an extensive program of modernization of Haut Brion under the direction of the resident administrators Georges Delmas, who arrived at Haut Brion in 1921 and his son Jean-Bernard, the current director of affairs, who took over in 1960.

The château itself was built in 1550 and enlarged in the 1740's and is familiar to anyone who has seen the label on a bottle of Haut Brion. In the courtyard outside, a male and female stone lion crouch on guard.  Inside in the hall is a plaque commemorating the fact that Clarence and Anne Dillon equipped the Château as a hospital and gave it to the French for use during the Second World War.  The building faces west, away from the vineyard, and lies in a small parc anglais.  Deeper in this garden are tennis courts and a swimming pool; and further on is the back entrance to the house of Jean-Bernard Delmas.

Haut Brion is in Pessac in the northern end of the Graves district, three miles from the center of Bordeaux.  Across the road is the great Château La Mission Haut Brion, a property that sometimes rivals and even surpasses Haut Brion.  At one time in the Middle Ages, La Mission was most certainly a part of Haut Brion.  These are the nearest major vineyards to the heart of the city; and these two, virtually alone, have been able to withstand the march of concrete from the city outward.  The vineyard, which straddles both sides of the main Bordeaux-Arcachon road and railway, is planted to 115 acres of vines in the ratio of 45 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 10 per cent cabernet franc, and 45 per cent merlot - a lower cabernet and higher merlot percentage than a few years ago.  Jean Delmas, one of the most able and respected winemakers in Bordeaux, was one of the first in Bordeaux to see the implications of the right rootstock as well as of clonal selection of the vines.  For the last thirty years, and more particularly since 1977, he has been conducting experiments to produce the best clone for each of the three grape varieties.  In total there are some 550 individual clones now coming into fruition.  This research will enable poor quality clones and sterile plants to be progressively eliminated. Delmas belies the image that winemakers for the great growths are nothing more than caretakers.  Improving on the very best has been the life goal of Jean Delmas.  Haut Brion also produces an exquisite dry white known as Haut Brion Blanc.  For the white there are some eight acres under vine - half sauvignon blanc and half sémillon.  The wine is fermented and aged in new oak and bottled fourteen to sixteen months after the harvest.  It is a wine which is rarely offered on the Bordeaux market and not often seen on winelists except in the top local restaurants.  The quality of the wine, however, is very high and is generally considered the very best of the now chic white wines of Graves.  In addition, there is a second label for the red known as le Clarence de Haut Brion.

The one word used to sum up the red of Château Haut Brion is elegant.  One could also add charming and consistent.  Although Haut Brion does not have the acclaim of Lafite or Pétrus or fetch the same sort of astronomical prices at auction, it is certainly in their same class.  Moreover, when one considers quality, prestige, and historical legacy, Château Haut Brion must be considered the single most important wine estate in France and the only one of the first growths to give you a seat to taste the wines at en premier.  Bravo the 2018’s were spectacular and we set this dinner up with the sales director Guillaume-Alexandre Marx just a month ago after learning that he would be in South Florida.  Guillaume will be bringing a few special bottles from the Chateau in addition to our line-up this evening!

 

 

Other Vintages of Chateau Haut Brion in the store:

 

2008 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan Magnum
Price: $1350.00    Sale Price: $995.00         Quantity in Stock: 1

2000 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan
Price: $1150.00    Sale Price: $825.00         Quantity in Stock: 3

1995 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan
Price: $575.00    Sale Price: $495.00           Quantity in Stock: 4

1990 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan
Price: $1400.00    Your Price: $1232.00      Quantity in Stock: 1

1989 Chateau Haut Brion Blanc Pessac Leognan
Price: $2500.00    Sale Price: $2250.00       Quantity in Stock: 1

1986 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan
Price: $695.00    Sale Price: $595.00           Quantity in Stock: 1

1986 Chateau Haut Brion (Damaged Label)
Price: $618.00    Sale Price: $525.00           Quantity in Stock: 1

1981 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan
Price: $382.00    Sale Price: $325.00           Quantity in Stock: 1

1979 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan
Price: $441.00    Sale Price: $375.00           Quantity in Stock: 1

1975 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan
Price: $820.00    Sale Price: $695.00           Quantity in Stock: 3

1961 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan
Price: $4120.00    Sale Price: $3500.00       Quantity in Stock: 1

 

Chateau La Mission Haut Brion

 

1978 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Pessac Leognan
Price: $850.00    Sale Price: $700.00           Quantity in Stock: 1

2013 La Chapelle Mission Haut Brion Pessac Leognan
Price: $59.00    Your Price: $51.92               Quantity in Stock: 1

1966 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion Pessac Leognan (torn label)
Price: $950.00    Sale Price: $750.00           Quantity in Stock: 1

1964 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan (torn and stained label)(mid shoulder)
Price: $550.00    Sale Price: $299.00           Quantity in Stock: 1