Château Haut-Brion Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend Pessac-Léognan Blanc 1998
This wine has a handsome color of deep, fresh, ruby red. The nose is not completely open due to the great structure of its tannins. The equilibrium of the wine is remarkable with mature fruit already evident. Its emerging strength, though only slightly developed, indeed insinuates the richness to come. This is a great bottle in the making. The finale is suave, soft and tannic all at the same time. It is an exceptional bottle for its density.
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Out of the 98s, probably the best first growth, and probably the best wine of the vintage, including the stellar right bank wines of 1998. As I remember, Haut Brion picked before the rain, and this wine is a gem in a under-rated vintage. A little homework is needed. We decanted this wine for only 3 hours, but we still experienced one of our all time greatest wines, period. It had notes of smokey dark fruit, with sage, spice, white pepper and minerals. The taste was that of a truly spiritual one. Silky, smooth, elegant, powerful, multi dimensional,subtle and profound, all at the same time. The finish seemed to linger for a few minutes. Truly stunning and worth every penny. The most excellent Domaine de Chevalier 98 seemed whimsical compared to Haut-Brion, same session. Out of the four of us, this rating rang true for everyone. This will be noted as one of my all time favorite wines.
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It will always be tempting to compare the 2000 Haut-Brion with the perfect 2000 La Mission Haut-Brion. However, it is not as fat, unctuous, flamboyant, or voluminous as La Mission. Yet, like a great diplomat, it is a wine of intensity, authority, and measured restraint. A supremely elegant offering, its dense ruby/purple color, and burgeoning perfume of scorched earth, liquid minerals, plums, black currants, cherries, lead pencil, and subtle spicy oak are followed by a delicate yet powerfully flavorful, multi-layered, highly nuanced, and extraordinarily pure and seamless wine. There have been so many recent classics from Haut-Brion, it is premature to suggest the 2000 is better than the 1998, 1995, 1990, or 1989, but it is certainly a prodigious wine of dazzling persistence, length, and complexity. A blend of 51% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Cabernet Franc, it should prove to be uncommonly long-lived, even by the standards of Haut-Brion. Anticipated maturity: 2012ndash;2040.
The 2000 Haut-Brion possesses a saturated ruby/purple color as well as a striking perfume of wet steel, hot rocks, minerals, plums, black currants, and cherries. Elegant yet deep, delicate yet authoritatively flavorful, this subtle, highly nuanced yet stunningly rich offering is a great Haut-Brion. The wine (a blend of 51% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Cabernet Franc) is a sensational Haut-Brion that should be uncommonly long-lived, even by the standards of this noble chateau. Anticipated maturity: 2012ndash;2040.
Haut-Brionrsquo;s saturated purple-colored 1995 is a superb effort. Not far off the quality of the magnificent 1989 and increasingly impressive 1990, the 1995 possesses that extra dimension of sweetness, glycerin, and fat that are the hallmarks of a vintage shaped by abundant sun and ripeness. Full-bodied, yet not heavy, the 1995 Haut-Brion displays a smoky, tobacco, roasted herb, and blackcurrant/plum-scented nose. Very ripe, yet nicely buttressed by soft acid and sweet tannin, this graceful, seamlessly made Haut-Brion should drink well when young, and last for 25+years. Bravo!!
This wine has been brilliant on every occasion I have tasted it. More accessible and forward than the 1996, it possesses a saturated ruby/purple color, as well as a beautiful, knock-out set of aromatics, consisting of black fruits, vanillin, spice, and wood-fire smoke. Multidimensional and rich, with layers of ripe fruit, and beautifully integrated tannin and acidity, this medium to full-bodied wine is a graceful, seamless, exceptional Haut-Brion that should drink surprisingly well young. Anticipated maturity: 2002ndash;2030.
Haut-Brion has been the most consistent first-growth over the last decade, producing top-notch wines, even in such tough years as 1987, 1993, and 1994. I have had a tendency to forget just how exceptional the 1990 Haut-Brion is because of the huge shadow cast by the 1989. However, in this blind tasting, the 1990 proved itself to be a great wine. Its price has not risen nearly as much as one might expect given its quality. The 1990 is a decadently ripe wine with much more evolution to its fragrant cassis, mineral, smoked-herb, hot rocks, tobacco, sweet, toasty nose. Fat, rich, and medium to full-bodied, this superbly-concentrated, forward, awesomely-endowed wine requires 4ndash;6 years of cellaring; it is capable of lasting for 20ndash;25+ years. It is an unheralded, underrated 1990 that deserves more attention.
The blockbuster 2003 Haut-Brion (13% alcohol) possesses extremely high tannin, but that component is well-concealed by a cascade of mulberry, blackberry, cherry, and plum-like fruit. There is even a hint of figs under the blue and red fruit spectrum. While broad and ripe with a sweet, glyceral mouthfeel as well as a long, powerful, persistent finish, it retains its elegance and nobility. A wine of both power and finesse, it will benefit from 3ndash;4 years of cellaring, and keep for 25ndash;30.
A pure evocation of Graves, Haut-Brionandrsquo;s andrsquo;98 is all potential energy, a powerful layering of minerals, gravel, plum skin, grape skin, red fruit and game, all compressed within unrelenting tannins. You can see the intensity in the dense black-purple color, and you can taste it in the tremendous red fruit length. for all its power, it remains one of the most elegant wines of Bordeaux. Thereandrsquo;s no bow to fashion, to international style. Jean-Bernard Delmas looks deep into the vineyard to create this wine and fashions it to develop for 20 years or more.
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