Premier Cru Classé of Graves in 1855 and the only one among the Médoc wines, Château Haut Brion is the jewel of the Pessac-Léognan appellation. Owned by the Dillon family since 1935, the vineyard is located in the commune of Pessac, a few kilometers southwest of Bordeaux. Its wines are characterized first of all by their discretion, their restraint, and then by their unique signature, expression of their terroir.
The history of Château Haut-Brion dates back to the 1st century A.D., as attested by a Roman coin revealing the portrait of Emperor Claudius, recently found in the vineyard. It was then in 1533 that Jean Pontac acquired the rights of the seigniory of Haut-Brion from a Basque merchant, Jean Duhalde, and undertook the construction of the present château. Jean Pontac and his descendants, Arnaud II and Arnaud III de Pontac put all their efforts into producing and promoting a new style of wine (the precursor of all the current red Grands Crus), which is very well known in England under the name "New French Claret". The wine is also found on the greatest tables such as that of Charles II in 1660. Historians speak of this period as a "wine revolution".
In the 18th century, Joseph De Fumel, a descendant of the De Pontac family, took over the castle. He enlarged it and built a French-style park. Following the Revolution, the estate passed through several hands until 1935 with the arrival of Clarence Dillon. This New York banker visited the château during a stay in France and subsequently took over the reins of the estate. Clarence Dillon and his nephew, Seymour Weller, did their utmost to modernize the estate by installing electricity, landscaping the grounds and renovating the winery.
From 1975 to 2008, Joan Dillon, Clarence's granddaughter and an avid decorator, completely renovated the interior of the château, installed entrance gates and created the park surrounding the château. She took over the management of the family business with her husband and inaugurated the high-tech vat room of the château in 1991.
Today, Prince Robert of Luxembourg, Joan Dillon's son, is the owner. He renovated the magnificent buildings to honour hospitality and the art of entertaining.
CHÂTEAU HAUT-BRION, AN EXCEPTIONAL TERROIR
Located in the commune of Pessac, a few kilometers from Bordeaux, Château Haut-Brion is part of the Pessac-Léognan appellation. The vineyard covers about 52 hectares of which 50 are planted with red grapes (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot) and about 2 with white grapes (Semillon and Sauvignon).
The vines benefit from a particular climate, with hot and dry summers and mild autumns. The vineyard is located at an altitude of 20 to 30 meters above the plain and escapes the fog of the lower Garonne valley as well as the sometimes heavy rains. The vines are planted on a vast terrace of Graves resting on a unique soil of clay, sand, limestone and falun. The gravel deposits vary in thickness from 20 centimeters to more than 3 meters and form ridges with excellent exposure, with slopes that allow for natural drainage reinforced by a network of small streams such as the Peugue or the Serpent, tributaries of the Garonne.
In the castle, there is a library designed by Prince Robert of Luxembourg with nearly 2000 books as well as a museum of objects related to the history of the vine and wine created in 2009.
A great wine is a wine that is remembered
Jean-Philippe MASCLEF - Technical Director
THE UNIQUE know-how OF CHÂTEAU HAUT-BRION
Thanks to its terroir with its particular ecosystem and the ultra-qualitative work of its teams, the wines of Château Haut-Brion are today among the most renowned in the world.
It all starts with the harvest. Depending on their maturity, the grapes are harvested by hand. They are then sorted and destemmed to keep only the quintessence of the grapes. Then the berries are vatted, the temperature rises and the fermentations start. They are controlled by a system of regulations which allows the very precise management of the temperatures. After about two weeks of fermentation, when the colors, tannins and aromatic principles have brought their potential, it is time to drain the tanks. The great wines are selected and placed in new oak barrels for 20 to 24 months. This maturation will bring a soft oxidation and participate to the character of the wine.
THE cuvées OF CHÂTEAU HAUT-BRION
With its exceptional terroir and gravelly soils, the estate produces a great red wine, "Château Haut-Brion rouge", an elegant, complex wine with aromas of black fruits, chocolate, Havana and cedar wood. With light tannins that later turn out to be powerful, especially on the finish, this great wine has excellent ageing potential. This wine also exists in white, "Château Haut-Brion white". From a rare production, the white wines of Haut-Brion are the best white wines of Bordeaux, competing with the great white wines of Burgundy. The ample mouth is astonishingly long and has a great aromatic richness.
The second wine of Chateau Haut-Brion, formerly called "Bahans Haut-Brion", "La Clarence de Haut-Brion" was renamed in honor of Clarence Dillon, who bought the estate in 1935. Very close to the characteristics of the great wine, it is a harmonious and racy red wine with a nose of tobacco and black fruits. In white, the second wine of the estate, "La Clarté de Haut-Brion", is common to both Châteaux Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion. It is also a rare wine both in its composition and production, with a delicate complexity of fruity aromas conferring a great freshness.