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2010 Haut Brion

2010 Haut Brion

100 RP

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Featured Review
As for the 2010 Haut-Brion, it does not have the power of Latour’s 2010 or the intense lead pencil shavings and chocolaty component of Lafite-Rothschild, but it is extraordinary, perfect wine. It has a slightly lower pH than the 2009 (3.7 versus the 2009's 3.8), and even higher alcohol than the 2009 (14.6%). The wine is ethereal. From its dense purple color to its incredibly subtle but striking aromatics that build incrementally, offering up a spectacular smorgasbord of aromas ranging from charcoal and camphor to black currant and blueberry liqueur and spring flowers, this wine’s finesse, elegant yet noble power and authority come through in a compelling fashion. It is full-bodied, but that’s only apparent in the aftertaste, as the wine seems to float across the palate with remarkable sweetness, harmony, and the integration of all its component parts – alcohol, tannin, acidity, wood, etc. This prodigious Haut-Brion is hard to compare to another vintage, at least right now, but it should have 50 to 75 years of aging potential. Anticipated maturity: 2022-2065+. Kudos to the team at Haut-Brion and to the proprietors, the Dillon family, who are now represented admirably and meticulously by Prince Robert of Luxembourg. He has made some changes, and all of them seem to have resulted in dramatic improvements to what was already an astonishing group of wines. Robert Parker

Robert Parker | 100 RP

Critic Reviews

As for the 2010 Haut-Brion, it does not have the power of Latour’s 2010 or the intense lead pencil shavings and chocolaty component of Lafite-Rothschild, but it is extraordinary, perfect wine. It has a slightly lower pH than the 2009 (3.7 versus the 2009’s 3.8), and even higher alcohol than the 2009 (14.6%). The wine is ethereal. From its dense purple color to its incredibly subtle but striking aromatics that build incrementally, offering up a spectacular smorgasbord of aromas ranging from charcoal and camphor to black currant and blueberry liqueur and spring flowers, this wine’s finesse, elegant yet noble power and authority come through in a compelling fashion. It is full-bodied, but that’s only apparent in the aftertaste, as the wine seems to float across the palate with remarkable sweetness, harmony, and the integration of all its component parts – alcohol, tannin, acidity, wood, etc. This prodigious Haut-Brion is hard to compare to another vintage, at least right now, but it should have 50 to 75 years of aging potential. Anticipated maturity: 2022-2065+.

Kudos to the team at Haut-Brion and to the proprietors, the Dillon family, who are now represented admirably and meticulously by Prince Robert of Luxembourg. He has made some changes, and all of them seem to have resulted in dramatic improvements to what was already an astonishing group of wines.

Robert Parker | 100 RP
Pure perfection and one of truly legendary wines out there, the 2010 is 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and the balance Cabernet Franc that hit a whopping 14.6% natural alcohol, with a healthy pH of 3.7. This deep rich, opulent beauty is just now at the early stages of its prime drink window and has an incredible array of blackcurrants, chocolate, truffly earth, graphite, and hints of tobacco. A massive wine in every sense, it still somehow stays weightless and graceful, with silky, building tannins, flawless balance, and just everything in the right place. It needs an hour or two in a decanter if drinking any time soon, and it’s going to have upwards of 75-100 years of ultimate longevity.

Jeb Dunnuck | 100 JD
Sappy, tongue-coating pastis, blackberry coulis and loganberry fruit starts this huge wine off, followed by a parade of licorice snap, violet, tar, black tea, roasted alder, wood spice and steeped black cherry fruit notes. A beam of pure cassis drives through this, and the finish pulls everything together with a mouthwatering brambly edge that should soften slowly over time. A riveting display of brawny power, unbridled energy and high-level [i]terroir[n]. Best from 2020 through 2040. 7,800 cases made.

Wine Spectator | 99 WS
Another different register as we head to Pessac-Léognan. And as with Mouton this has an exuberant grilled almond note around the edges with a thick velvety texture. You can really feel the weight and width of this wine through the mid palate and again you feel it just has so much life and pleasure ahead of it. This is all about the texture, it has an extremely marked sense of a rising tide of tannins and fruit, ready to power through the ages. Drinking Window 2025 - 2050

Decanter | 98 DEC
A firm and serious wine, complex and complicated, one of the finest wines from 2010 vintage. It has a rich undertow of black fruits, while the tannins dominate at this stage. To add to the powerful range of flavors, the wine has an edge of severity that bodes well for its long-term future.

Wine Enthusiast | 98 WE
This is very spicy with dried mushroom aromas with dark fruits and plum undertones. Sweet tobacco as well. This is full-bodied, with lots of tannins that are chewy and firm. This is muscular for HB and flexing it. Try in 2020.

James Suckling | 97 JS
The 2010 Haut-Brion has a more flamboyant and showier bouquet than the La Mission with copious black fruit, orange blossom, fireside ash and chai tea aromas that are irresistible. The palate is medium-bodied with very fine and supple tannins, firm grip, quite saline in the mouth with strong truffle notes on the finish. Quite brilliant. Tasted from an ex-château bottle at the BI Wines & Spirits 10-Year On tasting.

Vinous Media | 97 VM
(Château Haut-Brion) The 2010 Haut-Brion is one of the lowest alcohol wine in the entire Dillon stable in this vintage, as it tips the scales at a mere 14.6 percent. The merlot was brought in here starting on the 8th of September and the cabernet sauvignon did not arrive in the cellars until the first week of October. Despite it being lower in alcohol than the 2010 La Mission, it seemed even a bit riper in style, with a distinct (and troubling) note of sur maturité evident on the backend of the finish. The bouquet is deep, complex, very ripe and very vivid (from the wine’s revved up acidity?), as it soars from the glass in a blaze of cassis, dark berries, Cuban cigars, coffee bean, lovely soil tones and plenty of new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, broad-shouldered and rock solid at the core, with hard, tough tannins, coarse acids and a very long, chewy and discordant finish. Perhaps this was just an awkward time for the wine, but no one at the château seemed concerned in the least with how this wine was showing- in fact, quite the contrary- so maybe this oddly balanced showing is really how the wine is in 2010. After the very forcefully styled 2009 Haut-Brion, this power-monger 2010 is hardly reassuring for those of us that prize past vintages of Haut-Brion for its unabashed elegance and hauntingly profound expression of terroir. One has to hope that this wine will eventually pull itself together in the cellar, but it seems to be a profound departure from the past and one has to ask why this is the case. One would certainly expect that an estate of the stature and historical legacy of Haut-Brion would be above point chasing, but how does one reconcile the much more elegant renditions of the 2010 vintage at estates such as Domaine de Chevalier and Pape-Clément with these super-sized Dillon wines, if not assuming that the team here is now consciously aiming to produce much more powerful wines? I have to assume that this wine will eventually place itself at the higher end of this scale, but it was nonetheless rather a sad showing for an unabashed fan of traditional Haut Brion. (Drink between 2025-2075)

John Gilman | 83-93 JG

Wine Details for 2010 Haut Brion

Type of Wine Bordeaux Red : Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend : The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.



For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.



France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.



France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.



With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.


Region Bordeaux : Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.

The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Subregion Left Bank
Appellation Pessac-Leognan
Cru First Growth

Overview

Producer Chateau Haut Brion : In order to be classified as a First Growth of perhaps the most esteemed, prestigious and famous wine region in the world, the wine must be of incredible quality. First Growth status is reserved for the finest wines in Bordeaux and with it comes profound recognition and lofty expectations. The five Chateau that enjoy this luxurious title have in common – wines that exude ethereal superiority over the greatest wines in the world. However, one of these does not hail from the fertile and infamous soils of Medoc.

The wine of Chateau Haut Brion is not just incredible but also the only one born outside the precious lands of the Medoc. Pessac-Leognan, which is known for its well-drained, deep gravel soils is home to Haut Brion. These soils are characteristic of the northern part of the appellation, while clay and limestone are typically found farther south. The landscape is higher in elevation than that of the Medoc, with rolling hills that sweep along the left bank of the Garonne River. The climate here is warmer due to its southern location and its proximity to the city of Bordeaux. This unique Terroir awards Haut Brion with great success.

After traveling to Bordeaux in 1787, Thomas Jefferson, serving as America’s French ambassador, wrote in his diary; “The soils of Haut Brion, which I examined in great detail is made up of sand, in which there is near as much round gravel or small stones and very little loam like the soils of the Medoc.” It is interesting to note the similarities in soil type with that of Haut Brion’s fellow First Growth properties. While it enjoys the typical Medoc soil structure, it is also higher in elevation and with the warmer climate, the terroir is so unique and rewarding that it makes the inconceivable feat of becoming a First Growth that does not reside in the Medoc a bit more fathomable.

The History of this great estate is long and distinguished and includes many historical records regarding its impressive excellence, in not only its wine and terroir, but also its proficient bottling process. Chateau Haut Brion dates back to 1521, making it the oldest, continuously working winery in Bordeaux. On April 10, 1663, Samuel Peps (The Robert Parker of his days) wrote the following comment after tasting what was to him a new Bordeaux wine while at London’s Royal Oak Tavern, “There I drank a sort of French wine called Ho-Bryan that hath a good and most particular taste I never met.” On that day, Chateau Haut Brion entered the history books as being the world’s first wine to earn a professional review.

Another piece of historical acclaim is contained in a letter dated April 6, 1850, written by Joseph-Eugene Larrieu from an American wine merchant, named Loreilhe. In the letter, he complained that he did not receive enough cases of Chateau Haut Brion to satisfy his customers. Conversely, he praised Haut Brion for its packaging, stating that it was done with the greatest of care. The note also included, “labels and capsules bearing your name, which is also branded onto the cork as well as glass seal on the bottles neck.” This documentation could make Haut Brion the first major Bordeaux estate to bottle its own wine.

And of course, in 1855 Haut Brion was officially awarded First Growth status which was well deserved as Lafite, Latour and Margaux were the only other wines considered in the same class at that time. The history, allure and elite standing of Chateau Haut Brion and considering it is the sole First Growth not to hail from the Medoc, makes it a unique and treasured estate.

50 hectares of vines of the illustrious Chateau Haut Brion are planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Three hectares of the estate are planted to 51.5% Semillon and 48.5% Sauvignon Blanc and are used to source the grapes for Haut Brion Blanc. Annual production is 10,000-12,000 cases and around 650 to 850 cases for the Blanc.

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