Chateau Haut-Brion

Review of the Estate

Although grapes are thought to have been grown on the property since Roman times, the earliest document indicating cultivation of a parcel of land dates from 1423. The property was bought by Jean de Ségur in 1509, and in 1525 was owned by the admiral Philippe de Chabot.

The estate Château Haut-Brion dates back to April 1525 when Jean de Pontac married Jeanne de Bellon, the daughter of the mayor of Libourne and seigneur of Hault-Brion, who brought to him in her dowry the land. In 1533 bought the mansion of Haut-Brion, while construction of the château was begun in 1549.

1649, Lord Arnaud III de Pontac became owner of Chateau Haut Brion, and the wine's growing popularity began in earnest. The first records of Haut-Brion wine found in the wine cellar ledger of the English king Charles II. During the years 1660 and 1661, 169 bottles of the "wine of Hobriono" were served at the king's court. Samuel Pepys wrote in The Diarist, having tasted the wine at Royal Oak Tavern on April 10, 1663, to have "drank a sort of French wine called Ho Bryen that hath a good and most particular taste I never met with".

In 1666, after "The Great Fire", the son François-Auguste, opened a tavern in London called "L'Enseigne de Pontac", or the "Sign of Pontac's Head", which was according to André Simon, London's first fashionable eating-house. Jonathan Swift "found the wine dear at seven shillings a flagon".

By the end of the 17th century the estate amounted to 264 hectares (650 acres) of which some 38 hectares (94 acres) were under vine. The wine was often sold under the name Pontac, though since the Pontac family owned numerous wine estates that could use the name, it is often impossible to tell when a wine came from Haut-Brion. Sometimes also spelled Pontack, another Pontac estate at Blanquefort which produced white wine would also often go by this name.

English philosopher John Locke, visiting Bordeaux in 1677, spoke of Chateau Haut-Brion, "...The wine of Pontac, so revered in England, is made on a little rise of ground, lieing open most to the west. It is nothing but pure white sand, mixed with a little gravel. One would imagin it scarce fit to beare anything." On the cause of its increasing costliness, he stated, "thanks to the rich English who sent orders that it was to be got for them at any price". The German philosopher Hegel was also enchanted with the wine of Pontac, though it is unknown if his orders were for other de Pontac wines of Saint-Estèphe.

With the death of François-Auguste de Pontac, François-Joseph de Fumel, a nephew by marriage, inherited two-thirds of Chateau Haut Brion with a third coming to Louis-Arnaud Le Comte, Lord Captal of Latresne. The de Fumel family also at one point owned Château Margaux.

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson, then American minister to France, came to Bordeaux. On May 25 he visited Chateau Haut-Brion, describing the terroir, "The soil 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 stone and a very little loam like the soils of the Médoc". His notes placed Haut-Brion among the four estates of first quality, with the entry, "3. Haut-Brion, two-thirds of which belong to the Count de Fumel who sold the harvest to a merchant called Barton. The other third belongs to the Count of Toulouse; in all, the château produces 75 barrels." Haut-Brion became the first recorded first growth wine to be imported to the United States, when Jefferson purchased six cases during the travels and had them sent back to his estate in Virginia.

As a consequence of the French Revolution, in July 1794 Joseph de Fumel was guillotined, and his holdings were divided. Posthumously, de Fumel's nephews obtained a pardon for him as well as the restitution of the confiscated property, but they left France. In 1801, they sold Chateau Haut-Brion to Talleyrand, Prince of Benevento, and owner of Haut-Brion for three years.

A less prosperous period followed between 1804 and 1836 under successive ownership of various businessmen, until Joseph-Eugène Larrieu bought Chateau Haut Brion when it was sold by auction. In 1841, by buying the Chai-Neuf building from the Marquis de Catellan, he brought the estate back to the former size of the estate up until the death of François-Auguste de Pontac in 1694. Larrieu's family owned Haut-Brion until 1923.

In the classifications of 1855 ahead of the International Exhibition in Paris, Château Haut-Brion was classified Premier Grand Cru, as the only estate from Graves among the three established First Growths of the Médoc. The prices of Haut-Brion in the 19th century were consistently higher than those of any other Bordeaux wine.



Surface area: 106.7 acres

Grape Varieties: 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Franc

Average age of vines: 36 years

Density of plantation: 8,00 vines per hectare

Average yields: 35-45 hectoliters per hectare

Average cases produced: 11,000 per year

Plateau of maturity: 10 - 40 years


Chateau Haut Brion Performance History Graph

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Haut Brion Performance History Graph

Chateau Latour Wine List

*Click on a wine to view more details including a review, recent price history and tasting notes*


Robert Parker Score

Chateau Haut Brion 1990 98
Chateau Haut Brion 1991 89
Chateau Haut Brion 1992 89
Chateau Haut Brion 1993 90
Chateau Haut Brion 1994 92+
Chateau Haut Brion 1995 92
Chateau Haut Brion 1996 95
Chateau Haut Brion 1997 89
Chateau Haut Brion 1998 96+
Chateau Haut Brion 1999 93
Chateau Haut Brion 2000 99
Chateau Haut Brion 2001 94
Chateau Haut Brion 2002 89
Chateau Haut Brion 2003 95
Chateau Haut Brion 2004 92
Chateau Haut Brion 2005 98
Chateau Haut Brion 2006 96
Chateau Haut Brion 2007 92
Chateau Haut Brion 2008 96
Chateau Haut Brion 2009 100
Chateau Haut Brion 2010 100
Chateau Haut Brion 2011 95

Bordeaux Investment Wines - Chateau Haut Brion Review

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