Haut-Brion’s grand vin is the embodiment of five centuries of tradition and plays a pivotal role in the worldwide history of wine. It is the oldest of the Bordeaux classed growths, the inventor of a new style of wine fashioned in the seventeenth century, and considered the world’s first luxury brand.
Typically more Merlot dominant than other Left Bank wines, the terroir of Haut-Brion is expressed through its empyreumatic bouquet (Havana cigars, chocolate, roasting, cedar wood, and so on). The attack is restrained, with precise yet exceedingly soft tannins. But the power of this wine is revealed in the surprising long mid-palate and even longer finish.
The oldest of Bordeaux’s five first growths and the only property outside the Medoc to be included in the 1855 Classification, Chateau Haut-Brion was founded by Jean de Pontac in 1533. The name derives from the Celtic word briga, meaning “hill” or “high place”, and refers to the gravelly elevated terrain situated between the Le Peuge and Le Serpent streams.
History shows that as early as 1660, Haut-Brion wines were already appreciated at royal tables as evidenced by the purchase of 169 bottles by King Charles II of England, noted in the royal cellar book. Among the wine’s admirers are the famous London diarist Samuel Pepys, and Thomas Jefferson, who had distinguished the wine’s quality long before the 1855 Classification.
Arnaud III de Pontac was responsible for building the estate’s international reputation and for creating a new style of wine that is the basis for all currently classified growths - an era which historians have described as a revolution in winemaking.
Chateau Haut-Brion was acquired by the American financier Clarence Dillon on May 13, 1935 and has been managed by the same family since. Much of the estate’s success is also credited to the Delmas family, who have worked the estate for three generations. Nearly five centuries after the creation of its vineyard and 350 years after the first published mention under its current name, Chateau Haut-Brion remains one of the finest wines in the world today.