Château Haut-Brion is located in Pessac, just outside Bordeaux. With a rich history dating back to the 15th century, it is considered the oldest wine-producing estate in the Bordeaux region. The name "Haut-Brion" is derived from the ancient Celtic word "Briga," meaning "high place" or "hill." This prestigious estate has established a reputation for consistent quality and is renowned for its exceptional wines.
The vineyard of Château Haut-Brion spans 51 hectares, characterized by a unique terroir with deep gravel, clay, sand, and limestone soils. The gravel, consisting of various quartz types, plays a crucial role in the potential of the soil for grape cultivation. The vineyards are situated on elevated slopes, reaching up to 27 meters, offering optimal conditions for vine growth.
The red grape varieties Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot dominate the vineyard, occupying 48.35 hectares, with Merlot being the most prominent at 45.4%. The remaining 2.87 hectares are dedicated to the white grape varieties Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Due to the limited production of white wine, only about 600 cases of Haut Brion Blanc are produced annually, while the grand vin red wine production ranges from 10,000 to 12,000 cases per year.
Château Haut-Brion stands out for its innovative winemaking practices. They were one of the first Bordeaux châteaus to use stainless steel vats for vinification, starting in the early 1960s. Vinification takes place in unique, double-skinned, stainless steel vats, ensuring the preservation of flavors and aromas. After a careful selection process, the wines are aged in new French oak barrels for 18 to 20 months before bottling.
The grand vin of Château Haut-Brion, a French First Growth wine, is typically composed of at least 50% Merlot, around 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and approximately 15% Cabernet Franc. Meticulous care is taken in the winemaking process to craft exceptional wines of unparalleled quality. After the grapes are harvested from the esteemed vineyards, only the finest wines are selected for Château Haut-Brion, ensuring that every bottle represents the pinnacle of excellence.
The selected wines are then placed in barrels, where they undergo maturation for a period of 18 to 20 months. During this crucial stage, the art lies in achieving the perfect integration of the barrels' wood, striking a delicate balance that allows the wine to develop without being overwhelmed by woodiness. To achieve this, the percentage of new barrels used is carefully reviewed each year, taking into account the unique characteristics of the vintage and the desired profile of the wine.
Throughout the maturation process, the wine undergoes a traditional technique known as racking "à l'esquive." This intricate procedure involves transferring the wine through the small bunghole at the base of the barrel, requiring great attention and precision. By conducting this process, the wine is gently oxygenated and exposed to the influence of the oak, which helps shape its character and enhance its development. The clarity of the wine is constantly monitored during racking, with the light of a candle serving as a discerning guide.
After the maturation period, the wine is finally bottled, marking the continuation of its slow ageing journey. This phase allows the wine to further evolve and mature, gaining complexity and refinement over time. Each bottle of Château Haut-Brion embodies the culmination of meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail, resulting in wines that showcase the unique terroir and the unwavering commitment to quality that defines the estate.
Additionally, Haut-Brion's white wine, Haut Brion Blanc, one of the world’s most expensive, dry, white wines. It is an exquisite blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Known for its rarity and exceptional quality, this white wine exhibits a refreshing character with notes of grapefruit, lemon peel, crushed rocks, flowers, honey, and melons. It is aged to perfection and can evolve for many years.
As a pioneer in the industry, Château Haut-Brion has introduced several practices that have become standard today. They were the first to produce wines with extended aging potential by implementing longer periods of barrel aging and topping off the barrels to reduce oxygen exposure. Additionally, they were the first to market their wines outside their appellation, and they were the only First Growth not located in the Médoc when the Bordeaux wine classification of 1855 was established.
Château Haut-Brion's rich heritage, dedication to quality winemaking, and exceptional terroir make its wines highly sought after by wine enthusiasts and collectors worldwide.
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