The name Château Haut-Brion stands for wine from one of the noblest vineyards in the world. It is wineries like this one to which the Bordeaux region of France owes its reputation.
Château Haut-Brion is the most famous of the Graves estates and is located in the Pessac-léognan appellation of origin, in the commune of Pessac in the Bordeaux region.
The Chateau Haut Brion estate offers wines from 1989 up to and including 2020, which are distributed internationally through selected distributors.
Château Haut Brion Red Wines
The Chateau Haut Brion Rouge, the estate’s classic red wine, is a voluminous, powerful and tannic cuvée. The wine is composed of the grapes Merlot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The blend ratio varies depending on the vintage. The red wines are dark red in colour, full-bodied, characterised by flavours such as myriad facets of dark berries, like blackcurrant, blackberry and cherry pits, rounded off with hints of fine mocha and dark chocolate. The Chateau Haut Brion Rouge is a wine for demanding connoisseurs of powerful red wines.
The second red wine line of the winery is “Le Clarence de Haut-Brion”, a cuvée that has been produced since 2007. Le Clarence is considered the little brother of the main red line, the previously mentioned classic Chateau Haut Brion red wine.
Château Haut Brion White Wines
The white wine is similar. Here too we have the main line of the house, the Chateau Haut Brion Blanc.
The Haut Brion Blanc is a particularly noble, fruity, round white wine, in which the composition of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc is mixed in a very individual ratio every year. In the 2011 vintage, for example, the Sémillon grape clearly predominated, with 58%, while in the 2002 vintage Sémillon only accounted for 22% compared to 78% of Sauvignon Blanc. It is therefore worth knowing and testing the different vintages.
The second white wine line of the winery is “La Clarté de Haut-Brion”, a cuvée also produced from Sauvignon and Sémillon, of clear yellow colour with light green reflections. The taste is fruity, with a fine sweetness, yet round and buttery on the palate.
Château Haut Brion Vintage Wine – Old Vintages
Chateau Haut Brion 1er Grand Cru Classe Pessac
Vintage wines from Chateau Haut-Brion are still available from special retailers. These old Chateau Haut Brion vintages are among the most valuable wines in the world. The oldest available, to my knowledge, is the red 1926 Chateau Haut Brion 1er Grand Cru Classe Pessac.
The 1962 vintage of this wine is also available, as well as the white wine from the same year – Chateau Haut Brion 1962 1er Grand Cru Classe Pessac Blanc. The Chateau Haut Brion 1er Grand Cru Classe Pessac is also available from other vintages, such as 1926, 1947, 1962, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1976 or 1988.
Château La Mission Haut Brion
The Chateau “La Mission” Haut Brion 1er Grand Cru Classe Pessac is still on the market from 1964 and 1995. Another outstanding vintage from the estate is the Chateau Larrivet Haut Brion 1982 Graves.
For wine connoisseurs and lovers, these vintages are the crowning glory of their collection. They are presented in a wooden box, wrapped in silk, as befits the royal class of French wine.
History & Heritage
The Soil & The Environment
The quintessence of an exceptional terroir
The Château Haut-Brion vineyard is located in the commune of Pessac, a few kilometres south-west of Bordeaux. It is part of the Pessac-Léognan appellation, in the north of the Graves wine region of Bordeaux.
Château Haut-Brion and its unique gravel
The estate faces Château La Mission Haut-Brion and shares with it this vast terrace of beautiful gravel called Haut-Brion on old maps and charts.
These gravels, which contribute to the viticultural value of the Château Haut-Brion soil, are small pebbles made up of different varieties of quartz. The gravelly soils rest on a unique subsoil of clay, sand, limestone and falun (shell limestone) established at the end of the Tertiary era, then during the Quaternary period throughout the ice ages.
The gravel deposits vary in thickness from twenty centimetres to more than three metres and form hilltops with excellent exposure and slopes that ensure natural drainage reinforced by a large network of small watercourses, such as the Peugue or the Serpent, tributaries of the Garonne.
The vines of Haut-Brion benefit from a particular climate: the summers are hot and dry, the autumns are mild. The vines are 20 to 30 metres above sea level and escape the fog of the lower Garonne valley and the sometimes heavy rainfall of the Gironde moors.
Château Haut-Brion Le Clarence
The second wine of Château Haut-Brion, named as such to honour Clarence Dillon, who bought the Château in 1935, the Clarence de Haut-Brion has all the characteristics of the Grand Vin in a more accessible approach that allows the full extent of its unique personality to be appreciated more quickly.
The unique expression of Château Haut Brion can also be discovered in white. From a rare and confidential production, Château Haut-Brion white is the most sought-after dry wine in Bordeaux. A blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, Château Haut-Brion white captures the unique expression of aromatic fullness of a sweet wine in a dry white wine with an atypical concentration, fullness and length that define its unique style.
Prince Robert of Luxembourg, in succession to Joan Dillon, demonstrates a fine sense for the château, the wines and the market, and brings precisely the dignified elegance that is characteristic of Haut-Brion wines.
Big City Climate For The Oldest Wine Estate in Bordeaux
The fabulous Château Haut-Brion is located in Pessac-Léognan near Bordeaux. Due to the constant growth of the urban area, the world-famous Premier Cru winery is enclosed by the big city. This condition is responsible for the individual microclimate, which produces the unmistakable characters of the wines.
The winery has 51 hectares of vineyards, of which 48 hectares are planted with red grape varieties and only 3 hectares with white grape varieties. In terms of quality, however, red and white are in no way inferior. The typical Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc make up the reds, while Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc are cultivated as white varieties.
The terroir of Château Haut-Brion, which consists of Günz gravel, among other things, is referred to as gemstones. These are small stones formed from different types of quartz and make the terroir so valuable. This hilltop of Günz gravel rises 12 to 15 metres above neighbouring watercourses here at Pessac-Léognan.
The subsoil consists of a loamy-sandy layer. Both together give the legendary wines of the world-famous Château the character that makes them so unique. The team at Château Haut-Brion produces four excellent wines from the highest quality grapes. Among them is the first wine Château Haut-Brion 1er Grand Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan, the oldest red wine produced by the Premier Cru winery.
Due to the fact that the winery is probably the oldest in Bordeaux, the red wine is also dubbed the first luxury brand in the world. The white wine Château Haut-Brion Blanc, which was cultivated later, is also one of the best white wines of the region and thus highly sought after.
The mother of the Premiers Crus
The history of Château Haut-Brion begins in 1533, when Jean de Pontac acquired the noble house of Haut-Brion. Through the marriage of Jean de Pontac to Jeanne de Bellon, Jean de Pontac received part of the land of Haut-Brion as a dowry. He constantly strove to enlarge and improve the property, so that in 1549 he began the construction of the château.
He quickly realised that the soils around the château were optimal for growing grapes. Jean de Pontac’s three marriages produced a total of 15 children. His family, a veritable dynasty, became more and more important locally. After he died at the proud age of 101, two of his descendants took over the inheritance. In 1649, Arnaud III de Pontac inherited the estate, laying the foundation for its international reputation.
Under his management, the château expanded with the construction of a new wing and the wine was even served at the royal table. The first “wine brand” of Bordeaux was created. He also created a new style of wine, which is the basis of all today’s red Grands Crus and benefits from a long ageing.
It was not until the death of François-Delphin Daulède de Lestonnac in 1748 that Château Haut-Brion came into the possession of the female lineage of the family, represented by his sister Catherine Daulède de Lestonnac. Her grandson Joseph de Fumel in turn took over the management of the château after his father’s death.
In the course of the 18th century, techniques were perfected at Château Haut-Brion: Racking was done systematically in the cellar and racking of the wine in barrels was carried out twice a year.
The beneficial effect of tannin during ageing led the cellar master to keep the wines in barrels for longer. The winery was also one of the first to bottle the wine. After the fall of the Girondist deputies, Bordeaux reached the Reign of Terror in 1793.
As a result, Joseph des Fumel was arrested and finally executed in 1794. The next few years were marked by an internal inheritance dispute, which came to an end with the acquisition of the estate in 1801 by Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord.
A new Heyday for Château Haut-Brion
After numerous changes of ownership and a stroke of luck for Joseph Eugène Larrieu, who later bought the estate at auction and set his sights on quality improvement and expansion, Château Haut-Brion received the “Premiers Crus Classés” award for red wine in 1855.
For the owners, this award was an incentive to continue to improve, to always reach for the extraordinary. In 1935, the American Clarence Dillon finally acquired the estate.
His descendant Joan Dillon represented the top of the world-famous Château from 1975 to 2008 and did outstanding work, which without question contributed to the current world fame of Château Haut-Brion.
She had the orangery rebuilt, enlarged the estate by buying Château La Mission Haut-Brion, built a fermentation cellar with cutting-edge technologies, a sophisticated oenology laboratory, a cooperage and a storage cellar. All this contributed to the top position of the Grand Cru wines and the winery throughout the world. Their son Prince Robert of Luxembourg is the current head of the world-renowned Bordeaux estate and represents the next generation.
For many centuries, Château Haut-Brion’s top red wines have been among the best in France, now among the most expensive and award-winning wines in the world.
The classic cuvée of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, some of which are matured for up to 24 months in new barriques, inspire with breathtaking power, at the same time with subtle complexity and enchanting harmony.
Both white wine and red wine have already been awarded 100 points by international critics such as Robert Parker and James Suckling. Legendary vintages of the 1er Grand Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan are among the best and most famous top wines in the world.
The unmistakable style of the house and the terroir of the region are usually retained by these wines of the century with their incomparable longevity for decades to come.
Prince Robert of Luxembourg, his Family and Wine
The marriage of Joan Dillon and Charles of Luxembourg in 1967 brought a title of nobility to Château Haut-Brion. A woman of good taste combined with a passion for decoration, she completely renovated the interior of Château Haut-Brion. The marriage also produced two children: Prince Robert of Luxembourg and Princess Charlotte.
Prince Robert of Luxembourg has been able to identify with Château Haut-Brion since his early childhood. With his sister Charlotte, Robert grew up trilingual and multicultural at Haut-Brion. He spent his youth in England and France, which gave him flexibility at an early age.
Like his grandmother Clarence Dillon, he loved art, which he also studied. He later discovered and shared a passion for writing with his wife and toyed with the idea of writing screenplays for Hollywood. However, he devoted himself to the management of the family estate in keeping with the family spirit.
Robert von Luxemburg had been a member of the board since he was eighteen, which is why he contributed to the development of Château Haut-Brion at a very early age. Since the art lover with American roots cared a lot about Europe, he participated more and more in the management from 1993 onwards and became a full-time member of the management team from 1997 onwards.
Later, in 2002, he was even appointed General Director. A revolutionary step was probably the creation of the Clarence Dillon Wines trading house and the first “super-premium” brand of Bordeaux wine Clarendelle 2005, which the Prince launched. From 2008, Robert of Luxembourg succeeded his mother as Chairman of Domaine Clarence Dillon SAS.
Robert of Luxembourg has thus shown loyalty to Château Haut-Brion since childhood and will certainly make a great deal of difference to the Premiers Crus winery in the future.
With Refinement and Restraint
Prince Robert of Luxembourg himself appears very reserved and secretive, just like the wine that Château Haut-Brion produces. The prince is also said to be a perfectionist, which is evident in his excellent wines.
The managing director of the world-famous winery characterises his wines with an endless refinement, mineral complexity and an unfathomable finesse, which of course justifies the price of the wines. Moreover, a wind of change blows at Château Haut-Brion, because every year there are changes, be it in the young team or the weather conditions.
But Prince Robert of Luxembourg demonstrates flexibility, which he has also proven throughout his life. The great-grandson of Clarence Dillon has played in the sandbox of Château Haut-Brion since his birth and was therefore very attached to his parents’ winery, but he himself could never imagine taking over the winery one day. His family had been active in the world of finance for generations.
Wine was only a “side show”, so to speak. Prince Robert rather wanted to go to the USA or New Zealand to farm. But he was also aware that he was the only one of his generation who wanted to continue Haut-Brion later on. In order to preserve the family tradition, he thus decided to support and develop Haut-Brion and to run it since 2008.
Prince Robert of Luxembourg has two sons and a daughter. It can thus be assumed that the world-famous Château Haut-Brion will be managed by the Dillon family at least in the next generation.
The outstanding top wines of the world-famous Château Haut-Brion convince with a mineral complexity, endless refinement and a power and longevity that they are unparalleled even among the best in the world.