WA 99: The 2020 Haut-Brion is more aromatically demonstrative than La Mission Haut-Brion, bursting with aromas of blackberries and raspberries mingled with licorice, cigar wrapper, pencil shavings and nicely integrated new oak. Full-bodied, ample and fleshy, it's rich and layered, with an enveloping core of fruit that's girdled by plenty of sweet, powdery tannin. Despite checking in at a similarly lofty alcoholic degree to the 2019, its more granular tannic profile tempers the vintage's sweetness of fruit and lends the wine a more classically proportioned, and more classically structured, profile.
JS 98: Aromas of blackberry, licorice, tile, stone and mocha. Tobacco and cigar, too. They follow through to a full body with ultra-fine tannins that go on and on. Sophisticated ripe fruit in the center palate with a brightness. Tangerines in the finish. Very supple and savory at the end, in a classy way. Reminds me of the 1998. Already so attractive, but it will reward you much more after 2028.
WA 97: A blend of 53% Merlot, 6.3% Cabernet Franc and 40.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Haut-Brion sashays gracefully out of the glass with fragrant notions of black raspberries, kirsch, dark chocolate, star anise and candied violets with a core of warm red and black currants and a touch of pencil lead. Medium to full-bodied, the palate bursts with red and black fruit layers, superbly supported by firm, ripe, finely grained tannins and fantastic freshness, finishing very long and mineral laced.
JS 98: This is extremely aromatic and perfumed with crushed-berry, flower, currant and orange-peel character. Full-bodied, very tight and focused with fabulous depth and density that brings you down through the wine. Deep and serious. Very classic wine that reminds me of top Haut-Brions of the mid-1980s. Try after 2025.
WA 96: The 2014 Haut Brion is a blend of 50% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 39% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 11 September and 10 October, cropped at 42.9 hectoliters per hectare and raised in 70% new oak. As I observed when I made the comparison in barrel, the Haut Brion exudes more red fruit than La Mission Haut Brion, adorned with wild strawberry, bilberry, tobacco and again, just that hint of menthol in the background. The palate is very fresh and taut on the entry. The acidity is very nicely pitched and there is a touch of marmalade and blood orange that is tangible at the back of the mouth. There is real frisson to this Haut Brion, not quite as seductive and as smooth as its sibling over the road, but very persistent in the mouth. I noticed that over 15 to 20 minutes that the Haut Brion just gained more and more complexity, putting a small distance between itself and La Mission, as if determined to mock my opinion in barrel that La Mission would have the upper hand! Be my guest. Haut Brion has an inch, just an inch ahead of its "rival" sibling.
JS 97: Beautifully perfumed with rose petals, violets and currant bush. Full body, very silky tannins and bright acidity. Tannins are super fine-grained. Goes on for minutes. Racy and refined. Persistent. Drink in 2025.
WA 94: Tasted blind as a vintage comparison at the Valandraud vertical, the 2011 Haut Brion has always been an excellent Pessac-Léognan, though recent encounters suggest it does not have the potential of the 2012. It has a gentle and caressing bouquet full of copious dark cherry and raspberry fruit, a touch of saddle leather and a seam of dark chocolate emanating from the oak regime, which needs more time to integrate (though it is not an Haut-Brion that is going to demand years and years in bottle). The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin and feels gentle in the mouth. It is very well balanced, although perhaps the oak comes through too strongly on the finish, when frankly there is no need. Nevertheless, this is a classic Pessac-Léognan - maybe "mild mannered" and a little conservative compared to more ambitious recent vintages, yet there is no doubting its class and pedigree. Tasted December 2016.
JS 91-92: Lovely second wine of Haut Brion with tobacco, chocolate and dark fruits. Earth too. Full body with fine tannins and pretty finish. Very balanced. Nicely done.