2018 Chateau Haut-Brion

Year: 2018
Appellation: Pessac-Leognan
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 97-99+
Vinous Media: 93-96
James Suckling: 98-99
Jeb Dunnuck: 97-99--Wine Enthusiast: 96-98--Jeff Leve: 98-100
Red Wine


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"The 2018 Haut-Brion is a blend of 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11.9% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 6 to October 2. Deep purple-black in color, it is much more closed than the La Mission. It holds back for the first few minutes, reticent to reveal what slowly uncoils to give wave after wave of exotic spices—cardamom, cassis, star anise and fenugreek—over an opulent core of red roses, Black Forest cake, warm cassis and black raspberries with nuances of cigar box, crushed rocks, truffles, tilled black soil, iron ore and smoked meats. The full-bodied palate is truly profound, with restrained black fruit and spice layers slowly offering mineral sparks and savory suggestions within a rock-solid frame of firm, super fine-grained tannins and beautiful freshness, finishing with epic length and depth. This will take longer to come around than the La Mission, but it will be well worth the wait.

Domaine Clarence Dillon pretty much nailed it across the board in 2018, from the first growth(s) in Pessac to the Saint-Émilion wines; to the more humbly priced, larger volume offerings; and even the whites, which were also tricky considering the heat. All the wines are ripe and seductive, true to what 2018 wanted to give as a vintage, and yet they possess bags of bright fruit, energy and freshness. “The first key to success this vintage was to start the first mildew treatment in the vineyards a little bit earlier than usual,” Deputy Managing Director Jean-Philippe Delmas of Domaine Clarence Dillon informed me. “If you did that, you were protected. If you didn’t, you had to constantly run after the disease. The second challenge was the date of the harvest—the date was finally quite late. The best solution was to wait to get ripeness but to pick before there was heaviness or the wines got too fat.”

I asked Delmas which he loved more this year, Cabernet or Merlot? “I loved everything,” he promptly replied. “And on the Right Bank, the Cabernet Franc was wonderful this year, which isn’t always the case. I would say Right Bank and Left Bank are the same for quality.”

Bravo team!" (WA)

"The 2018 Haut-Brion is a regal wine. Creamy, soft and inviting, the 2018 is one of the more open-knit young Haut-Brions I can remember tasting. Cedar, tobacco, smoke, licorice, grilled herbs, leather and menthol are nicely layered in the glass. In 2018, Haut-Brion is almost shockingly elegant at this very early stage. There is plenty of tannin, but it is totally woven into the wine's fabric. In 2018, the blend is 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11.9% Cabernet Franc." (VM)

"The length and texture to this wine is so very impressive. It’s not so much the sheer power that is impressive here, rather the form, tension and exquisite form that the abundant, fine-grained tannins provide. It lasts for minutes on the palate. A classic beauty in the making." (JS)

"The grand vin 2018 Haut-Brion (49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Cabernet Franc) is as deeply colored as its stablemate but has a darker, smoky bouquet of blackcurrants, roasted herbs, tobacco, and gravelly earth. Silky, polished, and ethereally textured on the palate, with beautiful tannins as well as mid-palate density, it's one of the most regal, classic wines in the vintage." (JD)

"96–98. Barrel Sample. This wine has an immense structure that's powered by tannins, yet backed by a dry core and bright acidity. The black currant flavor is very fine and concentrated while also having a juicy freshness that marks the vintage. It has all the structure that should be expected from this estate." (WE)

"It's rare to find the combination of elegance and power that you'll find in this year's Haut Brion. It's incredibly difficult to produce a wine with this much volume, harmony, balance, complexity and refinement. Once the wine hits your palate, it's impossible not to take another sip just to make sure it wasn't just a dream. The purity in the fruit, the silk in the tannins, the seemingly endless finish paired with the ability to age for decades is all here in spades. A blend of 56% Merlot, 37.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.5% Cabernet Franc with the harvest taking place September 19-October 13. The wine reached 14.6% alcohol with a pH of 3.8 and 50.6% of the harvest was placed into the Grand Vin." (JL)