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The second wine of Haut-Brion is now called Le Clarence de Haut-Brion, and the 2010 is among the finest I have tasted there. It is a broad, powerful and more muscular wine than its cross-street rival, La Chapelle de la Mission, but all the same, it is wonderfully fresh and precise, with notes of blueberry and boysenberry as well as hints of smoke and wet stones. Endowed with gorgeous fruit, texture, purity and elegance, this relatively dense second wine demonstrates how draconian the selection process has become for the top estates in Bordeaux in recent years. The blend of this wine is 52% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest mostly Cabernet Franc with just a touch of Petit Verdot. I would expect it to last at least 20 years, which is remarkable.
Kudos to the team at Haut-Brion and to the proprietors, the Dillon family, who are now represented admirably and meticulously by Prince Robert of Luxembourg. He has made some changes, and all of them seem to have resulted in dramatic improvements to what was already an astonishing group of wines.
Probably the greatest second wine made at this estate since the 1989 Bahans-Haut-Brion, this blend of 52% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot reveals elegant minerality along with lots of sweet black cherry and raspberry fruit intermixed with hints of damp earth and forest floor. Medium to full-bodied and lush, it should drink beautifully for 10-15 years.
Tasted at Chateau Haut-Brion. I must say that comparing this against the La Chapelle, I find the latter more expressive at the moment, the Le Clarence perhaps riper and a tad more generous, yet without quite the same degree of clarity. The palate is medium-bodied with a ripe, cedar and tobacco infused entry. There is more weight and fruit intensity than the La Chapelle and builds nicely towards an iodine, dark plum and slightly saline finish. I was perhaps expecting a little more after its showing in barrel. Tasted November 2012.
Tasted at Haut Brion. The Clarence de Haut-Brion 2009 has a very different nose compared to the La Chapelle, much more reticent at first, a "doleful" bouquet that takes time to come out of its shell. Blackberry, fresh black olives and a touch of seaweed. The palate is medium-bodied with very good fruit concentration, the tannins a little drier than La Chapelle, perhaps a little coarser at this early juncture. At the moment I prefer the tension displayed by the La Chapelle. This is much more broody and introverted at the moment. Tasted September 2011.
A blend of 52% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, this has a very different nose to the La Chapelle, the Cabernet very potent here, crushed stones with a hint of graphite. This has more backbone that the La Chapelle, very fine tannins with good acidity, dense blackberry, cassis and a touch of black plum, strict and linear towards the finish which is more masculine than the La Chapelle. Do not overlook this second label. Tasted March 2011.
This is a fresh and lively young wine. The second wine of Haut-Brion has a lot of linear richness. I really like the texture of this with super polished tannins and vibrant acidity
52% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Very bright blueish purple. Lighter nose than Chapelle La Mission but very refined and aromatic. Drawing-room refinement, really quite spindly. All frame and not much flesh at the moment. Very, very dry on the finish. There is even a hint of green. Will need quite a time to broaden out
The second wine of Chateau Haut Brion is assembled from the vats that don't suit the final blend of Haut Brion itself. From 2007 onwards it has been known as Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (instead of Bahans Haut Brion), in tribute to Clarence Dillon who purchased Haut Brion in 1934. It is now also bottled in the iconic and distinctive Haut Brion bottle. This year it is 52% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Deep coloured with a cigar box nose. Great depth of tarry fruit. Intense and long. A fabulous wine of top quality in it's own right which has benefitted from the addition of 20% of the crop (Merlot) being relegated to a third wine.
The nose is quite firm and although there is a lot of fruit in evidence it is held back by tannic structure. The palate has lots of complexity first red fruits and then firmer black with the fleshiness of the black fruits balanced by freshness and structure. The layers of flavour linger on the finish.