When Jean de Pontac married Jeanne de Bellon in 1525, she brought the first portion of the Bordeaux wine property called Haut-Brion as a dowry. Pontac bought the title to the domain of Haut-Brion in 1553 and continued to expand and improve the property. Pontac died at the age of 101, having married twice more, siring 15 children and ensuring a legacy for generations to come. In 1801,Haut-Brion was sold to Talleyrand, Prince of Benevento making him the first “non-family” to own Chateau Haut-Brion. In 1935, Clarence Dillon, an American financier bought the Château. Today, Dillon’s granddaughter, Joan Dillon is head of the Chateau.
The first official review of Chateau Haut-Brion wine and any wine ever came from Samuel Pepys on April 10th, 1663. He wrote, “There I drank a sort of French wine called Ho-Bryan that hath a good and most particular taste I never met with.” An interesting wine review!
Chateau Haut-Brion was one of the first Bordeaux châteaux to begin using stainless steel vats for vinification in 1961. Double skinned, stainless steel vats were introduced at the Chateau in 1991. The wine is aged in up to 100% new French oak for about 24 months. The blending takes place just after fermentation is finished and prior to the oak barrel aging process begins.
The best vintages for the red wine of Château Haut-Brion are: 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2000, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1990, 1989, 1985, 1982, 1961, 1959, 1955, 1953, 1950, 1949, 1948, 1947, 1945, 1934, 1929, 1928, 1926 and 1921.
So, without further ado, here is my review of the 1961 Chateau Haut-Brion.
I must confess that the Haut-Brion and 1975 Chateau Figeac were not stored in optimum conditions for the past thirty-one years and that is the only thing that these two Bordeaux have in common. Unfortunately, the Chateau Figeac when opened was the color of rust and undrinkable. However, the Haut-Brion has stood the test of time and less than favorable storage conditions. One should expect no less from a Premier Cru Classé First Growth!