Haut-Brion : if you need an example of a first class report about a large vertical tasting, this is the place.

A REPORT BY KEVIN SHIN (GJE) WITH SOME VINTAGES OF DOM PERIGNON

HAUT BRION VERTICAL -1998 TO 2009 – The Grill Room at the Rosewood DC (2/8/2018)

I recently acquired a vertical of Haut Brion from 1998 to 2009, twelve bottles in total. We organized a cost share dinner for eight. My original plan was to start with an eight-vintage vertical of Dom Perignon. Luckily a couple of the guys had more sense than I did and we ended up with only four bottles.

Other than the 02, which was slightly corked, all showed well. It was very educational and fascinating to drink them side by side. Other than the 02 and 03, all of the wines showed exceptional balance and finesse which Haut Brion is known for. The 00 and 09 were perfect for me. The 05 was a bit tight but there is no doubt that it will be a perfect wine in another decade or two. The 98 was also exceptional. I was pleasantly surprised by the exceptional quality of the 99, 01, 06 and 08.image002

Dom Perignon Vertical
The 02 and the 04 Rose are drinking incredibly well. The 06 has gained weight and evolving similar to the 02. The 09 seems elegant and fresh, hopefully it will gain weight in another few years.

  • 2002 Dom Perignon Champagne– France, Champagne
    Lucky to drink this again only two weeks apart. Absolutely brilliant showing consistent with the last bottle. Perfectly mature yet youthful and vibrant nose displaying candied lemon, baked apple, granny smith, white flower, ginger and crushed rock. Excellent concentration, beautifully layered decadent yellow fruit, bright acidity, strong mineral presence and a long sweet yellow fruit driven finish. Once again, there is a hint of bitterness that still needs to be resolved. The 02 Dom has reached its youthful peak. Excellent showing. (97 pts.)
  • 2006 Dom Perignon Champagne– France, Champagne
    This is starting to show beautifully, similar to the 02 in decadent fruit expression and concentration. For my palate, the 06 shows more white fruit where the 02 is dominated by decadent yellow fruit. Expressive nose displaying pear, apple, lemonade, honey, acacia flower and mineral. Excellent concentration, rich and ripe, abundant fine mousse, bright acidity, strong mineral presence and a long ripe white fruit and mineral driven finish. It has gained weight in the past two years. Clearly more youthful than the 02 but following the same aging curve. Excellent showing. (95 pts.)
  • 2009 Dom Perignon Champagne– France, Champagne
    Very pretty and elegant at the moment. Delicious clean nose displaying lemon, pear, granny smith and mineral. Medium concentration, sweet white fruit driven palate impression, generous amount of very fine mousse, medium acidity, strong mineral presence and a clean and delicate finish. The 06 seemed lighter two years ago so I am hoping that this will also gain weight. For now, more delicate compared to the older brethren. Drinking nicely in a very youthful way. (93 pts.)
  • 2004 Dom Perignon Champagne Rosé– France, Champagne
    Gorgeous refine Burgundian nose displaying raspberry soda, cherry, a hint of smoke, sweet spices, rose, coffee, brioche and mineral. Beautifully balanced palate, silky and polished, incredibly fine mousse, delicious red fruit driven palate impression, perfect amount of acidity and mineral, and a long subtle red fruit driven finish with a hint of cinnamon and limestone at the end. This is drinking beautifully but can improve for another decade or two, becoming like the glorious 85. (96 pts.)

1999, 2001 and 2002
The 99 is a great way to start, the wine to own. The 01 is a classic Haut Brion showing so much finesse.

  • 1999 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    The most opulent wine of the flight. Expressive nose displaying rich black fruits, creme de cassis, blackberry compote, smoke, lavender, dark spices, lead pencil, caramel, a hint of oak/vanilla and earth. Very rich and generous palate, soft and warm black fruit, good acidity, nicely integrated tannins and a long sweet black fruit driven finish with a hint of oak at the end. Very friendly and approachable with nice forward fruit. Slightly new world expression. It has reached its youthful peak but still can improve for another decade or two. A nice way to start and a pleasant surprise for sure. (95 pts.)
  • 2001 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Most polished and classic wine of the flight. Very precise and harmonious nose displaying cassis, red currant jam, licorice, tobacco, lead pencil, lactic and mineral. Beautifully integrated sensual palate, very finely layered subtle red and black fruit, silky and seamless, very fine tannins and a seamless long finish with a hint of lead pencil at the end. This is a beautiful classic claret that nicely expresses the 01 vintage character that we love. It is the sort a wine that you can drink all night. (96 pts.)
  • 2002 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    While opening the bottle, Assaf mentions that the cork might be slightly tainted with TCA. Initially I am not so sure. Excellent concentration with sweet red fruit, though a bit rough and chunky. About 30 minutes later, TCA was more noticeable. Even if it is not TCA tainted, this will be a point or two lower than the 99 and 01 at this stage. Perhaps the most youthful and long lived wine of the flight. NR (flawed)

1998, 2000 and 2003
The 00 is simply perfect. The 98 is an exceptional wine like the 98 Cheval Blanc. The 03 shows the 03 ripeness and clearly suffers from being in the flight.

  • 1998 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Opulence and sensuality coexist here. Expressive nose displaying intense cremes de cassis, fresh blueberry jam, licorice, smoke, incense, fine cabernet floral dust, lactic and earth. Excellent concentration, unctuous yet airy and fluid, layers upon layers of opulent black fruit, silky and polished, and a long seamless finish with a hint of incense at the end. This is more opulent and generous than the 00 but not as precise and detailed. This is more like the 90 HB where the 00 is more like the 89. The wine that both modernist and traditionalist can love. The opulent exotic nose and sensual palate remind me the 98 Cheval Blanc a bit. Drinking perfectly in a very youthful way but can improve for another decade or two. Truly the wine to buy. (98 pts.)
  • 2000 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Extremely youthful yet perfectly harmonious and detailed nose displaying perfectly ripe black fruit, crushed blackberry, crème de cassis, cornucopia of wild flowers, mocha, licorice, ink, lead pencil, dark caramel and mineral. Simply perfect palate, layers upon layers of pure black fruit that subtly resonates, almost weightless and fluid, incredibly precision, perfect amount of acidity, unbelievably fine tannins and a long seamless pure black fruit driven finish with lavender and lead pencil at the end. It is like a great symphony, i.e. all the elements are in perfect harmony yet perfectly expressive. Although, it will take another decade to reach the youthful pick and perhaps a couple more to decades to reach the perfect maturity, the sensual texture and finesse, incredibly concentration and perfect balance make this a perfect wine for me. My educated guess is that this will be a repeat of the 59 and the 89. The opinion is divided evenly as some prefer the opulent and generous showing of the 98 which is a valid point. For my palate, this is simply perfect! (100 pts.)
  • 2003 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Although educational and fascinating, it is unfair to drink this along with the 98 and the 00 as it accentuates the 03 ripeness. Expressive nose displaying extremely ripe red fruit that is similar to the 03 CDP, i.e. raspberry jam and plum with a hint of animal, cherry syrup, leather and earth. Very good concentration, round and warm very ripe red fruit, a bit chunky and coarse, slightly hollow in the middle, medium acidity, nicely integrated tannins and a medium plum and leather driven finish. It clearly expresses the 03 vintage. Perhaps I may have liked it a bit more if served on its own. I wonder if this will develop like the 76 Latour in another twenty years, i.e. losing the extremely ripe red fruit expression and becoming exotic, round and mellow. (93 pts.)

2004 and 2006
The 04 is slightly lean. The 06 shows very well.

  • 2004 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Sandwiched between the 03 which is extremely ripe and the 06 which is opulent, the 04 feels very lean. Medium expressive nose displaying subtle black fruit with a hint of red, crushed blackberry, a hint of red currant, strong lead pencil, oak, spearmint and dark milk chocolate. Medium concentration, subtle fresh black fruit, silky and lean, medium acidity, a hint of medium coarse tannins and a medium subtle black fruit driven finish with strong lead pencil at the end. This seems like a less charming and slightly leaner version of the 01. Nevertheless, it is a classic claret that is enjoyable. I hope this will gain weight and improve in time. (93 pts.)
  • 2006 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Expressive nose displaying opulent black fruit, crème de cassis, blackberry jam, licorice, strong lead pencil, caramel, wet tobacco, incense and earth. Excellent concentration, nicely packed sweet black fruit, rich and unctuous, perfect amount of acidity, a hint of tannins but mostly masked by the opulent fruit and a long black fruit driven finish with a hint of lead pencil at the end. This is a big scale wine that will reach its youthful peek in another ten to twenty years. Despite lacking the precision and finesse of the 00 and 05, the opulent fruit and rich palate make this an excellent Haut Brion with excellent aging potential. (96 pts.)

2007 and 2008
The 07 is similar to the 04. The 08 shows a lot of promise.

  • 2007 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Perhaps the softest expression of the night. Medium expressive nose displaying subtle black and red fruit, crushed blackberry, black cherry, red currant, lead pencil, cedar, tobacco and lead pencil. Medium concentration, subtle blackberry and red currant driven palate impression, silky and polished, slightly lean, medium acidity, nicely integrated tannins and a medium long black fruit and lead pencil driven finish. This is a charming Haut Brion that reminds me of the 04 but a bit softer. Nice claret that still needs another ten years to reach the peak. Hopefully it will gain weight and complexity. (93 pts.)
  • 2008 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Expressive big scale youthful nose displaying intense black fruit, crème de cassis, blackberry concentrate, red currant, ink, licorice, lavender, mocha, sweet spices, strong lead pencil and earth. Excellent concentration, youthful and energetic, nicely layered dense black fruit, silky and polished, bright acidity, strong presence of fine tannins and a long intense black fruit driven finish with noticeable lead pencil and tannins at the end. It is a big scale Haut Brion. Perhaps close to the 06 in style but a bit fresher and energetic and not as deeply toned. Another wine to buy. (96 pts.)

2005 and 2009
Two monumental wines.

  • 2005 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Incredibly youthful nose displaying subtle fresh black fruit with a hint of crème de cassis, ink, licorice, incense, a hint of tobacco, mocha, strong lead pencil and steely mineral. Excellent concentration, nicely layered packed black fruit, silky and polished but a bit coiled, bright acidity, noticeable but sweet tannins and a long coiled black fruit and ink driven finish with a hint of lead pencil at the end. It is similar to the 00 in style but bigger. This is a bit tight and coiled therefore doesn’t have the precision and detail of the 00. The second biggest wine after the 09. Excellent future ahead. (98 pts.)
  • 2009 Château Haut-Brion– France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Unbelievably massive and primary nose displaying opulent dense black fruit, crème de cassis, blackberry jelly, milk chocolate, lavender and a slight hint of lead pencil. Unbelievable concentration, layers upon layers of the opulent black fruit, 10W-40 like thickness yet retains the finesse and precision, perfect amount of acidity, the tannins are mostly masked by incredibly concentrated fruit and the finish that never ends. Clearly the biggest Haut Brion of the night. This could be a 100 year old wine for sure. It is fascinating to drink such a massive yet refined wine. I doubt that this will ever shutdown hard due to massive fruit. As Bob likes to say, “vin de garde”. Despite being incredibly youthful, I am in awe of its massive scale, opulence and concentration. (100 pts.)

The Haut Brion portion of the dinner lasted until 10:30 so we had a plenty of time to enjoy. As usual, we were having so much fun that most of us stayed until midnight.

Bravo to Kevin who is definitively a first class DEGUSTATEUR !!!

4 commentaires sur “Haut-Brion : if you need an example of a first class report about a large vertical tasting, this is the place.

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  1. Great! Lovely dinner. Thanks for sharing. I plan a vertical for Château Margaux – 2000/2015 very soon, and your blog gave me a new idea, combining Champagne vertical and red vertical – to make this next dinner exceptionnal!

    J'aime

  2. Be sure I will publish your results on this blog. Always keep in mind that what you do is what the very best producers want to see : people drinking their wines and not collecting them just for collection !

    J'aime

  3. Dear President,
    Thank you for posting my notes. In terms of collection, when I was young, I collected stamps. I think it is more fund to collect wine!

    J'aime

  4. … especially due to the fact that, in case of trouble, not only it is possible to sell back the wines with some margin, but, more interesting, you find there a reason to drink it as Mister Churchill did found many reasons to drink Champagne !
    Whatever Kevin : you are too modest. I must write here that, at many GJE sessions, you were able, as nobody else at this level, to find the names of the crus. Your memory is simply stunning in this respect.
    In fact you are the real pupil of Robert Parker. Period !

    J'aime

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