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Château Haut-Brion

The famous winery is located in the municipality of Pessac (suburb of Bordeaux) in the area Pessac-Léognan in Graves (Bordeaux). The origin goes back to Arnaud I. Pontac, who made fortune from 1496 as an exporter of wine and vines from Bordeaux. His son Jean de Pontac (1488-1589) built the north wing of the Château in 1550. In 1525 he married Jeanne de Bellon, who brought a part of the Haut-Brion estate into the marriage as a dowry. His only sister Marie married an Arnaud de Lestonnac, who was the neighbor in 1540 Château La Mission Haut-Brion founded. Fifteen children were born from the three marriages of Jean Pontac (the last one he entered at 76). For the next two generations of Pontac, there is nothing worth mentioning about viticulture. By Arnaud III. de Pontac (1599-1682), the Haut-Brion wines also became known in England. He recognized the importance of the English market and is considered the founder of Château wines because he was the first in Bordeaux to market a wine under the name of the winery as "Haut-Brion".

Château Haut-Brion
By BillBl - originally posted to Flickr as Chateau Haut-Brion , CC BY 2.0 , Link

Another marketing pioneering act was that he sold the second qualities from his other possessions under the family name "Pontac", so to speak, that was the birth of today in many Châteaux usual second wine, He also introduces new winemaking techniques. It can be assumed that it is with much longer Maceration times worked, because the Haut Brion wines were then described as much darker than other Bordeaux wines. He also introduced the expansion in new oak barrels. The famous Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) described the wine in 1663 in his diary: "I have just tried a French wine called Ho-Bryan (sic), which has the best and most extraordinary taste that I have ever encountered". He was also very popular at the English court, in the cellar records of Charles II (1630-1685) "169 bottles of Hobriono" served to the royal guests are mentioned.

Arnaud Pontac sent his son François Auguste Pontac (1636-1694) to London in 1666, who commissioned the later famous tavern "Pontack's Head" behind the Old Bailey (criminal court) on his behalf. The target audience was the affluent, aristocratic society, who could enjoy the equally fine wines of the Château Haut-Brion with their exquisite dishes. The restaurant, which was exceptional at the time, was a resounding success and has been in operation for over 100 years. After François-Auguste's death, his sister Thérèse inherited two thirds of the estate. The remaining third was owned by Louis-Arnaud Lecomte, François-Auguste's nephew. Thérèse also inherited that Château de Pez in Saint-Estèphe. In 1654 she married Jean-Denis d'Aulède de Lestonnac, the owner of Chateau Margaux was.

Her son Marquis François-Delphin d'Aulède de Lestonnac (+1746) managed Margaux and Haut-Brion at the same time. Heiress was his sister Catherine d'Aulède de Lestonnac, widow of Count François-Joseph de Fumel since 1688. Her grandnephew Joseph de Fumel (1720-1794) carried out extensive embellishment work on the château and added an orangery, a company building and a large park. The property was expropriated in the turmoil of the French Revolution and in 1794 Joseph de Fumel lost his head under the guillotine in addition to his property "due to international activities". In 1801 the estate was owned by statesman Charles Maurice Talleyrand (1754-1838) acquired the Foreign Minister Napoleon (1769-1821). He also used the prestigious property for diplomatic purposes, but sold it again after three years. In the period from 1804 to 1836 it belonged to a banker and later to a wine merchant. Finally, in 1836, the Parisian banker Joseph-Eugène Larrieu (1777-1856) owned a public sale.

The new owner played an important role in the development because he enlarged and consolidated the winery. In 1841 he acquired the third that had been separated in the course of the inheritance in 1694. Above all, he is credited with the fact that the Bordeaux Classification was classified as a "Premier Cru" in 1855. It then remained in the possession of the Larrieu family until 1923, then belonged to a bank and then to André Gibert, until it was finally bought in 1935 by the US investment banker Clarence Dillon (1882-1979) because he bought this wine so guessed. His son Clarence Douglas Dillon (1909-2003) later acquired other wineries. From 1979 the family empire Domaine Clarence Dillon run by his daughter Joan Dillon, a Duchesse de Mouchy. Her successor has been her son Prince Robert of Luxembourg since 2001. The winery is professionally managed by the Delmas family, currently in the third generation by Jean-Philippe Delmas.

In the 1960s, Château Haut-Brion was the first winery in Bordeaux to use stainless steel fermentation tanks. The selection and propagation of the best vines is extremely important. The focus is on diversity, there are about 400 different clones in the vine stock. The vineyards cover a total of 46 hectares, the vines are 40 years old on average. The floor consists of a nine meter deep gravel bottom, which gives the wine its distinctive character. The vast majority is 43 hectares of red wine Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Merlot (37%) and Cabernet Franc (18%) planted. The red wine is fermented quickly and relatively warmly in stainless steel in the style of the house. It is then aged in 100% new barriques for 18 to 24 months. The extremely long-lived wine can be stored for many decades. The English wine author Hugh Johnson describes the 1899 Impérial with: "The most fascinating Bordeaux that I ever got on my tongue" . The bottle shape of the house is also unmistakable; compared to a normal one Bordeaux bottle the bottles are conical (slightly thicker towards the top).

The exceptional special status of the Château Haut-Brion is shown by the fact that it is the only one of the 61 chateaux classified in 1855 that is not in the range Médoc lies. With the classification for the area in 1959 Graves the red wine is also included in the list on the “Grands Crus List”. There is a very special document about five bottles of the legendary vintage 1811 (look there). outstanding vintages the more recent times are 1971, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000. These are among the most expensive wines in the world,

The 1970 vintage was with the legendary Paris Wine Tasting 1976 there. The distinctive Haut-Brion style comes with “optimal elegance and harmony with excellent fruity and earthy Flavors ”. Despite the longevity, the wine is ready for enjoyment relatively early. After a few years, the tannins disappear faster than other Bordeaux wines and a creamy note with tones of plums, currants and tobacco, The second wine is called "Bahans Château Haut-Brion". Three hectares are with the white wine varieties Sémillon (two thirds) and Sauvignon Blanc planted. The long-lived white wine also matures in 100% new barriques.

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