Jean-Philippe Delmas explained that the yield is down as they had to eliminate green bunches in the summer and undertook some 'toilettage' in August, the process of cutting berries mid veraison. The yields are still a healthy 45hl/ha, which is much better than many estates have achieved in 2012. Picking commenced on the 17th of September and finished on the 9th of October. Botrytis was beginning to affect the Cabernets, so these had to be picked and not necessarily at optimum ripeness. The Merlots were by contrast very ripe and possessed high potential alcohols. Jean-Philippe said that in terms of analytical comparison, the 2012 is most similar to the 2006, however upon tasting he sees more in common with the 2001 but with more concentration, alcohol and power. Dark fruit liqueur, crushed rocks, and griotte; the palate is ever so pure with velvety raspberry and cherry fruit. This is very regal, cashmere lined claret with a wonderful tannic spine. Produced from 65.5% Merlot, 32.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Haut Brion has arguably been the most consistent First Growth over the past twenty years. The exceptional terroir in the suburbs of Bordeaux has an uncanny knack of producing exquisitel wine whatever the weather throws at it. The estate can be traced back to the 14th century although the current owners can track their lineage back to 1935, when the American financier, Clarence Dillon bought the rather beleaguered estate. Now, Clarence Dillon’s great grandson, Prince Robert of Luxembourg manages the estate, however, much of the success enjoyed by this estate is down to the Delmas family. Three generations have made Haut Brion their life’s work, George (1921-1960), Jean Bernard (1960-2003) and Jean-Philippe (2003-to present).
The vineyards sit upon two gravel croupes and are planted with 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc for the reds and Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for the whites. Aside from the Grand vins, the estate produce a second wine, Clarence de Haut Brion, previously called Bahans de Haut Brion and Clarte de Haut Brion, previously called Plantiers de Haut Brion.
The region has one first growth, Château Haut-Brion, whilst other renowned Chateaux currently doing well are La Mission-Haut-Brion, Pape-Clément, Smith-Haut-Lafitte and Haut-Bailly. Soils are gravely and well-drained and the plantations are similar in proportion to those of the Médoc, consisting mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The region is also well known for its long-lived whites that can be varying blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon oaked or unoaked. The most lauded are Domaine de Chevalier, Haut-Brion, Pape-Clement, De Fieuzal, and Laville-Haut-Brion.