James Suckling 97-98
A very structured young Haut-Brion with blackberry, blackcurrant, black-olive and mushroom character. Medium to full-bodied with a driving balance of firm and ripe tannins and gorgeous fruit. 50.3% merlot, 38% cabernet sauvignon and 11.7% cabernet franc.
Robert Parker 96-98
A candidate for the title of wine of the vintage, the 2021 Haut-Brion unwinds in the glass with aromas of rich red and black fruit mingled with notions of cigar wrapper, licorice, black truffles, loamy soil and burning embers. Full-bodied, deep and concentrated, it’s elegant and multidimensional, with superb depth at the core, lively acids and ultra-refined tannins. Combining the classical proportions of the vintages of two decades ago with the viticultural and winemaking of today, it’s a timeless classic in the making, but it’s difficult to find an obvious analogy with an older vintage. When pressed, Jean-Philippe Delmas suggests a superior version of the 2014 vintage, and to me, a more concentrated, serious version of the 2012 vintage also comes to mind. What is clear, however, is that this is one of the real high points of 2021. The blend is 50% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Cabernet Franc, and it attained 13.8% alcohol—a percentage point or so lower than in 2020 or 2019.
Jeb Dunnuck 95-97
As with the Clarence, the 2021 Château Haut-Brion is a darker, richer, more powerful wine. Currants, smoked black cherries, graphite, chocolate, and tobacco notes all define the nose, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with a straight, focused, beautifully precise mouthfeel, gorgeous yet substantial tannins, and a great finish. It’s going to hit maturity in 7-8 years and have 30 years of longevity or more. The 2021 is mostly Merlot, checking in as 50.3% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11.7% Cabernet Franc, hitting 13.8% alcohol and resting in 73% new French oak.
The 2021 Haut-Brion has a more extravagant, charming bouquet compared directly with the La Mission at the moment, offering copious blackberry, black truffle, undergrowth and menthol scents. The palate is very well balanced, harmonious and poised, with fine-grained tannins and an almost pixelated finish. This Haut-Brion seems to have reveled in the cooler growing season, and at 13.8% alcohol, there is almost a degree less than recent vintages. Jean-Philippe Delmas has fashioned a contender for wine of the vintage.
Anticipated maturity: 2030-2065
Jane Anson 95
A classical balance, reflecting a vintage that is fairly strict in its aromatic expression, exceptionally successful on this spot. Soft cassis bud, rose petal and rose stem, subdued power that gently builds over the palate. Unquestionably a different architecture to Haut-Brion than over the past few years, and there is a sculpted feel to the cassis and bilberry fruits, still with concentration and weight through the palate, expertly constructed. Feels like a window to the past, and is delicious. Harvest September 13 to October 8, with no Petit Verdot used this year. 73% new oak.
Anticipated maturity: 2028-2044
The Wine Independent 93-95
The 2021 Haut-Brion is a blend of 50% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 12% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet-purple colored, it needs a lot of swirling and convincing to coax out notions of redcurrant jelly, raspberry coulis, blackcurrant pastilles, and graphite, plus suggestions of cloves, crushed rocks, and underbrush. Medium-bodied, the palate is a little like sucking on stones at this stage, chock full of minerals with emerging black and red fruits, framed by ripe, grainy tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long and earthy. A very different style and expression of Haut-Brion than in recent years, and yet this is equally evocative and simply gorgeous.
Anticipated maturity: 2027-2052