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Tasted at lunch at La Trompette. I have always had a soft spot for the Haut-Brion 1983 as one of the “friendliest” of the First Growths. Though not a top-tier Haut-Brion, the 1983 has developed a fine earthy, leathery bouquet that is similar to the ’86 but without the same vigour or complexity. The palate is very harmonious with a citrus-tinged entry, its lack of depth and length compensated by poise and tension. Sandalwood, cedar and a touch of truffle and smoke towards the finish. Lovely. A point. Drink now-2010. Tasted July 2010.
May 2009 NEAL MARTIN 92 Drink 2009 - 2015 $288-$477
Tasted at the “First Growth” lunch in London. Compared to Latour, Haut-Brion wins hands down. Similar to the bottles back in 2003, it has lots of dried herbs on the nose: thyme and a touch of rosemary. Cedar and pencil-lead, then with time an unusual scent of peppermint emerges (indeed, it has semblances to a Pauillac.) The palate is medium-bodied with good vigour, notes of blackberry and leather coupled with a smooth, harmonious texture. A touch of dryness creeping in towards the finish, perhaps just a little leafy and not great depth, but it does have some lovely smoked meat flavours towards the finish and it lingers quite seductively. It is one of those wines where less is more. Drink now-2015+ Tasted October 2008.
May 2009 NEAL MARTIN 89 Drink 2009 - 2012 $288-$477
Tasted single blind at the Fine Wine Experience horizontal in London. This has a moderate garnet core. Good lift on the nose, if not particularly complex upon acquaintance. Deserves some time, notes of briary, a touch of black olive, a hint of dark chocolate but all quite restrained and tightly coiled, lacking the complexity of Gruaud ‘83. The palate is medium-bodied, good acidity, very natural and elegant. Fully mature, vibrant, nice poise once again and very fresh – this wine really begs you to take another sip. Not a great deal of depth but the tannins seem very fine on the finish with a touch of sour cherry on the aftertaste. Fades a little in the glass. Drink now-2012. Tasted October 2008.
NEAL MARTIN 91-93 Drink 2003 $288-$477
First tasted in March 2001: mature expressive savory nose with notes of cedar and pencil-lead. Quite sharp acidity - quite a "kick" on the palate. Not as complex as say 1975: its quality above Latour but below Mouton for this vintage. Cranberry and spice on the finish. Drinking very well now. A lovely bottle at Braidwoods in October 2003: This bottle on the other hand was singing. A spicy, slightly bretty nose that complements the wine rather than dominates it. The palate is open and expressive, well-balanced and vigorous. It lacks the complexity of the 1982 or the structure of the 1986, but it is harmonious and classic Bordeaux: pencil-lead and cigar-box with a smoky finish. Drinking now.