1993 Haut Brion - Wine Advocate # 109 - Feb 1997: One of my favorite and most educational visits in Bordeaux is the time I spend with Haut-Brion's highly respected administrator, Jean Delmas. Delmas is the thinking man's winemaker, with a level of experience and success that is unequaled in Bordeaux. On this visit, we discussed at length the strong tendency in Bordeaux to produce wines with higher and higher percentages of Merlot. As Jean Delmas says, (1), Merlot provides grapes that can be picked earlier, and tend to ripen with higher degrees of sugar, thus producing wines with higher alcohol. (2) Merlot has less acidity, which, combined with its tendency to produce high alcohol, results in a sweeter, supple, and initially more seductive wine. (3) Winemakers can extract more from Merlot than they can from Cabernet Sauvignon, thus they can vinify Merlot at higher temperatures, ultimately producing exotic, opulent wines that are thrilling to taste young. However, as Delmas pointed out, it is the Cabernet Sauvignon that provides the structure, backbone, and, to his palate, ultimately the greatest measure of complexity, character, and Bordeaux typicity. Jean Delmas enjoys a sumptuous Merlot-based wine as much as any Bordeaux wine lover I know, but he is concerned by the replacement of Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards with Merlot. In short, he worries that much of the intrinsic character of many Medoc and Graves chateaux could be muted or lost in a succession of exotic, flashy, glitzy wines that are garish Medoc imitations of Pomerols and St.-Emilions - something to think about. One of the great wines of the vintage, Haut-Brion's 1993 possesses a dark garnet/plum/purple color, an expressive, fragrant, sweet, berry, blackcurrant, mineral, lead pencil, and earthy-scented nose, and medium to full-bodied, concentrated flavors that reveal none of this vintage's hardness or herbaceousness. This layered wine offers sweet tannin, good length, and outstanding purity. Its price is moderate when compared to more recent vintages of Haut-Brion. Give it 3-4 years of cellaring and consume it between 2001-2020.
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