History of the Brion estate by Imperial Wines of London
Château Haut Brion is situated in Pessac, Graves, approximately one mile away from Bordeaux. The vineyard here stretches over more than 109 acres, and according to figures from Imperial Wines of London, produces up to 14,000 cases of wine every year. Haut Brion is the only estate outside of Medoc to be named as a First Growth. Wine grapes have been grown on the land here for several centuries, with the earliest record of this indicating cultivation during the 15th century. The estate itself was constructed in 1525, when Jeanne de Bellon and Jean de Pontac married.
The wine from Haut Brion was one of the first from the five First Growth estates to be exported to the United States; Imperial Wines of London say that it was Thomas Jefferson who purchased six cases whilst travelling through France, and sent them back to his house in Virginia. Haut Brion has been owned by many notable people over the course of the last four centuries, including three mayors of the city of Bordeaux, a Governor of Guyenne, a French Grand marshal, an archbishop and several admirals. In the mid 20th century, it was purchased by the Secretary of the US Treasury, Douglas Dillon. The estate was then inherited by the Duchesse de Mouchy, which, Imperial Wines of London say, makes it the only one of the First Growths to have been owned by an American.
According to Imperial Wines of London, Dillon was quick to modernise the winemaking techniques used at Haut Brion, and introduced the stainless steel fermentation vats. This proved to be a wise decision, as just a few years later the 1970 vintage was named as one of the top ten French red wines, in the famous ‘Judgement of Paris’ wine contest. To this day, the Grand Vin at Haut Brion is fermented in vats made from stainless steel, after which it is aged in oak barrels for two years. It has a highly complex bouquet of mineral, earthy scents, combined with tobacco and ripe fruit, along with a full body and excellent structure. Imperial Wines of London say that Haut Brion winemakers are particularly adept at producing wine which is perfectly balanced.