Chateau Haut-Brion - Jean-Philippe Delmas
First impressions of the 2004 vintage
It is obviously too early to have any positive convictions regarding the quality of this
vintage at Chateau
Haut-Brion but we nevertheless can share our first impressions with you.
This winter at
though not terribly
harsh, was quite cold and was noted for its relatively small amount of rain. In February one recorded only of the usual rainfall. This lack of water,
at Haut-Brion, was accentuated throughout the spring culminating with an extremely dry month of June (11mm instead of the usual 65). One observed that the extreme heat and sunlight during this month permitted a rapid and uniform flowering.
Haut-Brion, the month of July was completely normal, regarding both temperature and rainfall. At this point one could already assess the abundance of the coming crop. In early July, 70 people began the
green harvesting (removing clusters of grapes) and leaf zrimming throughout our vineyards. This work continued right up until the onset of the
harvest. This crop certainly required more attention and was far more labour intensive than any other in a very long time.
was slightly warmer and a little more humid than the averages gleaned from the past fifty years. This
vintage features the dearth of water recorded during the winter and spring. Thanks to this lack of humidity, the vine stopped growing and instead regularly nourished the fruit.
At this point, due to the damp weather we began to worry about the evolution of the grapes and the potential dangers that the excess humidity might bring if these conditions persisted. We therefore decided,
to remove the leaves situated on either side of every vine in
order to allow better aeration and avoid possible rotting. Any
existing anxiety dissipated and was replaced with optimism at
the onset of the superb, very warm and dry month of September.
the harvest began on September 6th with the
Sauvignon blanc. We found an excellent
balance between the
sugar and the
acidity. As this is being written, the
fermentation of all our lots of white wine is finished. Although one does not find the same
richness as last year, we do find a wine of remarkable
freshness. We began our harvesting of the reds with the
on September 16th. We have already noted that these
Merlots are of a better quality to those of the past three vintages.
Just over a month has passed since we finished harvesting. We put a great amount of time and effort into deciding which parcels (depending on many variables such as varietals and age) should go into which vat. The next challenge
Haut-Brion is to follow the
alcoholic fermentations as closely as possible. To do this properly we must check every individual vat many times throughout the day. This year,
at Chateau Haut-Brion, the
fermentations took their time, but we are very pleased by the result. The
fermentation completed, we can finally
taste this wine now resting beneath its cap of amber foam. The
nose; though still marked by the
fermentation process, reveals a great presence of red fruit. The wine,
is very dense with good colour and a decent
tannic concentration. These tannins are far from
being aggressive, in fact they show a great softness and
ripeness which is bound to be one of the hallmarks of this
vintage. With good colour,
structure and these
round and mature tannins, there is no doubt that we have all the premices of a very good
vintage at Chateau
enough of the good qualities which we seek from the skins we run off the vats before this
goes too far. Now, at Chateau
Haut-Brion comes the time for a second fermentation: the
malolactic fermentation. At the moment I write these lines, some vats have now completed this second phase and others are still in the
fermentation process. Soon we will be able to begin
our first blending
trials, the magical moment, at Chateau
Haut-Brion, when we will start to discover the outline of what will eventually become our Grand Vin.
Jean-Philippe Delmas - Chateau Haut Brion