Chateau Haut Brion   Haut Brion

1986 Haut Brion

By Chateau Haut Brion

1986 Haut Brion from Chateau Haut Brion, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux

The 1986 Haut Brion from Chateau Haut Brion remains an emblematic figure in the tapestry of fine Bordelais wines, a testament to a year that challenged the region’s vintners with its climatic idiosyncrasies. The harvest of '86 followed a captivating performance by Mother Nature, replete with contrasts of a mild winter and a cool, wet early spring—to the eventual emergence of favourable conditions that culminated during harvest.


Elegance Enshrined in a Bottle

This esteemed vintage lies at an ethereal crossroads between robust power and stately elegance. The season’s eventual warmth and ample sunlight imbued the berries with admirable concentration while preserving crucial acidity, forging a vintage echoing the profundity and grandeur one associates with Pessac-Leognan's distinctive terroir.

The 1986 Haut Brion tantalises the palate with a complex assemblage of blackcurrant and earthy truffle, supported by a backbone infused by the slightest whisper of tobacco—a convergence of flavours that offers merely a glimpse into the soul of this storied estate. Draping the taste buds in layers of silken texture, it showcases mature tannins that speak to its venerable age yet exhibit the promise of time’s generous hand, suggesting further evolution for those seeking to deepen their investment collections.


An Investment Vintage Par Excellence

In terms of wine investment, understanding the singularity of this wine is crucial. A well-cellared bottle of 1986 Haut Brion from Chateau Haut Brion epitomises the judicious balance between immediate return and long-term potential. It is an investment piece that continues to garner interest from connoisseurs and collectors alike, given how elegantly this vintage has traversed through the decades.

To indulge in the 1986 Haut Brion is to appreciate how vintage variation can deeply influence Bordeaux's most stately offerings. I heartily affirm its position as a prestigious addition to any discerning portfolio; its enduring grace and complexity remain steadfastly unwavering amidst the relentless tide of newer vintages seeking recognition.

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Scores and tasting notes


Tasted at the La Mission/Haut-Brion dinner at The Ledbury. A second bottle from my cellar and it is almost identical with that engaging bouquet of fresh tobacco and here, a touch of Cohiba cigar! Again, the palate has a great deal of freshness and mineralite, perhaps even more cohesive than the previous bottle, with an foursquare but beautifully defined finish. Shame it is my last bottle. Drink now-2035. Tasted September 2010.

Neal Martin - Wine Journal Nov 2010


This wine continues to be backward, but the bouquet is beginning to develop secondary nuances from roasted herbs and sweet cigar tobacco to compost, leathery notes, along with plenty of sweet cherry and black currant fruit. I had somewhat higher hopes for it a decade ago. The wine is still youthful, quite pure, medium to full-bodied, but somewhat elevated, austere tannins in the finish at age 16 are starting to make me think they will never become fully integrated. As always, making a judgment call on a wine destined to have a half-century of life is sometimes difficult, given the varying stages it goes through, but I wonder if this wine will turn out to be as profound as I once predicted. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2030. Last tasted, 11/02.

Robert Parker Jr - Bordeaux Book, 4th Edition Jan 2003


Tasted at the château, the 1986 Haut Brion is a vintage that I had not tasted for some time. It is a blend of 28% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 62% Cabernet Sauvignon according to the chateau's records. Mirroring the 1996 La Mission, in this vintage that Haut-Brion occupies a higher quality level, with more complexity and vivacity on the nose: dusky black fruit, warm gravel, terracotta and cigar humidor. Lovely! The palate is very well balanced, maybe a little rustic compared to recent vintages, yet with firm body and grip. It's the kind of gruff, almost surly, broad-shouldered 1986s that might be a little curmudgeonly compared to 1985 or 1989, however after 30 years you are compensated with plenty of freshness and focus. I don't think it ranks up there with the best of the First Growth...that would come in other vintages, but it still provides plenty of drinking pleasure for those who love their classic claret with capital "C". Tasted July 2016.

Neal Martin - The Wine Advocate, 30 December 2016

Vintage performance