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Page 3 of the interview with

Jean-Philippe Delmas
Château Haut Brion

It is said that the success of Haut-Brion rests on its stability. You are the third generation of Delmas in charge of Haut-Brion.

Yes, sure, stability is significant when you are in the wine business. The typicity of a wine comes from its ecosystem. Another part is brought by the human touch, it is the style of the wine. When there is a change at the winery: oenologist, team, owner, the wine changes more or less. The succession of generations with the same approach makes it possible to have a continuity in the wine we make. As it is the same family, with the same way of thinking, the choices always go in the same direction. And you can find these choices in the wine. Indeed, we can say that Haut-Brion is famous for its regularity.

Taking into account this stability, what is the importance of the terroir in the success of Haut-Brion?

I prefer to talk about ecosystem rather than terroir. I include in the ecosystem: the soil, the plant, the microclimate, the relief and other factors. Then, it depends on the sensitivity of the wine grower and wine maker. Either you respect the ecosystem, or you make a wine without taking into account the ecosystem. These are two different approaches. For us, the soil is essential. We choose to respect the ecosystem.

What are the differences between Haut-Brion and the other Premiers Grands Crus Classés. We use to say that Haut-Brion is the most accessible and identifiable. Your opinion?

We all have a specific ecosystem for each of us. We all make different wines, with different styles. Haut-Brion has the characteristic to have a empyreumatic signature (range of organic aromas). It means that you can find in the aromatic range: smoked, tobacco, coffee aromas. It is a signature that is very specific to Haut-Brion. It has always been there. Based on that, Haut-Brion is maybe the most identifiable of the Premiers Crus. On the other hand, three Premiers Crus are in Pauillac. They are easier to identify because they come from the same appellation.

You are also in charge of La Mission Haut-Brion. The two Château are separated by a road. In addition to the classification, what are the differences between the two wines?

The ecosystem is not exactly the same. The soil of the Mission is a little bit richer. We must control the strength of the plant and manage the density of the plantation. Just for your information, the ratio of vines per hectare is 10 000 vines at the Mission for 8 000 at Haut-Brion. The first layer of the soil is a mix of sand and gravels. The second layer is made of clay. In fact it changes according to each part of the vineyard. The grapes are also a little bit different. With the same team, with almost the same winery, we don't make the same wine. This is the magic of wine making.

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Jean Philippe Delmas, Château Haut-Brion

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