4 of the interview with
Château Haut Brion
was the first Chateau of the area to work the wine with stainless
tank. Under the direction of your father, Haut-Brion was famous
for its innovation. Today how do you innovate? Do you have
examples we can reveal here?
things. We will talk about it when we will be sure of the
results. The bad thing about wine today is that you want to
go fast and always faster. We prefer to be careful when something
is changed. We test on a small part. We check how it evolves
with the time. And if positive, then we apply the change to
the whole production. So, yes, we keep on innovating, but
in a reasoned way.
You are growing a few vines of Malbec, Sangiovese
and even the typical burgundy grape Pinot Noir. What happened
of these vines ? Have you produced and sold wine from these
did not put in the market any of these type of grapes. Our
goal was to know how these type of grapes would behave as
they are a little bit exotic in Bordeaux. In addition, we
maintain an ampelographic (descriptive study of a grape variety)
collection of different types of vine clones. We keep them
at the request of the Chambre d'Agriculture office. The French
State distributed the vines geographically in order to reduce
the risk. We keep vines at Haut-Brion and if one day someone
elsewhere in France needs them, he can find them easily. So
we can say that a small part of our vineyards keeps the memory
Can you give us some details on the wine making process
is no special and unique recipe we have at Haut-Brion that
others haven't. On the wine making part, it is more a philosophy.
We like to work in relatively soft extraction in order to
extract the best things out of the grape. We try to avoid
any thermal shock, any mechanical intervention to keep the
specificity of Haut-Brion.
I like to take the example of the tea maceration. The challenge
is to extract enough, without any excess, with only tasting
in mind. Such as the tea, if you infuses the grape skin during
one hour, you will get a rosé. You will find it quite
light for a red wine. If you leave it longer - and such as
tea - you will get a darker and more astringent juice. So
the challenge is to find the ideal infusion time. We spend
a lot of time working on it. It is not easy. The ideal infusion
time is written on the tea bag, but there is nothing written
for wine. The duration can be 15, 20 or 30 days. It depends
of the year.
How long would you recommend to keep a bottle of Haut-Brion?
to distinguish between the vintage types:
difficult vintage, the wine is ready sooner than others. I
take for example the 1997 vintage. Today it is ready to drink.
For a difficult vintage, the wine is good after 5 years in
the cellar. I would not advise to keep it longer as the wine
will not improve.
good vintage, I suggest you to wait 10 years. They can improve
a little bit.
exceptional vintage, well, there are not so many actually.
They are good right from the first beginning and can age for
a long time. They are almost perfect.
I tasted a 1982 vintage, and I don't taste one everyday, I
had the feeling that I tasted it at the right time. 10 years
ago I had the same feeling. It is always the right time with
this kind of wine. You can keep them as long as you wish.
Jean Philippe Delmas, Château Haut-Brion
to the begining of the interview with Jean-Philippe
Delmas, Chateau Haut-Brion
this Haut-Brion poster