Haut-Brion, Château

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Haut-Brion, Château, the most famous property in the graves district in bordeaux producing both red and white wines, today, after years of fierce competition, run in tandem with Ch La mission haut-brion. Manuscripts from the beginning of the 15th century mention extensive vineyards around the lieu-dit Aubrion. But the real founder of the estate was Jean de pontac who, as early as 1525, defined the vineyard as it is today and built the château in 1549. His great-nephew Arnaud III de Pontac, Président of the Bordeaux Parliament, invented the ‘New French Claret Haut-Brion’, a new type of red wine benefiting from ageing, which laid the foundations of great bordeaux. In 1660, the cellar records of the British King Charles II mention that no fewer than 169 bottles of the ‘wine of Hobriono’ (sic) were served at the royal table. The wine was praised by Samuel Pepys, the London diarist, who recorded on 10 April 1663 that he ‘drank a sort of French wine called Ho Bryan that hath a good and most particular taste I never met with.’ In 1666, the son of Arnaud III de Pontac, François-Auguste, opened a tavern in London called Pontack’s Head which soon became ‘…the most fashionable place in all of London…’ where luminaries such as Locke, Swift, Defoe, Dryden, and the members of the Royal Society came to dine or buy Haut-Brion.