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The first vintage of Le Clarence de Haut-Brion is 2007.

The last vintage of the old Chateau Bahans Haut-Brion is 2006.

Prince Robert of Luxembourg is Managing Director of Chateau Haut-Brion, which his great grandfather Clarence DILLON one of the wealthiest men in the world in his time bought in 1935. (His family also owns Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion).

Story By Ch'ng Poh Tiong

In the 1855 Classification of the Medoc, one wine stands out amongst the rest.

In fact, this 'spoiler' upset the otherwise round number of 60 chateaux.

All 60 are from the Medoc, the region north of the port city of Bordeaux. The powers that be, mainly the brokers, divided the 60 estates into something of a modern-day football league table: First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth divisions or, as is more appropriate in a product linked to the earth, Growths,

Although the classification was for the Medoc, there was a glaring omission. To not include this other chateau would have been like to ignore the full moon on a privileged night. The brilliance was too overwhelming. Not to mention that the said property existed even before the other three First Growths.

So it was, that when the Medoc Classification was promulgated in Paris at the World Exposition in 1855, Chateau Haut-Brion of the Graves region was included to make 61.


The original classification had only four First Growths: Lafite, Margaux, Latour and Haut-Brion. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild was a Second Growth and only promoted in 1973 after lobbying by the late Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Actually, Chateau Haut-Brion was producing wine even before the others existed (vines are known to have grown here in 1423). The original great growth was also exported 345 years ago. There is an entry in the Diaries of Samuel PEPYS that famously refers to 'While visiting the Royal Oak Tavern in London on April 10, 1663, there I drank a sort of French wine called Ho-Bryan (sic) which hath a good and most particular taste which I never before encountered...".

Chateau Haut-Brion is also remarkable in that it has been owned by some of the most socially and, vinously, aristocractic families in the history of France and Bordeaux. Their names include Jean DE PONTAC, Charles-Maurice DE TALLEYRAND-PERIGORD and, in modern times, the Dillon Family. The great American statesman (and third president) Thomas JEFFERSON was also a great admirer of the wine.

In 1934, Clarence DILLON (one of the wealthiest men in the world in his time) first visited Chateau Haut-Brion. The Francophile American purchased the property the following year. It is now close to three-quarters of a century that the family has been involved in the great wines of Bordeaux. (Douglas Dillon, son of Clarence, was a banker; United States Ambassador to France under President Dwight EISENHOWER; and, Treasury Secretary in the administration of John F KENNEDY).

"Over the next two years, 2008 to 2010, our family will be celebrating the 75 years of existence of our company Domaine Clarence Dillon in Bordeaux as owner of Chateau Haut-Brion. In 2010, as the second wine of this great estate reaches the exclusive private cellars and eminent restaurant wine lists the world over, we have decided to associate the name of my great grandfather, Clarence Dillon, to that of our estate, Chateau Haut-Brion," announced Prince Robert of Luxembourg, Managing Director of Domaine Clarence Dillon.


Accordingly, Chateau Bahans Haut-Brion has been renamed Le Clarence de Haut-Brion from the 2007 vintage. Just as importantly to note for the wine lover is that Le Clarence de Haut-Brion will also be in the same shaped bottle as the grand vin Chateau Haut-Brion.

"It was exactly 50 years ago, in 1958, that my great grandfather Clarence Dillon decided to use the current Chateau Haut-Brion bottle design for the first wine. In also using this bottle design for our second label, wine lovers the world over will more easily identify the wine. Embossed on the raised glass seal, one will be able to clearly read the word 'Clarence'. We are confident that this will not only pay homage to my great grandfather but also enhance the visibility of our second label," Prince Robert of Luxembourg informed.

Chateau Haut-Brion has been producing a second wine, it is believed, dating back to at least the 1700s. Although no record exists as to what it was called then, from the beginning of the 20th century, the name Chateau Bahans Haut-Brion existed because there is a label in Chateau Haut-Brion's collection of the 1907 vintage.

The name was that of a family who had owned a portion of land, between 1796 and 1875, which was later integrated into the estate of Haut-Brion.

That being the case, renaming Chateau Bahans Haut-Brion makes perfect sense as the move reflects the ownership of Chateau Haut-Brion in its modern era since Clarence Dillon acquired it in 1935.

Le Clarence de Haut-Brion 2007, the first deliveries of the renamed second label of Chateau Haut-Brion, are expected in December 2009.

All Rights Reserved · The Wine Review · 2013