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1989 Chateau Haut Brion

I have never had a bottle of wine this old before. We opened it last night and wanted a ballpark figure of price on it. Red Bordeaux, outstanding and smooth. Does anyone have any info?

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  1. $1,200, I hope it was worth it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TonyO

      Actually $750-900 is more like it.

      1. re: TonyO

        Actually, $750-900 is more like it.

      2. It was a gift from a client. You think the case he bought at the time was less than one bottle is worth now? What is your reference source for pricing? Is there anything else that would be interesting to know about this wine?

        2 Replies
        1. re: personalcheffie

          That is (or should be) ONE special client. I'd add a few additonal amuse bouches to the next meal, or whatever.

          Do share your observations with the client, re the wine. They will greatly appreciate your joy.


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            His assistant called me last nite about heating instructions. I asked her if his whole collection was like this, she said yes. He's very generous, although I did not name the wine, she had an idea which one it was. He apparently has many different ones. I told her one day I'd like to see his collection.

        2. I would go online and do a search. 1989 was a stellar year for Bordeaux. I'm not sure of the original cost for a case but I'm sure there are other CH'ers that are ! Give it time, I'm sure they will chime in on this one.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TonyO

            I paid $60/bottle as a futures purchase - sold it a few years later (only because I really needed the money) for $400/bottle. It was thought of as the best 1989 upon release. The couple of times I had it did nothing to dispel me of that notion.

          2. 1989 Haut Brion ... hmm, just to be sure: can you please confirm which one of these? (It should be easy by reading carefully what's on the label)

            La Mission Haut Brion
            Haut Brion
            Haut Brion Blanc
            La Tour Haut-Brion
            Les Carmes Haut Brion
            Larrivet Haut Brion

            1. Right under the pix of the Chateau, here's what the entire label reads:

              Chateau Haut Brion
              Cru Classe de Graves
              Premier Grand Cru Classe en 1855
              Appellation Pessac Leognan Controlee

              1. Zacky's auction NYC Nov 2006, 3 bottle Lot # 1215, hammer estimates $1700/2800 per lot, went for $3081 including 18.5% commission. Or $1027 per bottle.

                Zacky's auction NYC Jan 2004, 12 bottle Lot # 36, hammer estimates $4200/6000 per lot, went for $6435 including commission. Or $536 per bottle

                100% inflation in two years, not bad for free market cum tons of free floating money cum lots of schmocks looking for fancy stuff to spend it.

                Price upon release: I'd guesstimate $60.

                "Is there anything else that would be interesting to know about this wine?" Well, certainly, it's a Parker 100 Points bella donna, pretty much since the day it was born. Here's the latest comments from the guru:

                Haut-Brion has been the most consistent first-growth over the last decade, producing top-notch wines, even in such tough years as 1987, 1993, and 1994. The 1989 is one of a handful of truly profound wines from a vintage that tends to be overrated, save for the Pomerols, a few St.-Emilions, and some overachievers in the Medoc. However, 1989 was an extraordinary success for Jean Delmas, the administrator of Haut-Brion and La Mission-Haut-Brion. The prodigious 1989 Haut-Brion is one of the greatest first-growths I have ever tasted. It has always reminded me of what the 1959 must have tasted like in its youth, but it is even richer and more compelling aromatically. The wine exhibits an opaque ruby/purple color, as well as a sweet nose of jammy fruit, tobacco, spicy oak, minerals, and smoke. Fabulously concentrated, with huge levels of fruit, extract, and glycerin, this wine is nearly viscous because of its thickness and richness. Low acidity gives the wine even more appeal and adds to its precociousness. The wine has not budged in development since it was first bottled, although it has always provided thrilling drinking because of its voluptuous texture. It needs another 5-6 years of bottle age before it will begin to develop Haut-Brion's fabulous fragrance. Expect it to hit its plateau of maturity around 2003-2005 and drink well for 15-25 years.

                1. I talked to my client last night. This was after the first couple of sips. I just couldn't believe it. He told me another 'vintner's' was going for $1200 a bottle, I couldn't tell which one he mentioned. Here is what I pulled up from Wine-Journal.com

                  Ch. Haut-Brion 1989 Sep-04 98-100
                  First tasted Sept-02 when it was perfect. Stunning nose: mulberry, menthol, roasted herbs. Perfect definition. Perfect palate, rich peppery fruits. A heavenly balance with perfect acidity. I really cannot fault this wine. Leaves a sensuous tingle in the mouth - the finish is over a minute. For once: believe the hype. Other-worldly. Tasted again at the FWE vertical in Apr-04. An extraordinarily sweet, decadent nose that is much more backward and broody than the 1990. The palate fails to detonate like last time. A dense, tannic core, earthy and restrained. It lacks the power and structure I was expecting. Then in Sept-04 at the Farr horizontal: A much more feminine, regal nose compared to the unruly La Mission 1989. Quite rounded, with melted dark chocolate. The palate has wonderful definition: so smooth and elegant. Not as powerful as I expected: this is far more subtle and refined. Cashmere tannins. Very focused and sophisticated. Completely different to La Mission but equal on qualitive terms.

                  I don't know if I will ever experience another wine quite this fine. It was a great compliment to my U6 shrimp and rib eye dinner, and ringing in the New Year quite memorable.

                  Thank you all for your help.

                  1. Here's a link to the report of the BYO Bordeaux dinner of SF chowhounds in March 2003 that included the 1990 and 1989 Haut Brion in a single blind tasting.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Melanie or anyone else? Can you please enlighten me as to the numbers the Chowhounds gave the wines? They seem to be on a different scale? Please explain.

                      1. re: personalcheffie

                        Rankings, 1 to however many wines in the tasting. Then you sum them, lower is better. If you've got eight wines and nine people, the best possible score is 9 (everyone's first), the worst possible is 72 (everyone's last).

                      2. re: Melanie Wong

                        Funny. We have a similar group in LA (monthly meetings), with similar rating technique. The particular tasting you mention was pretty favorable to Parker, even though only one taster chose the 100 pointer as favorite. Our experience with Parker high ratings is frankly appalling. Only in very limited instances (as far as I can recall, only the Rayas 1990) the entire team agreed with the guru. Most of the time though, the guru's highs are our mid-to-low ones.

                        1. I've also had the '89 HB on several occasions and it is one of my favorite Bordeaux. It helps that I prefer Haut Brion as my favorite First Growth. It is a tremendous wine. In my experience a prolonged decant does still help this wine greatly and I think there are decades left in the life of it. I would have to say that, in my opinion, this wine does in fact deserve the Parker score.

                          Current auction prices for this wine are generally in the neighborhood of $650 to $750, although I've seen crazy prices all over the map. In fact a WineCommune auction recently closed under $700 and there's a bottle on WineBid with a $700 current bid. Given what 2005 Bordeaux will be at release (crazy futures), it's a veritable bargain.

                          The interesting thing about the Parker scores on this wine is that it was given a 98-100 range when initially tasted, prior to it's first "official" score, and then has had the 100 score each time thereafter. God knows I don't always agree with Parker, but rarely have I found a "Parker Perfect" to be a poor wine... although once that score hits, the price premium can become quite alarming.

                          1. I called him today to tell him I had done some research on the wine. He split a case of this about 4 years ago with someone. I didn't ask what he paid. He knew it had virtually doubled in value in the last couple of years. So he knows what he has, I'm wondering how many more bottles he has!

                            I thanked him again. I probably will NEVER experience a finer wine in my lifetime. It was a nice experience. I didn't know if I should have known beforehand what I was drinking or not. I probably would have had a little more respect for it. It went down very easily.

                            1. http://www.wine-searcher.com/
                              For all of your wine pricing and searching needs. I have no interest in the site, other than using it because it is awesome.

                              1. Thanks. I was on all sites today doing a search before I posted here. I wasn't sure what I had, and everyone helped me out quite a bit. Man, I have never had anyone, especially a client bestow such a nice gift on me.

                                Another gave me fabulous French Red and will ask her what it was when I see her this week. Would like to find out about that one as well.

                                1. 89 is a stellar vintage??? More stellar than 1996, 2000, or 2003?

                                  I wouldn't be so wowed by the 1989 Haut Brion. Label chasers often drool at the site of first growths.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: BellaDonna

                                    >>89 is a stellar vintage??? More stellar than 1996, 2000, or 2003?<<

                                    Absolutely stellar. The 1980s saw a run of excellent vintages in Bordeaux: '82, '83, '85, '86, '88, '89 and '90. Many feel the '89s was among the best of the best: "Early spring and splendid summer. The top wines will be classics of the ripe dark kind with elegance and length." (Hugh Johnson). "As with the 1982s, this is a vintage that will probably be enjoyable to drink over a broad span of years. ... While there is considerable variation in quality, the finest 1989s from Pomerol, St-Julien, Pauillac and St-Est├Ęphe will, in specific cases, rival some of the greatest wines in 1982 and 1986." (Robert Parker, who rates the Haut-Brion 100 points and one of the top wines of the vintage). Bettane & Desseauve (Revue des vins de France at the time) call '89 on the right bank, along with '82, '86, '90, '96 and 2000, "exceptionnelle." Etc.

                                    >>I wouldn't be so wowed by the 1989 Haut Brion.<<

                                    Then you probably haven't had the good fortune to taste it. While I'm not normally one to agree with Parker, this is a fabulous wine whose only downside is its high price.

                                    >>Label chasers often drool at the [sight] of first growths.<<

                                    True but that's obviously not the case here.

                                    Happy cynical new year to you too. :)

                                    1. re: carswell

                                      Thanks fellow Ch'ers for defending my use of the word "stellar". What's next, being cited for grammatical errors ?

                                      1. re: TonyO

                                        Isn't that what Marlon Brando was yelling in On the Waterfront? ; )

                                        1. re: monkuboy

                                          "A Streetcar Named Desire." Obviously, he'd also had a btl. of the HB '89!


                                    2. re: BellaDonna

                                      1989: more stellar than 1996, probably as good as 2000 or 2003 but those years are much too young to tell yet.

                                      1. re: BellaDonna

                                        Actually the 89' is much more complex than the 96,00,03 so far.
                                        Possibly 20 years from now the 00 will overtake it but for now 89 is the best of the bunch! Over the last 10 yrs we have enjoyed about a doz bottles with friends and the HB 89 always shows well. Other big favorites are Petrus 89, 90, Margaux 90, Cheval Blanc 82, 90, Latour 82, 90.

                                        1. re: BellaDonna

                                          > 89 is a stellar vintage???

                                          As regards Graves on average, good but not stellar.

                                          As regards Ch. Haut-Brion in particular, 1989 is generally regarded as one of the best vintages ever. E.g. Wine Spectator:

                                          1989: 100
                                          1996: 91
                                          2000: 94
                                          2003: 96

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            When it comes to Bordeaux I prefer Parker's ratings:

                                            89 100pts
                                            96 94pts
                                            2000 98pts

                                        2. In Seattle, all the Micro-softies use this wine for making Spodies.

                                          1. Visit winezap.com - you enter the vintage and wine, and receive a list of vendors with their prices. The 1989 rocks!
                                            Try the 1982 if you can find some.

                                            1. 1989 Haut Brion is one of the greatest wines around. Loved it since its release. While a big fan of HB, this is one of the best wines ever to come from the estate. Waiting to open my 3L's of this glorious juice.

                                              The length of the finish is never-ending....

                                              1. wow, it would take the jaws of life for me to let go of this client.

                                                This wine might've ruined your palette forever, it is that good. There are always skeptics for anything this hyped. The proof is in the pudding, ask how many of these skeptics have had the opportunity to taste it?

                                                1. "You think the case he bought at the time was less than one bottle is worth now? "

                                                  If he bought it at or shortly after release, it's very possible, it was going for around $100/btl IIRC. (Except for Petru, as always, little Bordeaux was selling for much above $100, and that was comparatively high at the time.) People don't bitch and moan about current wine prices for no reason - we're not exactly talking about keeping up with inflation here!!

                                                  $1200/btl sounds like a restaurant price, not an auction price.

                                                  1. PS: I'm not comparing release price with after-market price - obviously - I mean release prices which have become totally insane.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: MikeG

                                                      1989 Haut Brion now sells for at least $1,200 at retail.... The price of the best bordx and burgs have been going thru the roof ... a sad situation and there are no signs of it slowing down.

                                                    2. Lowest I saw on the web was $1,074.

                                                      That is an historically good bottle of wine. Friends who have had it tell me it is among the greatest Bordeaux they've tasted.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: whiner

                                                        I agree.... one of my favorites. I also just had a great Magnum of 1982 Pichon Lalande which was killer (almost as good).

                                                        Regarding pricing. I thought I'd take a look (as I believe you did) at the best source for price and avail on the web... WineSearcher.com. The 1,074 price you quoted is a little misleading... as its from an Auction web site... therefore, the final price could be higher. The lowest price listed is at VinFolio, a very reputable place in CA... they have 4 btls at what is a good price for today's market... a bit higher at 1,099. Then things get a lot higher.... a lot higher than the $89 I paid in Europe back in 1992.

                                                        1. re: WineTravel

                                                          I've dealt with VinFolio before. Good place. '82 P-L is a great wine. Never had it out of magnum, though. And, it has that damn Pichon-Lalande green tobacco in it, which I seem never to be able to escape when drinking a P-L. I think I scored it a 95 the last time I tried it, but would have gone higher, otherwise.

                                                          Haut Brion is, bar none, my favorite Bordeaux estate.

                                                          1. re: whiner

                                                            Can't argue with that. Do you also like La Mission Haut Brion? In good years it's also amazing.

                                                            1. re: WineTravel

                                                              I can't say I've had any of the legendary La Missions, but I've never been impressed, and I've had some of the better ones. Really, I should say that I'm not a huge Bordeaux fan. There is just something amazing about Haut Brion that no other estate really captures, to me. In fact, I've had RP 99 or 100 pointers from all the first growths, but my second favorite estate is Montrose. Very odd, I know...

                                                              (Never had a Petrus, though.)

                                                              1. re: whiner

                                                                Petrus is a Merlot. IMHO, since it is a different varietal, this puts Petrus in a different category.

                                                                1. re: chickstein

                                                                  Obviously Merlot. But since I called it "Bordeaux" and not "left bank Bordeaux" I thought I'd mention it... wasn't really suggesting that it would taste too similar. (Although, to be fair, Cheval Blanc, Cab Franc / Merlot, can taste very left-bank-y some vintages.)