Tasted at the chateau, the 1986 Haut Brion is a vintage that I had not tasted for some time. It is a blend of 28% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 62% Cabernet Sauvignon according to the chateau's records. Mirroring the 1996 La Mission, in this vintage that Haut-Brion occupies a higher quality level, with more complexity and vivacity on the nose: dusky black fruit, warm gravel, terracotta and cigar humidor. Lovely! The palate is very well balanced, maybe a little rustic compared to recent vintages, yet with firm body and grip. It's the kind of gruff, almost surly, broad-shouldered 1986s that might be a little curmudgeonly compared to 1985 or 1989, however after 30 years you are compensated with plenty of freshness and focus. I don't think it ranks up there with the best of the First Growth...that would come in other vintages, but it still provides plenty of drinking pleasure for those who love their classic claret with capital "C". Tasted July 2016.
(228, The Wine Advocate 31st Dec 2016)