Chateau Haut Brion has finally acquired its little neighbour Domaine Allary Haut Brion – which sits practically on its doorstep. This 3.3 acre vineyard had been owned by the Allary family for over 90 years and for most of the succeeding years it was leased by Haut Brion, the Allary family being paid their rent in wine. This history of this little vineyard dates back to 1919 when Mr Touraille (maternal grandfather of the current owners) bought 3 parcels of vines named Haut Brion La Passion.
Clive Coates, in his excellent article about this little vineyard, has traced its roots to an earlier estate named Chateau Loup Blanc Haut Brion (the White Wolf of Haut Brion) however it’s not known whether the vineyard had been owned by the First Growth Chateau Haut Brion in the past or not. It was probably once part of the manorial holdings. He also explains that due to a lawsuit that Chateau Haut Brion pursued all over the Graves, the chateau that had originally been known as ‘Haut Brion, La Passion’ was forced to change its name to ‘La Passion Haut Brion’. (It’s not unusual for prestigious chateaux to do this to protect their names, reputations and branding see my Blog: The Battle for Lafite)
Following a period of neglect during the Second World War Mr Touraille’s sons-in-law Michel Allary and Jean Bardinon decided to restore Domaine de La Passion Haut Brion in 1948 – with the help of Georges Delmas of Haut Brion. A share cropping agreement was reached whereby Haut Brion would manage the vineyards and winemaking, taking 1/3rd of the wine in payment. Domaine de La Passion Haut Brion produced wine in this way from 1954 up until 1978. These vintages were highly acclaimed and are collectable.
In 1978 new EU regulations were passed that meant that the two chateau could not share the wine making facilities as they were separately owned. The result was that La Passion’s wine went into the Second Wine of Bahans Haut Brion and the Allary family was paid rent in bottles of Haut Brion (1.5 Barrel or 40 cases).
However in 2007 the Allary family regained control of their plots as they wanted to make a wine of their own once more. Haut Brion made an offer to purchase the vineyard which was refused. The Allary family lost the legal battle to use the name Domaine de La Passion Haut Brion and renamed their wine Domaine Allary Haut Brion. Their first vintage released commercially was 2008 with Derenoncourt acting as consultant oenologist. The last vintage vinified was 2011 which seems as shame as these 4 vintages did very well. Robert Parker remarked on the 2010:
“This minuscule 3-acre vineyard located within the Haut-Brion vineyard used to be called La Passion Haut-Brion and old-timers will no doubt remember the remarkable wines that emerged from this parcel. Now under new owners with Stephane Derenoncourt as the consultant, the 2010 resurrects the memories of those previous beauties.”
Chateau Haut Brion began taking over the vineyards last summer and harvested the 2012. Daniel Allary told Wine Spectator that the eventual sale was ‘a natural course of events’:
“We experimented making the wine ourselves for a few years, but it was such a small quantity.” (The estate only makes about 400 – 450 cases per year).
Prince Robert de Luxembourg, owner of Haut Brion, noted he was considering replanting the parcels in the future, though they would likely be earmarked for the Second Wine Le Clarence de Haut Brion for now. Marie-Felicia Allary is currently considering new winemaking projects.