Desert Island Wine: Chateau La Tour Haut-Brion 1999

1 Feb

In my last blog post ‘This Year, In Wine’  I mentioned my desire for top rated wines to be accessible to the general public, as well as having some sort of certification for age and proper storage.  This is a convenient example, and a review, of the style of wine I really enjoy sharing with friends.  -JvB

Chateau La Tour Haut-Brion 1999 is a Cru Classe De Graves from Pessac-Leognan, located on the left bank of the Garonne river in the Bordeaux region.

Deep ruby to garnet color with slight browning on the edges. Nose includes mature fruit with herbs, tobacco, oak, and spice. On the palate, muted cassis with some violet and lavender notes, leafy tobacco, wet earth, musk, spice, and wood. Features a long, lovely finish. This wine is medium in body but refined, structured, and classic Bordeaux. This is a great example of a wine that shows all the elements of a great wine with age and depth. Decant for maximum enjoyment.

La Tour Haut-Brion

I purchased this bottle more than two years ago for around $80 put it in my cellar. When I finally drank it, I was very pleased with the purchase. Now, to me this is an expensive -but not an insanely expensive- wine for price, taste, and value. It is, quite simply, very well made, from quality vines, that are grown in quality terroir. During its lifetime (more on that below) the wine consistently rated in the very high 80’s to low 90’s, depending on which high end opinion you endorse. In my opinion, it is delicious, refined, and perfect to share with friends on a special evening.

When this wine was originally released, La Tour Haut-Brion sold in the $30’s. If you can find it today, it commonly sells for around $100/bottle or more.

This is a desert island wine for me- something I could appreciate time and time again, with just about anything, or with nothing at all. But it has to be desert island, because it could never be a regular wine for me- it is simply too far beyond my normal price range. And because there is no more production of this second wine (there are others from the Chateau), when it’s gone, it is gone for good, and we’ll have great memories to share.

Tour Bottle

While $100 feels expensive to me, it is actually a bargain in comparison to the wine’s big sister. For sake of comparison and to know why I moan about the general public not being able to afford first growth wines, the same vintage of their ‘first’ wine, Chateau Haut-Brion 1999, rates around 92-94 points, and is selling between 400-700 per bottle  if  you can find it. The current top vintage  -the stunning 2009- rated at 100 points and I saw recently priced at $1225/bottle. I have a picture of the 2006 (below) which is selling for $550, while the 2011 (which will be released in 2014) is listing at $575 (in advance) from retail stores.


As I hinted previously, this wine is no longer made. La Tour Haut-Brion’s final year of production was 2005. The grapes from 2006 and beyond have been used in the creation of Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion.

There is actually a decent wiki about Chateau La Tour and its history you might enjoy, and another about Chateau Haut-Brion itself.

This wine is a perfect example of the wines I want to be able to buy and enjoy, but are simply on the edge of being too costly for most wine drinkers. I want my higher end wines to be no more than $50-$80. (I can dream!) If I’m spending over a hundred dollars on a bottle, it should be either a very nice restaurant bottle or something very special to me to be enjoyed at a special moment.

While Haut-Brion makes a great desert island wine, there are still lots of other options on the market for other delicious and mature wines. I mean, I haven’t even mentioned Chateau Margaux. Oops. Until now…

What’s YOUR favorite desert island wine?

à votre santé!


2 Responses to “Desert Island Wine: Chateau La Tour Haut-Brion 1999”

  1. jimvanbergen February 2, 2013 at 1:34 am #

    John, I think the Latour might be in a whole other category- heavenly sips! Thanks so much for your comment and your continued support of the blog. Best regards


  2. thewineraconteur February 1, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    If we are talking about realistic wines, I could be very happy to have a Dominus, Caymus Special Select or a Cain Five. Unrealistic, I would love to have another glass or two of the ’61 Latour.
    The first growths have just gotten out of the reach for me, I am afraid. I am just glad that I had the chance to enjoy the ones that I have had.
    – John


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: