I experienced a very special wine on quite an unremarkable day in Norfolk recently… The Chateau Haut-Brion 1998 from Pessac-Leognan, Graves was on the ‘clear-out’ list on an establishment that has recently changed hands (some deals there I inform you!!). It was not a hideous price for a First-Growth unlike figures you will find on wine lists in London eateries.
This bottle had lovely secondary oak characters, some nice cedar, smoke and earthiness but regrettably it did leave us wanting for primary fruit. The nose was expressive and very classical in style with much more oak influence than the gorgeous brambly fruit and currant you would expect. I suspect this would have been a bit of a let down if you had been acquainted with the exceptional 2000 and 2005 vintages from the Chateau. Distinctly present were some nice dusty tannins on the palate. After a couple of hours in the glass however it improved significantly… pity there was not much left by this stage!
If you have the fortune to enjoy a bottle, I do recommend a serious decant prior to appreciating this particular vintage.