In terms of the brilliant complexity and nobility of the aromatics, scorched earth, black currants, plums, charcoal, cedar, and spices, the 1990 offers an aromatic explosion that is unparalleled. It is always fascinating to taste this wine next to the 1989, which is a monumental effort, but much more backward and denser, without the aromatic complexity of the 1990. The 1990 put on weight after bottling, and is currently rich, full-bodied, opulent, even flamboyant by Haut Brion’s standards. It is an incredible expression of a noble terroir in a top vintage. While it has been fully mature for a number of years, it does not reveal any bricking at the edge, and I suspect it will stay at this level for another 10-15 years ... but why wait? It is irresistible now. (RP)
A lot has seemingly changed at Haut-Brion since I wrote my historical piece on the estate back in 2007, with a quest for more ripeness and power in this wine (sadly) now quite well established in the last several vintages. That chimeric quest was inconceivable back in 1990, and this wine is a beautiful testament to just how magical this terroir can be when it is the focal point of the wine. This is one of the top 1990s to my palate, soaring from the glass in a beautifully youthful nose of cassis, dark berries, tobacco leaf, a whisper of leather, fresh herb tones, a complex base of gravelly soil tones, cigar smoke and a suave base of new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, seamlessly complex and still quite closed, with a fine core of fruit, superb focus and balance, ripe, beautifully integrated tannins and outstanding length and grip on the refined and very intensely flavored finish. A great 1990 in the making.
Racy and refined, with firm, silky tannins and a long finish. Full-bodied. Mushrooms and ripe fruit on the palate. Needs some bottle age to open. (JS)
Good medium color. Fabulous aromas of spicy cherries, minerals, tobacco and smoky oak. Saline entry, then intense, spicy fruit and excellent extract. Very firm and subtle, with outstanding clarity of flavor. Lovely ripe acids and a long, subtle aftertaste. Will no doubt live in the shadows of the larger-scaled, more dramatic '89, but this very impressive wine should age beautifully. The Graves of the vintage in 1990! (ST)
Gorgeous, lifted, nervy - just right for current drinking, though I'm sure it will last beautifully too. Absolutely unmistakably Haut-Brion with warm bricks in abundance. Not heavy. Tannins well melded. Quite a contrast to the youthful Latour 1990 served alongside. (JR) 18.5/20 points
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