Château Haut-Brisson

A diary of my early travels in the Bordeaux region would have been rich with tales of serendipitous discoveries. These were often the best, most exciting kind; I might take a left-turn one junction earlier than usual, and suddenly find myself at the front door of a château, the name and its wines both familiar, the location and distribution of its vineyards not (until now) realised.

Sadly these days are no more. Having travelled the roads of the left and right banks for so many years chance encounters like this are rare. Indeed, I would go so far as to say this simply doesn’t happen any more. At least I would have done until last year, when I chanced upon Château Haut-Brisson, for a long time a part of the Vignobles K portfolio, and a source of good value St Emilion. I had been heading for Château Teyssier, but rather than following the main road I peeled off and cut across country, between grassy verges and rows of low-pruned vines. And then suddenly there it was, its cream-white walls glistening bright and clean, a stark contrast to the sandy soils and shimmering green of the vineyards. The lettering on the wall, which left no doubt as to the identity of the property, shone out a rich, blood red.

Château Haut-Brisson

Of course, while the château is located well out on the plain, its vineyards are more scattered than you might think. Like Jonathan Maltus at Château Teyssier, and Gérard Perse at Château Monbousquet, current owner Peter Kwok soon felt restrained by the sandy terroir of the plain, and he found himself looking to the clay and limestone soils of the St Emilion côtes and plateau, and perhaps a vineyard with greater potential. As a consequence Kwok’s portfolio of properties has expanded considerably since he purchased Château Haut-Brisson in 1997, particularly with the acquisition of Château Bellefont-Belcier and Château Tour Saint Christophe. And along the way, Château Haut-Brisson has benefited.

First, though, let us dive into the history of Château Haut-Brisson. But be warned; this is very shallow water; perhaps, rather than diving, maybe we should just ease ourselves in.

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