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In 1550, Jean de Pontac built Château Haut-BrionThe Pontac family traces their origins to the small city of the same name in the Béarn region near Pau. The family history dates back to the 11th century. As early as the 15th century, the name Pontac is found associated with wine trading.
Arnaud I de Pontac, member of the bourgeoisie and a Bordeaux wine merchant was the patriarch and founder of the family fortune during the 15th century. Every great wine is the culmination of centuries of work by people looking for, and then acquiring, the best parcels.
The second wine is not grown on specific parcels. It is grown on the same land as the First Growth. Thus it has the same origin, the same character, and the same originality as the First Growth. The difference between the two is that the First Growth is the product of the ultimate search for excellence, while the second wine does not attain the same complexity and force. The second wine is the junior model of the First Growth.
Why the name of Bahans?
It is important to make the distinction between a second wine and a second growth. Neither two separate growths nor two different wines may belong to the same parcel of land.
However the same area may produce two distinct levels of quality, for example a First Growth, and its Second Wine.
Therefore, though a Second Wine does lack its own identity or geographic position, it nevertheless shares the identity and the history of the First Growth.
Since the beginning of the century, the Second Wine of Château Haut-Brion bears the name of "Bahans". This name comes from a family who in the past owned a small part of the Haut-Brion estate. The name of this wine is to commemorate the historical contribution made by the Bahans family to the making of fine wine.