|Subregion||France > Bordeaux > Left Bank > Pessac-Léognan|
Frequently the qualitative equal of sister-château Haut Brion and in some years even better. The historic La Tour Haut Brion vineyard has been incorporated into La Mission now but most of the fruit is relegated to the 2nd label - La Chapelle de la Mission. La Mission's production levels are now smaller than ever and, more than ever, it can be seen as an 'honorary' first growth. There are normally around 5,000 cases produced annually. The vineyard is planted with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot.
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The 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion has a detailed bouquet with a mixture of red and black fruit, black olive, terracotta and a light wet clayey scent (I sometimes think of a potter's wheel.) It gains complexity in the glass and becomes increasingly refined. The palate is beautifully balanced and caters for the 14.7% alcohol with ease. Very fine tannins, perfectly matched with the acidity, beguiling in terms of its cohesive and velvety smooth finish that lingers long in the mouth. The greatest La Missions are the effortless ones and the 2020 is just that. Beautiful. Drink 2028-2060.
This really builds on the palate. Loads of blackberry and iodine with asphalt undertones. It’s full-bodied with tannins that steamroll at the end and keep going. Classic blend.
Composed of 48.6% Merlot, 43.2% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8.2% Cabernet Franc, harvested from 7th to 29th September, the 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion has an alcohol of 14.7%. It needs considerable swirling and coaxing to reveal slowly emerging scents of freshly crushed blackcurrants, Morello cherries, wild blueberries and forest floor, leading to suggestions of violets, baker's chocolate and cardamom with wafts of dusty soil and oolong tea. The medium to full-bodied palate bursts with impactful, fresh red, black and blue fruit layers, supported by impressive freshness and fantastically ripe, fine-grained tannins, finishing very long and fragrant. A stunning expression of this vintage!
Grips from the first moment, lashings of damson, cassis, brownie, chocolate shavings, espresso, pencil lead, plum pudding, incense, the is muscular but juicy, totally mouthwatering, real tension and depth, powerful but restrained. Gets better and better the more you go back to it, building in floral notes, lives up to its En Primeur promise. Harvest from 7th to 29th September.
Full embossed bottle 1,280 g. Cask sample taken 13 April … nice and fresh! 48.6% Merlot, 43.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.2% Cabernet Franc picked 7 to 29 September. Estimated alcohol 14.7%.
Dark, blackish crimson. Obviously extremely dense and concentrated – so much so that initially the nose is buried in all that concentration. Then – whoosh – what a spread of firm fruit and layers of cassis and minerals! There is no shortage of ripe tannin buried under here so this will be a very slow burner but it's a worthy addition to the La Mission canon. Needs years and years and it's far from opulent, but then that's not what La Mission is about. Subtly builds towards a very long peacock's tail finish. Though it's impossible to imagine drinking this tightly structured wine without food.
Drink 2032 – 2055
The 2020 is a blend of 48.6% Merlot, 43.2% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8.2% Cabernet Franc. Deep ruby in the glass. Expolsively aromatic, full of cedar, tobacco, cassis and dark cherry. Brambly dark fruit competes with a cool graphite note on the palate, offering sweet and savoury in equal measure. There are exotic notes of liquorice and clove too, but everything is measured and harmonious. Firm but ripe tannins offer ample structure for long term ageing, complementing rather than dominating the fruit. Expansive on the finish that has a flourish of spice and dried flowers.
(49% M, 42% CS, 8% CF; 14.7% ABV)
Ripe blackberry and cassis-sweet and finely oak-tinged to smell; the merest hint of raisin?; rich and concentrated, defined by a fresh to vital acidity and firmly but finely dry in tannin; refined core fruit, long and close-grained and gently mouthcoating, the “gravel” element is hardly apparent any more, and the firm 2020 tannins are a bit hardened and dried by the nearly 15% alcohol; its overall balance and “frame” apart, this remains refined and subtle, long in the mouth, with excellent fragrant fruit length. I would no longer recognize it as LMHB blind. Which is not to say that it is not good wine, just that it now tastes rather more of its climate than its soil. Will that change with bottle age? Who knows. It is said that always “terroir will out”—let’s hope so! The alcohol just gives a slighly hard dryness to the overall texture, and the ripeness masks the “cooler” (soil-based?) aspect of terroir. All that said, this remains a classy wine … but vitiated in some sense? Subtle, complex, racy, complete. But no longer Pessac-gravelly! 2032–52+.
A kick of black fruit and confident spice right from the first nose, this is an intense and concentrated La Mission, tightly in control, not letting up from beginning to end. The pencil lead and bitter dark chocolate is layered in between the cassis notes in a way that makes you see the Cabernet influence although this is majority Merlot (once again - this is a character of the year, low yields of Cabernet mean Merlot is more featured in the blend than usual; but the intensity of the Cabernets mean that it still has an outsized influence on flavour profile). Grilled coffee beans overtake on the close of play, this is seductive and switches beautifully between the tannins pressing in on the palate and the juice expanding things outwards. This is the wine to go for in the Domaines Clarence Dillon stable this year. Harvest from 7th to 29th September.
Drinking Window 2030 - 2050