Frequently the qualitative equal of sister-Chateau 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 5000 cases produced annually. The vineyard is planted with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot but this year it's Merlot that is the biggest part with 53.5% of the 2018 blend.
Although it emerges from a similar terroir and the same winemaking team, the 2018 Château La Mission Haut-Brion is a dramatically different wine than the Haut-Brion and has a more concentrated, dense, powerful style that is all potential at this point. Dense purple-hued, with lots of crème de cassis, black cherries, smoked meats, lead pencil, graphite, and crushed stone aromatics, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a concentrated mid-palate, masses of ripe tannins, integrated acidity, and one hell of a finish. This blockbuster, backward, monster of a La Mission Haut-Brion needs to be forgotten for a good decade (or more) but is going to be just about immortal.
The 2018 La Mission Haut-Brion is a blend of 53.5% Merlot, 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3.6% Cabernet Franc. Deep garnet-purple colored, it emerges from the glass with a first wave of stewed black and red plums, mulberries and black raspberries scents, followed by pronounced notions of warm cassis, clove oil, violets and chocolate box, with hints of cast-iron pan, pencil lead and forest floor coming through after a few minutes. The medium to full-bodied palate shimmers with energy, delivering layers of red and black fruits with earthy and mineral sparks and a texture so satiny you need to remember to look for it, finishing with amazing vibrancy. This is so wonderfully evocative and singular, and yet it feels like its holding something back. It makes for an impressive glass right now, but give it a good 5 years in bottle to allow further nuances to emerge and expect it to seriously reward those who can wait a good 12-15 years, when it should really hit its stride.
Enticing aromas of currant, crushed stone, blueberry, lead pencil, iodine and graphite follow through to a full body with round, chewy tannins that are polished and powerful, yet balanced and beautiful. In the end, the tannins are compact and tight at the finish. But you want to drink it. Try after 2027, when it will open.
Tasted blind at Southwold 2018. Deep ruby colour. Layered with ripe red and black fruit, together with evocative, earthy spices on the nose, this is bold and smoky. The palate shows better delineation of fruit, ripe yet tamed by grippy, ripe tannins. There is an elegance here despite the ripe nature of the fruit core - it builds in savoury tones and fleshes out through the mid palate. Finishing with a flourish, the expansiveness is very promising.
An extremely fine Mission, just beginning to say its piece. It's dense, gorgeously velvety in texture and bursting with fruit and energy. On the palate you get liquorice and dark chocolate notes, showing clear generosity while easily walking the line of balance. The longer it sits in the glass, the more the minerality takes hold on the mid-palate, doling out its tiny sparks of electricity and holding your attention. The subtle smoke, freshly cut herbs and tight tannins steal up on you, planting their flag in the finish. Harvested 10 September to 2 October, giving a 44hl/ha yield. 1% Petit Verdot completes the blend. IPT 75.8. The 3.76pH is the highest since 1989.
Drinking Window 2023 - 2032
Tasted blind. Fresh, non showy but classically styled. Some dark-chocolate notes together with a saline edge. Very long indeed. Leathery finish. 14.5%
Drink 2028 – 2050
Deepest crimson with very dark core. Intense, pure aromatic cassis and a hint of cassis leaf, though fully ripe. Smells very Cabernet. And the tannins are upright and structured but extremely lithe and supple. No thickness here. Agile. Just a little chewy on the finish. So seemingly approachable and full of energy.
Deep ruby-purple in the glass. Exotic and aromatic on the nose with smoked almonds, tobacco and blue fruits. The palate is tightly focused and precise, with very fine but plentiful tannins coating the mouth. The fruit is pure and ripe, with juicy cherries and hints of cassis. The exotic spice of oak is judicious and complements the riper elements of fruit, bringing savoury, smoky tones through the mid palate. The finish is fleshy and long, with a creamy, chocolate and vanilla edge to the black cherries that linger in the mouth.
(53.5 Merlot, 42.9 Cabernet Sauvignon, 4.4 Cabernet Franc) | 62% new oak | 14.2 – 14.4% alc | 76 IPT | Harvested between 10th September and 2nd October This is a blunt and tough La Mission with muscle and power and it is not showing much fruit, preferring to lead with skin tannin and oak notes. The dryness and intensity of the skin derived flavours are rather arresting and this dents the flow of the wine across the palate. There are slight coffee bean notes and some tobacco details here, but overall this is a square, monolithic wine which needs a lot of time and also some serious softening of the tannins to fall into balance.
A tight and linear red with fantastic oyster-shell, iodine and crushed-stone character, complementing the currants and blackberries. Extremely long and fresh.
The 2018 La Mission Haut-Brion is composed of 53.5% Merlot, 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3.6% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 10 to October 2. Deep purple-black in color, it slowly unfurls to reveal a beguiling nose of earth and soft-spoken fruit, opening with wild blueberries, wet slate, pencil lead and fresh black cherries giving way to a serious core of blackcurrant cordial, baked plums and wild sage, and then exposing delicate wafts of rose hip tea and candied violets. Full-bodied, the palate is very tightly wound and super intense with amazing restraint and energy focused around very firm, exquisitely fine-grained tannins and seamless freshness, finishing incredibly long and fantastically multilayered. Extraordinary wine.
The 2018 La Mission Haut-Brion checks in as 53.5% Merlot, 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Cabernet Franc that, like the La Chappelle de la Mission Haut-Brion, was harvested between September 10 and October 2. Straight up awesome notes of black raspberries, smoked earth, melted licorice, and tobacco all emerge from this deeply colored 2018, and it develops a beautiful violet and floral quality with time in the glass. Rich, full-bodied, and concentrated on the palate, with subtle background oak and sweet tannins, it's one sexy yet also seamless 2018 that does everything right.