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A CUT ABOVEChâteau La Mission Haut-Brion launches the ultimate wine box at Harrods

Harrods has teamed up with one of Bordeaux’s most renowned châteaux to create the limited edition La Mission Haut-Brion “A Cut Above” for the ultimate wine dinner. Each of these six handcrafted cases (£5,000, available from Friday 25 November) comprises four of the estate’s most celebrated vintages – reds from 1982, 1989 and 2000, and a white from 2009 – as well as a set of 12 knives that sport handles made from the château’s own barrel staves: six from a red wine barrel and six from a white one.

The cases were designed and created by Technew, a Swiss workshop better known for producing boxes to house fine jewellery and watches, and the knives are the work of Artisan Coutelier, a French knifemaker that handcrafts fine cutlery. Each case comes with a signed letter from Prince Robert of Luxembourg, president and CEO of La Mission Haut-Brion’s owner Domaine Clarence Dillon – what it says therein, only your dinner guests will ever know.  


The launch of La Mission Haut-Brion “A Cut Above” follows the announcement that Harrods will be relocating its prestigious wine store from its home in the 650sq m basement to make way for a 250-seat restaurant. Harrods reassures that the Wine Room will continue in another form, although its new location in the building has yet to be revealed.

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As the wines of Bordeaux were classified in 1855 only one château outside Médoc was included, the premier cru Château Haut Brion from Graves.

They were classified into five groups or cru's ranged according to the prices they fetched. It has since been a favourite pasttime of most wine experts to suggest alterations to the original 1855 classification. Château La Mission Haut Brion which was not included in this list can be said to be the first "supersecond" château. It has not quite reached the status and the price of the premier crus, but being in a class of its own above those of the second crus of Médoc. 


The property was donated in 1664 to a religious congregation founded by Saint Vincent de Paul – the Lazaristes or the Prêcheurs de la Mission. It was confiscated by the state during the french revolution and then sold in 1792. The ownership changed several times until the Woltner family bought it in 1919. It was the Woltners and particularly Henri Woltner who built up its reputation to where it stands today. It remained in their family until 1983, when it was bought by the owners of its illustrious neighbour, Château Haut Brion. La Mission Haut Brion had been the only real competition to Haut Brion as the best wine of Graves for decades and many wine lovers around the world had feared that the distinct difference in character of the two neighbours would disappear as it was now being made by one and the same winemaker, the brilliant Jean-Bernard Delmas. These fears have fortunately proved to be unfounded with both wines continuing being among the very greatest in the world, but still very distinct and different in style.


What makes the wines so different? Both are joining each other in a part of Graves, which at the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, before the Médoc vineyards became popular, was the centre of bordelais winemaking. Most other vineyards in this part of Graves are long gone and the vineyards of La Mission and Haut Brion are now surrounded by highrise office buildings and housing estates within the the expanding city of Bordeaux itself. The soil is similar to that of Haut Brion, as is the proportion of the grape varieties. Both contain roughly 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. 40% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. The difference is mainly to be found in the way the wine is made once the grapes reach their respective cellars. La Mission was pioneering wine making in the 1920s by introducing glasslined metal fermentation tanks. These were more hygienic and easier to clean than the traditional wooden vats, but the biggest advantage was the ability to cool the vats during the fermentation by running cold water on their outside. Too warm fermentation temperatures could kill off the yeast before fermentation was finished, and there was then an increased risk of bacteria converting the residual sugar into vinegar leading to volatile acidity. The practised method of lowering the fermentation temperatures at this time was to add sacks with ice to the must, thereby cooling but also diluting the wine. By fermenting at lower temperatures important aroma products were retained in the wine and the wine could be kept on the lees for a longer time, giving a wine with deeper colour and more extract. 

by Tb

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The wines are traditionally more tannic and austere when young, and they demand more patience before the wine starts to get rounded at the edges than those of Haut Brion. When tasting the wines of Haut Brion and La Mission next to each other it is a difference in style rather than quality that determines which wine the taster prefers. I personally have found this to vary from vintage to vintage and from time to time depending on which mood I'm in. The wines from La Mission are generally speaking more powerful and show more upfront concentrated fruit and tannins than Haut Brion, whose wines are among the most elegant and complex wines in the world.


In short it can be said that, similar to the wines of Château Latour, they are deep coloured, showing concentrated, majestic fruit combined with a firm backbone of tannin and structure. Another similarity to the wines of Château Latour is a reputation for producing wines of good quality and ageability in difficult vintages.


Also included in the sale to the Dillons was Château La Tour Haut Brion. This was for many years used as a second wine of La Mission Haut Brion, that usually meant that the best wine from the two properties was bottled as La Mission Haut Brion and the wine that was not quite up to this standard was bottled as La Tour Haut Brion. This changed and La Tour Haut Brion was again a property in its own right up until the 2005 vintage when it was incorporated into Château La Mission Haut Brion and ceased to exist. The second wine of La Mission Haut Brion is now called La Chapelle de la Mission and is a great buy, particularly in good vintages.

One of the best and most expensive white wines of the Bordeaux region is also produced by La Mission , for many years known as Château Laville Haut Brion and recently renamed Château La Mission Haut Brion Blanc.

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La Mission Vintages:


2003 has sweet fruit but ages at an alarming rate like almost all 2003s.

2001 is a very good wine from an underrated vintage.

2000 is a giant of a wine. Great concentration and soft tannins. Needs time.

1999 is a charming wine that should be drunk soon.

1998 is still quite tannic but with good fruit.

1997 is quite disappointing with green unripe tannins.

1996 and 1995 are still tannic but will surely become classic Missions with age.

1991 to 1994 are very good examples from these difficult vintages showing how well La Mission does when the conditions are far from ideal. All drinking very well now.

1990 has good silky fruit and soft tannins. Already lovely, but with a great future.

1989 was marked by a very hot, dry summer and the earliest harvest since 1893. Very concentrated roasted fruit and a spectacular wine. Needs a few more years.

The 1988 is very good with ripe and sweet fruit supporting the tannic structure.

The 1987 is fairly good for the vintage.

The 1986 has great concentration of fruit but is also very tannic still. The question here is if the tannins won’t outlast the fruit.

1985 La Mission shows more elegance and balance and is lovely now.

We have always thought that the 1983 La Mission is one of the best wines of this underrated vintage and it is perfect now.

The magnificent 1982 has understandably never been underrated, it is a glorious wine now starting to reach maturity. This should drink well for at least another 30 years.

The 1981 and 1979 are still drinking very well.

La Mission made one of the very few wines in 1978 that still has some future left and is for me the wine of the vintage.

1976 needs drinking up, but is still good for the vintage.

The 1975 is getting to become a legend. Enormously concentrated and powerful with none of the hard tannins so typical of his vintage. Fantastic wine but not really typical in style of a Graves.

The 1974 is the best wine of this vintage and one of the few that still gives pleasure.

1973 is a sweet and delicate wine.

The 1971 and 1970 are both very elegant and stylish wines now fully mature.

To smell the 1966 is like stepping in to a viennese coffehouse and is absolutely lovely now as is the fabulous 1964 (1964 was a much better vintage in Graves than for most parts of Médoc). The 1962 is also very good.

The 1961 is a monumental wine with great concentration of fruit and this will drink well forever.

The 1959 is one of the favourite vintage from La Mission and it has been giving pleasure for a long time and will continue to do so for some time to come. A perfect wine!

Two wines from "minor" vintages that show amazing class and youth are the 1958 and 1950 La Missions.

Beautiful wines were made in 1952, 1953 and 1955 and they are still giving great joy if stored well.

The price for the greatest wine during the 1940s will be fought out between the lovely 1949 and the majestic 1945, we tend to cast our vote for the near perfect 1949.. Also great are the 1947 and the 1948 which are still showing great fruit and style.

The 1934 La Mission is a beautiful wine as is the 1935.

The 1928 La Mission has been showing itself to be a great wine on several occasions.

199, 1896 and 1895 are both delicate wines that still can give pleasure, in particular the 1896

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3 different wines with 92 vintages


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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Doug Hill / Wine Importer, Pro (Canada)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  10 wines 

My TOP 10 Bordeaux 2016 vintage wines!

12d 39min ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Pro (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  13 wines 

My TOP Bordeaux from 2010 vintage / Deep ruby in colour, the Lafite has wonderful aromatics, with a gorgeous perfume of violets, cedar, cassis and blackberries. With its velvety tannins and layered, delicate flavours, there is a succulent juicy character to its fruit profile, accented with hints of violet. It is a gorgeous wine that is filled with delicate layers of flavours and at the same time is not heavy or dense. This is clearly a very successful vintage for Lafite in both style and intensity, producing a wine that will outlive the outstanding 2009. 100 points

1m 2d ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Pro (China)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  11 wines 

Petrus 2009 / 100 points / If a wine's aroma can be sexy, then this is it: Vibrant mixed spices, sweet, ripe plums, blackberries and violets. The wine has amazing density and richness with Petrus' signature layers of flavours including hint of game, anise and exotic Asian spices that go on and on. This is an intoxicating wine that will be a hedonists' delight in its youth or after decades of aging.

1m 20d ago

 Nathan Long, Wine Dealer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  13 wines 

1982 was without question one of the great vintages and from a financial viewpoint the most important year in the 20th century for Bordeaux: the vintage brought wines of superb class in not small quantities. The growing season progressed ideally. An early flowering was followed by a hot and dry summer. The resulting wines are meaty and possess powerful tannin structure.

1m 21d ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  23 wines 

Last evening was a real " Voyage autour du monde" along with the top 24 wines that wine countries can offer, and there was only four of us enjoying them...Unfortunately, quite a lot of bottles remained half empty, but not the Petrus 2003, Cheval Blanc 1947, Screaming Eagle 1999, Pingus 1995, Haut-Brion Blanc 1995, Lafleur 1996 etc.

1m 26d ago

 Andrew Caillard MW, Wine Writer (Australia)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  126 wines 

Every now and again one stumbles across a paradox that confounds the accepted natural order of things. The 2016 Bordeaux vintage was born out of a growing season that was near-catastrophe and near-perfection. After the Hesperian Dragon’s relentless torment, the Titan God Atlas had seemingly kept the sky aloft with the help of a Phoenix. Following five months of diabolical weather patterns, a warm to hot dry summer arrived in the nick of time, not only saving a vintage, but creating one of the most spectacular vintages in a lifetime.

 The sense of relief in Bordeaux must have been as thrilling as avoiding the bullet of Russian Roulette, or the adrenalin of surviving a base-jump. The razor’s edge has never been so exquisitely fine. While the end result is not always perfect, with the odd abrasions here and there, the overall quality of the 2016 Bordeaux vintage is remarkably consistent with many Chateaux making some of their best wines in 50 years. Typically, the wines have deep colours, pure fruit aromatics, generous saturated flavours, dense rich tannin structures and bell clear acidities. Precision, freshness, elegance, smoothness and “delicate opulence” are words that are being used by various Chateaux to describe their wines.

 The Bordelais are, of course, the world’s greatest spin doctors. They leave snake charmers for dead when it comes to the art of mesmerising. The newly opened and impressive Cité du Vin, which sits on the banks of the Garonne River in Bordeaux, sparkles like a polished turd; a monument to the exaggerations and optimism of this particular type of fine wine game. Momentum is achieved through belief. There is no room for wavering or self-doubt.

2m 4d ago

 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  161 wines 

Bordeaux 2016 vintage!

2m 5d ago

 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  75 wines 

In 2016 Pauillac has made some excellent wines and on the top, Mouton has made something very special and might be wine of the vintage competing with Petrus. Lots of estate has made excellent wines from Pauillac this year. Saint-Estephe has also made stunning wines and Cos d'Estournel has made one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted from them. Northern Médoc is far better in 2016 than in 2015, but for me, 2016 on a whole delivers more. 2015 for me eas a bit hyped even if the wines were very good indeed. 2016 probably has the edge over 2011 as well that is seriously undervalued in the market, but will give many some surprises for the future.

2m 6d ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Pro (China)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  30 wines 

My TOP 30 wines of the Bordeaux 2016 vintage.

2m 7d ago

 Markus Del Monego MW / Best Sommelier in the World 1998, MW (Germany)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  272 wines 

BORDEAUX VINTAGE 2016 / Tasting "en primeur" is a challenge every year. The wines tasted are showing a tendency only and it is still the beginning of a longer process of evolution and maturation in the barrels. There might be some changes during the next year and a half until the wines will be bottled, but already today the tendency is quite clear. For most of the red wines it will be an outstanding vintage, a vintage for Cabernet, old vines, limestone and clay soil. It was a challenging year for the vintners. An incredibly wet spring was worrying the winegrowers and at the beginning of June, the spirits were down. However warm and dry weather between June 3 and June 11 creating an close to ideal situation for the flowering and good weather conditions starting in mid June changed the nature of the vintage. The fine weather continued into July and August. The month of August was featuring hot weather and a remarkable amount of sunshine but the absence of rain let to water stress. Heavy rain in mid September set an end to water stress and when the sun returned on September 20 the vintage was saved as there was excellent weather till to the end of the harvest. The effects were various. the white wines are on a good quality level and display fruit and flavour but the acidity is lower than in previous vintages and the white wines show an opulent and rather soft style. The noble sweet wines are extremely pure and are more on the rich and powerful side than on the freshness. For the red wines originating from the right terroirs and old vines, the vintage an be called outstanding. Water stress was managed well on limestone and clay terroirs, Cabernet varieties did extremely well and old vines found water even during the stressful dry periods of summer. In some few red wines the tannins are slightly harsh, almost bitter, a result of water stress and/or intense extraction. In general the red wines are on an excellent level with an advantage for the left bank, mainly the Médoc area, and the classic great terroirs of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. 

2m 10d ago

 Omar Khan, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  8 wines 

Mouton Rothschild 1949 / A wine-making tour-de-force that caught by surprise in terms of the thrilling grandeur of the wine. Some Mouton mint, coffee and cassis abound on the stellar bouquet. There is such a thrilling vein of acidity to this wine, which as with the best 49’s, takes some of the ’47 richness and some of the ’45 concentration and intertwines elements of both with surpassing elegance, sophistication and aplomb. You have cassis, herbs, mocha and cinnamon all contributing to the fanfare at and past the mid palate. The tannins are soft but evident, so becomingly modest yet so assured. The layers of rich, round, vivid, vital flavors, the apogee of a great era, leave you bliss filled and transfixed. Plums, flowers and earth all alluringly come together on a long, almost lascivious finish. This is just magnificence. 100 Points

2m 21d ago

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