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News

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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History

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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Vineyards

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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Winemaking

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 113 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

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

 Mario Sculatti / Sleeping Lady Vineyard, Wine Maker (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  19 wines 

Tasting wines from 1980's like Sassicaia 1985, Mouton 1985, Hill of Grace 1989, Opus One 1984 etc.

1h 10min ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  47 wines 

Domaine Etienne Sauzet Montrachet Grand Cru 2017
Incredible intensity and depth in this Montrachet in 2017. Focused, complex with layers of toasted nuts, white flowers and lots of minerals. Wonderful example of this grand cru vineyard. The wine stands out as clearly the most complex and intense from Sauzet. From 50-60 year old vines; only 4 barrels made.


99 points

24d 17h ago

 Julia Harding MW, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  27 wines 

Telmo Rodríguez Lanzaga 2009 / Bushvine Tempranillo, Graciano and Garnacha from the village of Lanciego. Planted at 500-600 m on a sandstone plateau. Flat shallow soils, stony, calcareous and silty textured. Low fertility and low water retention capacity. Some fruit from own biodynamically farmed vineyard, some bought in. 40,000 bottles. Fermented with native yeasts in cement tanks, matured 14 months in big oak casks and smaller barrels. Bottled June 2012.
Intensely dark crimson with black core. Smells immediately sweeter and riper and more intense than the LZ, with some oak sweetness. Very dark fruited and more spice too. Even with that extra fruit intensity there is still a graphite/mineral dimension. On the palate, the tannins are dense but somehow silky at the same time, giving a wonderfully dry finish, the same effect as 70% dark chocolate but with a different flavour. Still pretty closed up on the palate, dark and savoury and firmly mineral. Super-dry, long finish. So much more to come. Stunning wine. A little more luscious than the 2010 Alto Lanzaga. (JH)

1m 27d ago

 Stephen Tanzer, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  18 wines 

Petrus 1961 / Deep red-ruby color with an amber edge. Utterly singular perfumed, high-pitched aromas of loganberry, cherry and flowers. An awesomely concentrated wine of huge power and depth. Chewy with extract and wonderfully sweet and rich. Shows the strong iron note I often get from merlot on the Pomerol plateau, along with superripe suggestions of cherry liqueur and dark chocolate. Finishes with great grip and length, and a bit less sweetness than the middle palate would suggest. Drink now through 2020.

2m 27d ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Opus One 2008 / Deep ruby, youthful, cassis, coffee, blueberries. Softer texture, feels very elegant even as it is so young, fresh acidity, ripe tannins, balanced, long length. 94

8m 22d ago

 James Suckling., Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  25 wines 

Masseto 2012 / Fantastic aromas of lavender, rosemary, violets and currants. Full body, a wonderful concentration of fruit yet tense and taunt energy. The new wood is exposed now but will become integrated and polished. Give it three or four years together. The pure merlot magic is there. The 2011 was a perfect wine, and this is very close indeed. Drink in 2019. 99 points

11m 9d ago

 Jeff Leve, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Bordeaux has been on a hot roll lately. Think about it. 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2018 and who knows, even though it is early, 2019 is also looking good!
Each vintage has its own mark, its individual sense of identity and uniqueness of character. 2016 Bordeaux is such a great vintage!  Consider this. Out of all those above-named vintages, there are 2016 wines better than you find in any of those years. And that is really saying something!
In 2016, like in all great years, every appellation produced beautiful wines, and each has its own stars. You can find fabulous wines on both banks and in all price ranges. The Petit Chateaux are superb. Right Bank wines are gorgeous and some of the best wines from the Medoc are potentially the best-ever from their respective vineyards.
2016 has it all. The wines combine concentration of flavor, purity of fruit, zesty acidity, ripe tannins, power, elegance, refinement and richness. The aromatics are complex, and the length and mouthfeel go on and on. The best wines offer the ability to age and evolve for decades!
2016 is the most recent bottled vintage in Bordeaux. The wines are currently available to consumers. If you are seeking to enjoy the best of the best, this article is for you.
During both tasting trips to Bordeaux this year, I tasted close to 500 recently bottled 2016 wines. These are the top 25 wines of the vintage.

1y 4d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  23 wines 

1971 Bordeaux vertical tasting - 1971 vintage in Bordeaux followed after highly acclaimed 1970 vintage. Spring was rather cold and damp. Good sunny and warm weather arrived in June and stayed until harvest was finished. Small yields compared with big harvest in 1970. Wines on Right Bank did better than in 1970, while Left Bank did more or less opposite thing.
Generally, wines tasted below (except white D.D.Chevalier) did very well despite age certificate saying 48 years old, with some real surprises. Several wines have still at least 10 years more of eventful life.
Tasting was semi-blind, meaning we didn’t know in which order wines showed up in flights and there were 3 additional wines served blind (Giscours, Charmes Chambertin and Filhot).  Tasting started with white D.d.Chevalier 1971.It had a touch of madeira over it, otherwise it tasted OK. Quick consumption strongly recommended! 86p.

1y 22d ago

 James Suckling., Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château La Mission Haut-Brion . In a tasting of  20 wines 

Krug Vintage 2002 / 100 points / The much-anticipated 2002 has impeccable detail and depth with a lot of chalky, stony and flinty elements on the nose as well as a very fresh edge. The nose is very complex and wound up tight but presents itself as very integrated and compressed. There are aromas of lemon rind, lime juice and a lime custard all at once, complemented in turn by a super-restrained hazelnut-like edge. Undertones of brown mushrooms, chalky minerals and lemon leaf. The palate has a core of sizzlingly intense, concentrated chardonnay framed whitin a powerful phenolic structure that will underpin the future of this Champagne. Flawlessly fresh and as perfect as it gets. Give this time as it needs to settle: best from 2020 and then for another decade beyond.

1y 1m ago

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