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Tasted en primeur, the Château La Mission Haut-Brion white 2019 displays a pale yellow colour with shimmering green reflections. The first nose highlights the ripness of the fruit. Meanwhile, aeration reveals the personality of semillon through lime notes. From the attack on the palate, this wine floods the palate with a full-bodied and delicious texture. The palate is quite generous, while also offering a discreet and lively acidity, which brings a nice depth to this wine. The lingering finish is full of energy. Reminiscent of the sunny 2015 vintage, 2019 is undoubtedly in line with the greatest vintages at Château La Mission Haut-Brion. This rare and exceptional white wine, sought after by wine lovers around the world and produced in very limited quantities, reflects the essence of the property, transcribing the true nature of Semillon in a wine that will continue to evolve in the bottle for years to come.
Formerly named Château Laville Haut-Brion, Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc is produced in such extremely limited quantities that it is confined to the initiated. Its make-up almost 85% of Semillon, 14% Sauvignon Blanc and a pinch of Muscadelle ? also makes it unique. When young it possesses the characteristics of a premier Gewurztraminer. With time it trades its Alsatian color for the amber of the great Sauterne wines. Then this dry white wine expresses all the particular traits of a great syrupy Graves wine that are specific to the Semillon grown in famous terroirs.
Surface area planted: 2.55 hectares (6.30 acres)
Planted grape varieties: 85% Sémillon, 14% Sauvignon Blanc, 1% Muscadelle
Fermentation in oak casks
Length of initial maturing period in oak casks: 9-12 months in 40-50% new wood
Average production: 500 to 700 cases
Sought after by wine lovers the world over, Château La Mission Haut-Brion white is extremely rare (400 cases per vintage). Formerly named Château Laville Haut-Brion, the Château La Mission Haut-Brion white is a wine for connoisseurs.
This wine is a beautiful pale yellow in color with glints of green. The first nose of this wine is marked by the beautiful maturity of fruit that is ripe without heaviness. When swirled in the glass, the Sémillon dominates, accompanied by notes of lime. The first expression is broad and flavorful, leading into a more complex fullness, balanced by a discreet but highly effective acidity, with a surprisingly long finish. This La Mission vintage will continue to improve with a few years of ageing.
With its perfectly ripe Sémillons, 2019 is the model of a La Mission Blanc in its prime, combining the sun-drenched character of 2015 with a very nice freshness.
Combining freshness and significant heat, 2019 will be remembered for its major climatic contrasts. The summer brought several heatwaves which did not, however, lead to water stress in the vines or blockage of the ripening process. Rainy days in September made it possible for the grapes to become perfectly ripe in time for the harvest. The harvest began on August 29 for the whites and on September 10 for the reds.
BORDEAUX 2019 VINTAGE
When I was visiting Bordeaux early March, Corona was a threat on the horizon and France has been more concerned by a strike of the air traffic control. However, I was travelling to Bordeaux and had the chance to get some first insights to the 2019 vintage. I was very much looking forward to the “en primeur tastings” which were scheduled for March 26, 2020 but the tastings were cancelled mid-March. Immediately I contacted the different associations and wineries in Bordeaux and asked for samples.
The result was a small number of wines which arrived in Essen before the shutdown of France made shipments rather difficult. These first samples of the vintage 2019 were tasted under pristine conditions to assure a fair and equal assessment of all qualities. In fact, the samples proved right the opinion of some of Bordeaux’ leading figures. Bruno-Eugène Borie from Château Ducru-Beaucaillou sees 2019 in a line with the excellent vintages of 2016, 2010, 2009 und 2005.
Henri Lurton talks about his best vintage, along with 2016, he has ever vinified at Château Brane-Cantenac. Philippe Dhalluin from Château Mouton-Rothschild asses the vintage as rich and abundant in quality and also in quantity. After some smaller crops they came back to an average production.
Emmanuel Cruse from Château d’Issan sees that 2019 has a lot in common with 2016 yet preserving more freshness. It is a very good vintage but appearing at a very difficult time on the market. In fact, the start of this vintage was very positive. Enough precipitations during winter were retained by soils like chalk and clay. Vineyards on these water retaining soils had a huge advantage in the future growing period. With exception of a wet June, the vintage has taken advantage of a rather dry climatic condition, which prevented diseases in the vineyards to a huge extend. No chance for powdery or downy mildew. Even the heat waves were not really harming the vines as rain set in, always at the last moment but still early enough to prevent massive water stress and a slow-down of the maturity. The late physiological maturity brought a lot of alcohol, but the wines show more freshness as in the previous years.
Fabien Teitgen, Winemaker of Smith-Haut-Lafitte relates this freshness to the good acidity “due to cool night temperatures during the ripening period”. This fact is also good news for white wines. „They are the big surprise “, says Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier.
At Château Coutet in Barsac, Philippe and Aline Baly were harvesting in three passes with a total of 19 harvesting days. They judge the conditions as rather ideal: “These climatic conditions have generated a harvest whose quality is indisputably present.” Same samples made their way to Essen and I have tasted them. Some more samples are announced and will hopefully arrive during the current week. There will be a weekly update of my tasting notes, whenever samples will arrive.
Unfortunately, 2019 arrives in a difficult time, the Corona virus puts the world in fear and makes trade more and more difficult. Trade berries and new customs duties create a difficult frame for this vintage. However, we should not forget one thing: there are wonderful 2019s waiting for us, wines with ageing potential and charm which will survive every crisis.