CHÂTEAU LA MISSION HAUT BRION
2006 Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan
59% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc. 14.3°. Fabulous scent on the nose, great purity, slight sweetness of expression, dry, driven, lively and expansive. Lots of layers, really fine damson and sloe flavours, both impressively big and totally fine. Real succulence to the finish. Total harmony. Rating: 95 L&S (Apr 2007)
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The 2006 Château La Mission Haut-Brion has a very attractive, captivating bouquet: red berry fruit, warm gravel, Hoisin and a pinch of truffle all beautifully conveyed. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin that lend this La Mission such symmetry and detail. It is not a powerful wine, never pressing its foot down hard on the accelerator, but that is one of it strengths, and those black truffle and mineral notes surfacing towards the poised finish are entrancing. Classic from start to finish, the only facet that is missing is that peacock's tail on the finish. Tasted January 2016. Drinking range: 2018 - 2038 Rating: 94 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (May 2016)
There is a leaner but elegant feel to the nose; concentrated fruit does come through on the palate with a fleshy ripeness at the start. The mineral streak lightens the flavours and gives a fresh feel to the finish. 2015-30 Rating: 89-92 Derek Smedley MW, www.dereksmedleymw.co.uk (Dec 2013)
Bright red-ruby. Redcurrant, cherry, iron, brown spices and licorice on the nose. Begins lush, full and generous if not overly sweet, then tightens up with air, showing its rather powerful underlying structure. This sharply delineated wine will need a good seven or eight years in bottle to reveal itself. Rating: 92 Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar (Jul 2010)
Château la Mission Haut Brion
Surrounded by the urban sprawl of Bordeaux, facing each other across the street are Châteaus Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion. In the 16th Century Arnaut de Roustaing, who had bought what is today La Mission, married Marie de Pontac, sister of Haut Brion owner Jean de Pontac, but, despite being immediate neighbours, this is as close as the two estates got to common history until the modern era. The "Haut Brion" portion of the name appears to, simply, to be a little commercial plagiarisation of the sort that Haut Brion has suffered more than most. Arnaut's grand-daughter left the estate to the Congregation of the Mission in 1654, who built a small chapel in the vineyards called Notre Dame de la Mission. Church ownership seems to have been good for La Mission Haut Brion and the fame of the wines grew. Cardinal Richelieu appears to have been a fan. But Chuch ownership could not survive the French Revolution and the various private owners that followed oversaw a fall in quality and reputation. The modern history, and revival of La Mission Haut Brion, dates from 1919 when Frédéric Woltner bought the estate. Together with his sons, he revitalised La Mission, installing the, then, cutting edge technology of temperature-controlled fermentation and restructuring the vineyards. The next generation of Woltners, however, fell into discord and sold La Mission Haut Brion to Domaine Clarence Dillon SA, owners of Château Haut Brion in 1983, bringing the two neighbours under the same ownership. Since then, La Mission Haut Brion has grown considerably in reputation and ranks among the best château, not only in Pessac-Léognan, but in Bordeaux as a whole. There are 21ha of vines, planted to 45% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with the balance being Cabernet Franc. Red wines are aged in 100% new oak for just under 2 years. If remembering the differences between Haut Brion proper and La Mission Haut Brion wasn't enough, the two estates are also responsible for a confusing array of other "Haut Brions". The Woltner family were bequeathed Château La Tour Haut Brion in 1933 and this was produced as seperate wine by La Mission until the 2005 vintage, since when the grapes from La Tour Haut Brion have been used in the blend for La Chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion, La Mission's second wine. The Woltners also purchased the near-by property of Château Laville Haut Brion and produced a very successful white wine there. This has now been re-named Château la Mission Haut Brion Blanc. Châteaus Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion also produce a joint white second wine called La Clarté de Haut Brion.
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