Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2020
• Domaine: Château La Mission Haut-Brion
• Appellation: Pessac-Leognan
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
Château La Mission Haut-Brion is considered by Robert Parker to be one of the best wines from Pessac-Léognan in terms of quality and consistency. This dense, tannic, and concentrated wine expresses itself beautifully, but it demands time in the cellar in order to reach its fullest potential. It would be impossible to discuss this producer without touching briefly upon its neighbor across the street, the esteemed First Growth Château Haut-Brion. Though there used to be a bit of a rivalry between these two illustrious estates, the tension has cooled down throughout the ages, and both are recognized as incredible expressions of Pessac-Léognan terroir within their own right. For the oenophile who loves a wine with power, intensity, concentration, and structure – Château La Mission Haut-Brion is an excellent choice.
Château La Mission Haut-Brion has a long history that dates to the 16th Century. The property was purchased by Jean de Pontac in 1533. Jean de Pontac was a well-known figure in the wine industry, owning some of the best estates in Bordeaux. He would later go on to own Château Haut-Brion as well. In 1607 the property changed hands to Olive de Lestonnac, a young widow who would manage the property. Eventually, she gave the property to the Congregate of the Mission, and that is when the estate received its moniker, “La Mission Haut-Brion.” A chapel was built in the vineyards, and it was known as Notre Dame de La Mission. The estate remained in the hands of the Roman Church until it was possessed by the French Government during the French Revolution. It was subsequently sold at public auction to the Chiapelle family who ended up managing Cos d’Estournel.
During the time of the 1855 Classification, La Mission Haut-Brion was selling wine priced similarly if not more expensive than the Second Growths in Bordeaux. The estate was not classified in 1855 as Château Haut-Brion was the only property within the Graves region with that privilege. This would change when Château La Mission Haut-Brion was classified during the Graves Classification in 1953. The estate changed hands several times until it was acquired by Domaine Clarence Dillon, the owners of Château Haut-Brion. Once Domaine Clarence Dillon took over operations of the estate, a massive renovation was completed both within the vineyards and at the estate. The wines have never been better.
Château La Mission Haut-Brion is situated on a deep gravel bed, which is typical of the region. Here, plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon thrive in the soils with excellent drainage. Château La Mission Haut-Brion vinifies their wines in stainless steel prior to ageing them in new French oak for 22 months. Their white wine, Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc is considered one of the finest expressions of White Bordeaux in all of Pessac-Léognan. The wine of La Mission Haut-Brion is opulent and full-bodied, requiring several years in bottle to reach its peak expression, though we can assure you it is very much worth the wait.
"Composed of 48.6% Merlot, 43.2% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8.2% Cabernet Franc, harvested from 7th to 29th September, the 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion has an alcohol of 14.7%. It needs considerable swirling and coaxing to reveal slowly emerging scents of freshly crushed blackcurrants, Morello cherries, wild blueberries and forest floor, leading to suggestions of violets, baker's chocolate and cardamom with wafts of dusty soil and oolong tea. The medium to full-bodied palate bursts with impactful, fresh red, black and blue fruit layers, supported by impressive freshness and fantastically ripe, fine-grained tannins, finishing very long and fragrant. A stunning expression of this vintage!" Lisa Perotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate, May 2021 Week 3: The Wine Advocate (05/20/2021) Rating: 97-99, Drink: 2027-2065
"Another sensational wine, the 2020 Château La Mission Haut-Brion boasts a deep ruby/purple color to go with a rocking perfume of ripe black cherries, tobacco, damp earth, chocolate, and exotic spices. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and concentrated, it has a ripe, expansive texture, building tannins, and just an opulent texture. The vintage doesn't get any sexier than this beauty." Jeb Dunnuck, Bordeaux 2020: En Primeur- Part 1 (05/23/2021) Rating: 96-98
"A kick of black fruit and confident spice right from the first nose, this is an intense and concentrated La Mission, tightly in control, not letting up from beginning to end. The pencil lead and bitter dark chocolate is layered in between the cassis notes in a way that makes you see the Cabernet influence although this is majority Merlot (once again - this is a character of the year, low yields of Cabernet mean Merlot is more featured in the blend than usual; but the intensity of the Cabernets mean that it still has an outsized influence on flavour profile). Grilled coffee beans overtake on the close of play, this is seductive and switches beautifully between the tannins pressing in on the palate and the juice expanding things outwards. This is the wine to go for in the Domaines Clarence Dillon stable this year. Harvest from 7th to 29th September." Jane Anson, Decanter, Best Pessac-Léognan 2020 Wines Tasted En Primeur (04/30/2021) Rating: 98
"The 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion is a gorgeous, elegant wine. Silky and pliant, La Mission is all finesse. Fine tannins lend energy as the 2020 gradually opens with some coaxing. Today, the flavors are remarkably primary, and yet the 2020 is so persistent, so elegant. Hints of cedar, tobacco, gravel and dried herbs add aromatic complexity, but the 2020 is a mere infant. I can't wait to watch it grow up. There is a bit of new oak that needs to integrate, but nothing élevage can't take care of." Antonio Galloni, Vinous (June, 2021) Rating: 96-98
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