La Mission Haut Brion is produced from 65% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc. Whilst most of the Pessac Leognan commune found it tough going for reds, the Jean-Philippe Delmas’ wines from La Mission and Haut Brion soar high above the rest. At first the La Mission is introspective and doesn't give much away. With coaxing one is greeted by an ethereal and complex bouquet of deep minerals, griotte liqueur, kirsch, roses and bright red cranberries. Waves of bitter sweet fruit cascade over the palate. There is wonderful intensity here - precise, refreshing cassis fruit and Sanguinello orange tantalize the mouth. There is such purity and refinement - this is a wine with real hidden depth that just keeps on giving, coating the gums with wonderful velvety tannins. It will be a very small production, but one you won't want to miss!
Haut Brion’s sister property has a habit of trumping its more illustrious sibling. Owned by Domaine Clarence Dillon S.A., La Mission’s vineyards lie in the same suburbs as those of Haut Brion on deep gravel croupes interspersed with clay. The cepage is not dissimilar in the red wine (48% Cabernet, 45% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc) although the Haut Brion Blanc (formally Laville Haut Brion) has a lot more Semillon in the blend than Haut Brion Blanc.
Stylistically, La Mission Haut Brion rouges is more accessible and open than the deeply mineral and slightly introverted Haut Brion when young, but given time the Haut Brion will begin to show its power. Both wines reward long term aging to be at their best.
The region has one first growth, Château Haut-Brion, whilst other renowned Chateaux currently doing well are La Mission-Haut-Brion, Pape-Clément, Smith-Haut-Lafitte and Haut-Bailly. Soils are gravely and well-drained and the plantations are similar in proportion to those of the Médoc, consisting mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The region is also well known for its long-lived whites that can be varying blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon oaked or unoaked. The most lauded are Domaine de Chevalier, Haut-Brion, Pape-Clement, De Fieuzal, and Laville-Haut-Brion.