The 2014 La Mission Haut Brion is produced from 54% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. We are huge fans of La Mission - it is normally on a par with neighbour Haut Brion in terms of quality and the same is true this year. Stylistically it is currently displaying a purer, more Cabernet fruit style than the more mineral Haut Brion, but whichever wine you pick, they are both sensational. Initially brooding, however after aeration, beautifully delineated flavours of crème de cassis, crushed stones, sweet plums, blueberries, sandalwood and noble wood spice notes emerge. This is true La Mission with underlying gravel notes from start to finish. The palate is awash with gorgeous black fruit; firm and precise but not too strict - there is still a generosity to the cassis and graphite ladened fruit. This is very serious and long with a lithe, agile style.
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.