42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36.5% Merlot, 21.5% Cabernet Franc. Another stellar effort from the La Mission Haut-Brion team, this second wine is deeply coloured, and has the intense aromatics of ripe damsons. Grippy little tannins abundantly fill the palate, and the wine finishes with a long, savoury attitude. CP
The 2016 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion is a blend of 36.5% Merlot, 21.5% Cabernet Franc and 42% Cabernet Sauvignon picked from 19 September to 14 October. Matured in 23% new oak, it has a very succinct bouquet with tensile black cherry and pressed flower aromas, subtle at first but soon gaining intensity in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with crisp tannin, very precise and focused with razor-sharp definition. This is one of the most sophisticated La Chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion releases that I have tasted from barrel and it bodes well for the future. I expect this will nudge past the 2015 once in bottle. Let's see! Drink Date 2022 - 2040
Sumptuous first-growth suavity on the nose. Sinews and dry finish but a little austere. Just slightly muscular. Dry but not drying finish. Drink 2023-2033
Minerals and blueberries with plenty of blackcurrant character. Medium body and silky tannins. Pretty second wine of La Mission.
The 2016 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion is a striking second wine. Medium in body, but certainly not lacking in depth, the 2016 speaks to balance and feel above all else. Gravel and floral notes lead into a core of intense dark red cherry/raspberry fruit, licorice and dried flowers. There is wonderful depth and density here, but also a refreshing sense of grace.
The success of La Mission is even more impressive as this was not an easy vintage for the Haut-Brion stable. They are close to the city here, and things got hot on their gravel soils. It is one of the main reasons that alcohols are lower than in recent years, because various plots shut down and stopped accumulating sugar. Although yields were high at 52hl/ha, the extra volume was mostly put towards the third wine. They have performed an amazing sleight of hand here, as La Chapelle has plenty of the signature of its brilliant big brother. There is less persistency but still plenty of juicy, ripe fruits and a toasty edge to the aromatics that is a classic signature of the house. There is a gap between the two wines, perhaps more than in some other years, but it's a space where you would be very happy to sit and enjoy the view. From a blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36.5% Merlot and 21.5% Cabernet Franc, aged in 25% new oak. 3.6pH.
October This is a stunning La Chapelle with very expressive fruit and really sensual, open, floral tones. Beautifully aromatic and really inviting, this is a bouquet of a bouquet which is fascinating and enthralling. The tannins are really bright, punchy, fresh and clean and this lifts the whole wine to another level. This is a forward wine and it is stunning. It is unprecedented for me to award a Grand Vin and a Second wine the same score, but the two wines from La Mission are so different and so engaging that I cannot resist it in this vintage. I judge all wines on flavour and not on label or indeed whether they are first, second, third or last. In this instance this is one of my favourite, early-drinking wines of the vintage and it thoroughly warrants its massive score.
Made with 25% of the total production at La Mission in 2016, this is a subtle, serious, appealingly restrained wine with real finesse and poise. Savoury, fresh tobacco aromas segue into nuanced, sappy, dark berry fruit flavours and a patina of scented oak. 2022-30
Owned by the Dillon family since 1983, La Mission Haut Brion is without doubt one of the mostexceptional wines of Bordeaux. Across the road from Haut Brion, it regularly competes with its moreillustrious older sibling and has even outperformed Haut Brion in certain vintages, such as 2006 when Wine Spectator suggests that it "could be the wine of the vintage".
Stretching from the rather unglamorous southern suburbs of Bordeaux, for 50 km along the left bank of the river Garonne, lies Graves. Named for its gravelly soil, a relic of Ice Age glaciers, this is the birthplace of claret, despatched from the Middle Ages onwards from the nearby quayside to England in vast quantities. It can feel as though Bordeaux is just about red wines, but some sensational white wines are produced in this area from a blend of sauvignon blanc, Semillon and, occasionally, muscadelle grapes, often fermented and aged in barrel. In particular, Domaine de Chevalier is renowned for its superbly complex whites, which continue to develop in bottle over decades. A premium appellation, Pessac-Leognan, was created in 1987 for the most prestigious terroirs within Graves. These are soils with exceptional drainage, made up of gravel terraces built up in layers over many millennia, and consequently thrive in mediocre vintages but are less likely to perform well in hotter years. These wines were appraised and graded in their own classification system in 1953 and updated in 1959, but, like the 1855 classification system, this should be regarded with caution and the wines must absolutely be assessed on their own current merits.