About this WINE
Chateau la Mission Haut-Brion
Château La Mission-Haut-Brion is the greatest Graves wine after Haut-Brion and in some vintages is considered the superior wine of the two. La Mission-Haut-Brion is situated just across the road from Haut-Brion in the commune of Talence in the southern suburbs of Bordeaux. Since 1983, both properties have been under the same ownership, Domaine Clarence Dillon S.A.
La Mission-Haut-Brion's vineyards (Cabernet Sauvignon 48%, Merlot 45%, Cabernet Franc 7%) lie on a large (up to 18 metres deep in places) gravel bank interspersed with clay. The wine is fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel vats and then matured in oak barriques (100% new) for 18 months. The wines of La Mission Haut Brion are rich, oaky and powerful and need at least 10 years of bottle ageing before they should be broached.
In 1986 a new communal district was created within Graves, in Bordeaux, based on the districts of Pessac and Léognan, the first of which lies within the suburbs of the city. Essentially this came about through pressure from Pessac-Léognan vignerons, who wished to disassociate themselves from growers with predominately sandy soils further south in Graves.
Pessac-Léognan has the best soils of the region, very similar to those of the Médoc, although the depth of gravel is more variable, and contains all the classed growths of the region. Some of its great names, including Ch. Haut-Brion, even sit serenely and resolutely in Bordeaux's southern urban sprawl.
The climate is milder than to the north of the city and the harvest can occur up to two weeks earlier. This gives the best wines a heady, rich and almost savoury character, laced with notes of tobacco, spice and leather. Further south, the soil is sandier with more clay, and the wines are lighter, fruity and suitable for earlier drinking.
The main grape for Sauternes and particularly successfully grown in Australia's Hunter Valley. Hunter Valley Sémillon is one of Australia’s iconic and unique wines, totally unlike any wine produced elsewhere in the world from the same grape variety.
In youth the wines are quite citrusy and fresh, but are generally perceived to gain hugely in complexity as they age and are deemed to be best drunk when at least 5 years old, frequently lasting for 10 or more years. Unusually for Australia, the alcohol levels rarely exceed 11.5%.
In Bordeaux it is the most widely planted white grape and is blended with Sauvignon Blanc to produce the great long-lived dry whites of Graves as well as the great sweet wines of Sauternes. It is high in alcohol and extract and relatively low in aroma and acidity. Its thin skin makes it very susceptible to botrytis which is prerequisite for the making of Sauternes. It responds well to oak ageing and, while having a lightly lemony aroma when young develops lanolin flavours which some describe as "waxy", as well as a rich, creamy, intense, texture and a deep golden colour.
Neal Martin - 31/03/2017
Jane Anson - decanter.com - Apr 2015