2020 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux
The 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc has an intense nose of white flowers, Conference pear, broom and almost basalt-like aromas. It demands an hour to really show what it can do – nothing new there. The palate is beautifully balanced with fine acidity, delivering grapefruit, passion fruit, touches of sour lemon and an underlying salinity that upholds the requisite tension on the finish.
Very assured and classy, though perhaps the growing season denied it a soupçon of mineralité that would have elevated it to a bona fide great La Mission Blanc. As usual, it will require cellaring and ample decanting.
Drink 2028 - 2055
Neal Martin, Vinous.com (May 2021)
The 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc is pure seduction. Creamy and layered in the glass, the 2020 is elegance personified. Hints of spice and white flowers lead into apricot, white peach, mint and sage, all beautifully knit together. The 2020 balances freshness with textural intensity so sell. It's an absolutely gorgeous wine.
Drink 2030 - 2050
Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (June 2021)
Fragrant white flowers, touches of lime blossom and slate-filled citrus. The acidity is fresh, but this is more about texture, and it is extremely successful. Harvest from 19th to 28th August. The minerality, together with freshly cut rosemary and sage notes, is accentuated as it opens, which is an excellent indicator of how well this wine will age. Deft winemaking, as ever, proving why this is one of Bordeaux's best loved white wines. Tasted twice.
Drink 2022 - 2032
Jane Anson, Decanter.com (April 2021)
The 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc is a blend of 54.7% Sauvignon Blanc and 45.3% Semillon, harvested 19th to 28th August, with an estimated alcohol of 13.8%. The nose tingles with electric notes of lemon zest, orange blossoms and pink grapefruit, followed by hints of fresh ginger, elderflowers and crushed rocks, plus a waft of lime leaves. The medium-bodied palate quivers with intense, tightly wound citrus fruit layers, backed up by a racy backbone and finishing long and steely.
Drink 2023 - 2039
Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (May 2021)
Cask sample taken 13 April. 54.7% Sauvignon Blanc, 45.3% Sémillon picked 19 to 28 August. Estimated alcohol 13.8%. Very pale, low-key nose. Edgy and pungent with real freshness (more than Haut-Brion Blanc?). Sleek and dense with a certain smokiness and drive, but still pretty embryonic. Much less flashy and rich than this wine used to be. This promises well.
Drink 2024 - 2037
Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com (April 2021)
A vivid, really bright La Mission, showing strength and finesse at the same time. Honeysuckle, lime, lemon and other citrus fruit with stone and mineral undertones. 55% sauvignon and 45% semillon.
James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (April 2021)
Pale, cloudy; discreet nose, delicately ripe Sauvignon, but lacking a little Sauvignon Blanc vitality; full, broad, supple wine, with a moderate supporting acidity; dry, ample, mouthfilling, with a gentle raciness, a touch of warmth, and subtle oak-cedar aromas, and with fine aromatic length. But this is just lacking a bit in the excitement, scope, and definition it usually has. Refined and very attractive, of course, but not grand. Probably better drunk earlier rather than later.
Drink 2025 - 2035
Michael Schuster, The World of Fine Wine (May 2021)
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.
Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon
The blend used for White Graves and Sauternes and rarely encountered outside France. In the great dry whites of Graves, Sauvignon Blanc tends to predominate in the blend, although properties such as Smith Haut Lafite use 100% Sauvignon Blanc while others such as Laville Haut Brion have as much as 60% Sémillon in their final blends. Sauvignon Blanc wines can lose their freshness and fruit after a couple of years in bottle - if blended with Sémillon, then the latter bolsters the wine when the initial fruit from the Sauvignon fades. Ultimately Sauvignon Blanc gives the wine its aroma and raciness while Sémillon gives it backbone and longevity.
In Sauternes, Sémillon is dominant, with Sauvignon Blanc playing a supporting role - it is generally harvested about 10 days before Sémillon and the botrytis concentrates its sweetness and dampens Sauvignon Blanc`s naturally pungent aroma. It contributes acidity, zip and freshness to Sauternes and is an important component of the blend.