The 2021 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc has a much more nuanced bouquet than the Haut-Brion Blanc this year with scents of Japanese yuzu, crushed stone, apple blossom and a touch of elderflower. The palate is very well balanced with a fine line of acidity, taut and fresh, vibrant and focused. This is more linear than the Haut-Brion and stricter, yet the precision on the finish is a wonder to behold. Fabulous.
Drink 2027 - 2060
Neal Martin, vinous.com, (May 2022)
This is fleshy and thrilling, with white apricot, slate, gunsmoke and mandarin zest. Good structure also, pretty closed right now, with touches of reduction and a juicy mouthwatering finish. Lower Sémillon than usual, meaning lees stirring to fill out the flesh in the mid palate. Higher alcohol in this white than in the reds, very unusual.
Drink 2024 - 2038
Jane Anson, janeanson.com (May 2022)
Aromas of crisp orchard fruit, grapefruit oil, white flowers, pastry cream and freshly baked bread preface the 2021 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, a medium to full-bodied, ample and incisive wine that's satiny and chiseled, concluding with a long, mineral finish.
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (Apr 2022)
Brisk and precise but more restrained than the Haut-Brion. Long, linear and racy on the palate. Great persistence. Structured for the long haul so will need some patience.
Drink 2026 - 2038
James Lawther, jancisrobinson.com (May 2022)
Peach and waxed-lemon character here. Some fennel and aniseed, too. Very fresh. Medium to full body with a round, creamy palate. A little closed for now at the end. 55.2% semillon and 44.8% sauvignon.
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (May 2022)
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.