2009 La Mission Haut Brion

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Average critic rating : 96.92 points



The 2009 was not part of this vertical tasting, so I am repeating the tasting note published in issue #199 of The Wine Advocate from a tasting done in January, 2012.||A candidate for the wine of the vintage, the 2009 La Mission-Haut-Brion stood out as one of the most exceptional young wines I had ever tasted from barrel, and its greatness has been confirmed in the bottle. A remarkable effort from the Dillon family, this is another large-scaled La Mission that tips the scales at 15% alcohol. A blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (47% of each) and the rest Cabernet Franc, it exhibits an opaque purple color as well as a magnificent bouquet of truffles, scorched earth, blackberry and blueberry liqueur, subtle smoke and spring flowers. The wine’s remarkable concentration offers up an unctuous/viscous texture, a skyscraper-like mouthfeel, sweet, sumptuous, nearly over-the-top flavors and massive density. Perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime La Mission-Haut-Brion, the 2009 will take its place alongside the many great wines made here since the early 1920s. The good news is that there are nearly 6,000 cases of the 2009. It should last for 50-75+ years. Given the wine’s unctuosity and sweetness of the tannin, I would have no problem drinking it in about 5-6 years. The final blend was 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc. Wine Advocate.August, 2012



Tasted at the chateau. Delivering a hefty 14.7% alcohol and a pH of 3.84, the ’09 La Mission has a beautiful bouquet with wonderful definition, quite feminine with pure blackberry, raspberry, orange-blossom and a touch of pencil lead. Very focused and lifted. The palate is full-bodied with fine tannins, very good structure but extraordinarily tightly coiled, ready to spring into life in 10-15 years. Hints of tobacco and espresso towards the finish that has a gentle but insistent tannic grip. Saline finish. Excellent. Tasted April 2010



What a gorgeous nose of ripe dark fruits such as bramble berries, blueberries and currants, with hints of orange flowers. This is so tight and focused, with laser-guided tannins. It starts very slowly and then builds and builds and builds on the palate. Currants and blackberries galore, yet a tangy, firm and creamy textured tannin structure. Racy, muscular structure. Try in 2021. James Suckling, jamessuckling.com



Shows juicy aromas of ripe Cabernet Sauvignon and currant, with hints of forest fruits and sandalwood. Full-bodied, offering chewy, mouthcoating tannins that are fruit-coated and velvety. Dense and powerful. A little subdued. Could be better than I think



50% of the crop went into this. The alcohol level was 14.2% in 2005 with lots of plump Merlot boosting it but in 2009 the blend is 47% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and the alcohol level is a record 14.7%. Dark crimson. Scented, pretty, rather haunting aroma. Very rich and caressing – lovely texture. Still very firm and dry. The house signature of those warm bricks even in the super- ripe, super- imposing vintage of 2009! Lovely glow, and quite a bit alcohol on the end, but definitely no sweetness. SO different from the norm on the right bank... Almost inky finish. Seems very Cabernet to me. Fades just a little fast. 14.7% Jancis Robinson, jancisrobinson.com



Black red, marvellously intense expression of black fruits on the nose, slightly smoky with pure vineyard density and breed, magnificent structure, even slightly lush middle, great definition and length. Drink 2018-40

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Chart showing (to 12/01/2017) market price for 12x75cl standard case:

La Mission Haut Brion 2009
-£1,390.98     (-22.67%) Latest price:  £4,744.02
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La Mission Haut-Brion: The Importance

Located in the Bordeaux appellation of Pessac-Léognan, La Mission Haut-Brion has been producing exceptional quality wine for many centuries, often rivalling its first growth neighbour Château Haut-Brion in both quality and desirability.


La Mission Haut Brion is sometimes overlooked, as it was not included in the 1855 Bordeaux Classification. However it is a firm favourite of those in the know, commanding similar prices to its first-growth neighbour and earning much critical praise. Jancis Robinson calls it “the quintessential insider's wine…”, while Robert Parker describes this estate as “certainly a wine of first-growth quality, brilliantly made and extremely long-lived,” adding that “I have more bottles of La Mission-Haut-Brion in my private collection than any other wine in the world… La Mission has long been one of the greatest wines one could ever possibly drink as well as one of the most remarkably consistent.”


Parker’s stance is shared by fine wine exchange Liv-Ex, who rated La Mission Haut Brion as a First Growth in their updated ranking of Bordeaux wines in 2009.


Much like Château Latour, La Mission Haut-Brion has long been celebrated for its ability to create the highest quality of wine in the most disappointing of vintages. During one tasting which included some particularly tricky vintages, Jancis Robinson remarked that some of the most dismal vintages of La Mission performed far better than most other Bordeaux wines produced in those vintages.


La Mission Haut Brion: The Insight

La Mission Haut-Brion is consistently extremely highly rated by critics, and many vintages have received a perfect 100 points from Robert Parker. Some of the best more recent vintages have been 1982, 1989, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015. Writing about the perfectly rated 2009 vintage, Parker  writes that, “perhaps the two most singular aspects of this wine are its surreal aromatics and its ability to combine power with sublime complexity and harmony.”


While the château of La Mission is directly across the road from Haut-Brion, the vineyards of the two estates are further apart, and while most of the vines of Haut-Brion are in Pessac, the majority of the vines for La Mission are in Talence, and the difference in terroir and vine density between the two explains the difference in style between those two wines.


A white wine called La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc is produced at the estate and considered one of the best dry white wines in Bordeaux. Until the 2009 vintage the wine was known as Laville-Haut-Brion. This wine often rivals the exceptional white wine produced at Haut-Brion, and in youth displays the aromatics found in Gewürztraminers which then develops to deep nuttiness and richness found in the greatest sweet Bordeaux wines. La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc also has a second wine called La Clarté de Haut-Brion, which is shared with Château Haut-Brion and serves as the second wine for their white wine and is thus a blend of grapes from both estates.


La Mission Haut-Brion also produces a second wine called La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion. This wine is more approachable in youth, although it remains of exceptional quality, concentration and depth. Robert Parker says of this wine that those “looking for excellent value should seek out the limited production second wine of La Mission Haut-Brion, La Chapelle. It can be very fine and certainly ranks as one of the best second wines in all of Bordeaux.” The vineyard at La Mission Haut-Brion is planted to largely equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with approximately 7% Cabernet Franc. 3.5 hectares of vines at La Mission are reserved for white grape varieties, and this land is planted to approximately 62% Semillon and 38% Sauvignon Blanc.


La Mission Haut Brion: The Background

The history of this estate goes back to the 16th century when the brother in law of the founder of Château Haut-Brion, Jean de Pontac, Arnaut de Lestonnac started producing wine at La Mission. It was bequeathed by the Lestonnac family to the Congregation of the Mission, giving the name of the estate as it is now known. Throughout the 18th century the Pères Lazaristes, worked at the property in order to restore it and during this time, the property became well known partly through the patronage of the Maréchal de Richelieu, the Archbishop of Bordeaux, who is claimed to have said of the wine produced at La Mission Haut Brion, “If God forbade drinking, would he have made this wine so good?” In 1815, the estate was purchased by the Chiapella family, who had been involved in Bordeaux for some time and had managed Château Cos D’Estournel.


In 1919, the property was acquired by the Woltner family, a sale which most people consider as marking a change in winemaking at the property, with wine produced becoming much more concentrated and long-lived than before. In 1983 the property was sold to the Dillon family who owned Château Haut-Brion, and these two great estates are now both run by the same team. A huge amount was invested into the property, with a replanting programme in the vineyards and the château and winemaking facilities being modernised. Modernisation and renovation have been carried out continuously, with the latest works being completed in 2007, and more work no doubt to be carried out in the future. Both La Mission Haut-Brion and Chateau Haut-Brion are currently managed by Jean-Philippe Delmas, who was the third generation of his family to manage Haut-Brion and the second to manage at La Mission.

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