A kick of black fruit and confident spice right from the first nose, this is an intense and concentrated La Mission, tightly in control, not letting up from beginning to end. The pencil lead and bitter dark chocolate is layered in between the cassis notes in a way that makes you see the Cabernet influence although this is majority Merlot (once again - this is a character of the year, low yields of Cabernet mean Merlot is more featured in the blend than usual; but the intensity of the Cabernets mean that it still has an outsized influence on flavour profile). Grilled coffee beans overtake on the close of play, this is seductive and switches beautifully between the tannins pressing in on the palate and the juice expanding things outwards. This is the wine to go for in the Domaines Clarence Dillon stable this year. Harvest from 7th to 29th September.
Jane Anson, Decanter (May 2021)Score: 98/100Drink 2030-2050
The 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion was picked September 7–29. It has a very intense and beautifully defined bouquet of blackberry, wild strawberry, wilted violet petals and hints of orange blossom. It unfolded with aeration as I examined it side-by-side against its neighbor over the course of an hour. The exquisitely balanced palate is lightly spiced on the entry and segues into a very structured midpalate that frames the weight of pixelated black fruit. That spicy theme continues and is exaggerated toward a finish that fans out wonderfully. This is a less alcoholic La Mission Haut-Brion compared to recent vintages, a bit "cooler" and streamlined, yet no less intense and satisfying. An enthralling wine in the making from Jean-Philippe Delmas and his team.
Neal Martin, Vinous (May 2021)Score: 97-99/100
Composed of 48.6% Merlot, 43.2% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8.2% Cabernet Franc, harvested from 7th to 29th September, the 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion has an alcohol of 14.7%. It needs considerable swirling and coaxing to reveal slowly emerging scents of freshly crushed blackcurrants, Morello cherries, wild blueberries and forest floor, leading to suggestions of violets, baker's chocolate and cardamom with wafts of dusty soil and oolong tea. The medium to full-bodied palate bursts with impactful, fresh red, black and blue fruit layers, supported by impressive freshness and fantastically ripe, fine-grained tannins, finishing very long and fragrant. A stunning expression of this vintage!
Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (May 2021)Score: 97-99/100
The 2020 La Mission Haut-Brion is a gorgeous, elegant wine. Silky and pliant, La Mission is all finesse. Fine tannins lend energy as the 2020 gradually opens with some coaxing. Today, the flavors are remarkably primary, and yet the 2020 is so persistent, so elegant. Hints of cedar, tobacco, gravel and dried herbs add aromatic complexity, but the 2020 is a mere infant. I can't wait to watch it grow up. There is a bit of new oak that needs to integrate, but nothing élevage can't take care of.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous (May 2021)Score: 96-98/100
Another sensational wine, the 2020 Château La Mission Haut-Brion boasts a deep ruby/purple color to go with a rocking perfume of ripe black cherries, tobacco, damp earth, chocolate, and exotic spices. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and concentrated, it has a ripe, expansive texture, building tannins, and just an opulent texture. The vintage doesn't get any sexier than this beauty.
Jeb Dunnuck (May 2021)Score: 96-98/100
This really builds on the palate. Loads of blackberry and iodine with asphalt undertones. It's full-bodied with tannins that steamroll at the end and keep going. Classic blend.
James Suckling (April 2021)Score: 97-98/100
Full embossed bottle 1,280 g. Cask sample taken 13 April … nice and fresh! 48.6% Merlot, 43.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.2% Cabernet Franc picked 7 to 29 September. Estimated alcohol 14.7%.
Dark, blackish crimson. Obviously extremely dense and concentrated – so much so that initially the nose is buried in all that concentration. Then – whoosh – what a spread of firm fruit and layers of cassis and minerals! There is no shortage of ripe tannin buried under here so this will be a very slow burner but it's a worthy addition to the La Mission canon. Needs years and years and it's far from opulent, but then that's not what La Mission is about. Subtly builds towards a very long peacock's tail finish. Though it's impossible to imagine drinking this tightly structured wine without food.
Jancis Robinson MW (April 2021)Score: 18+/20Drink 2032-2055