A La Mission Haut-Brion Vertical Tasting (1961-2004)

Recently we attended a fantastic Château La Mission Haut-Brion vertical tasting (at the Wine Watch in Fort Lauderdale), which was another ‘can’t miss’ event. Many Bordeaux wine enthusiasts consider Château La Mission Haut-Brion to be equal to the first growths. It is certainly difficult to argue with this, considering their long track record of consistently high scores awarded by critics. But despite producing incredible wines year after year, La Mission still seems to stand in the shadow of its next-door neighbor, Château Haut-Brion (which is a first growth that actually shares the same owners as La Mission). But anyone who drinks both Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion knows that both produce great wines every year that are equivalent in quality. La Mission has produced a number of 100-point wines in the past fifty years, which includes the 1961, 1975, 1982, 1989, 2000, 2005, 2009, and 2010. On this evening, we tasted a broad range of vintages from several decades. While everything showed well, there were some standouts as well as surprises. And we were reminded yet again, “there are no great wines, only great bottles.”

IMG_32742004 Dark opaque color. A nice nose of blackberry, blueberry, cigar tobacco, oak, and vanilla. Dense and layered on the palate. Lots of structure to go along with the fruit. Give this 5-10 years. – 92/100

1998 Quite approachable for such a young wine. It’s still showing very young, and is far from maturity. There is rich, ripe fruit. The tannins are serious and firm. Give this time or a lot of aeration. – 94/100

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1990 This continues to be one of my favorite vintages from LMHB. The nose is just so fresh and exotic. There are all of the typical elements, with dark fruits, smoke, tobacco, spice, espresso, and fresh violets. Vibrant and fresh on the palate. Almost stunning balance, yet this wine still shows so young. A long finish that highlights its impressive complexity. – 96/100

1989 Easily the most disappointing wine of the night, especially considering how great this wine can be. This was clearly an off-bottle, as it was completely closed down for most of the evening. Initially, there was good fruit on the nose, but it quickly became shy and reticent. Also fell flat on the palate. This wine can be so much better than what this showed on this evening. – 92/100

1982 One of the strongest wines of the evening. The complexity on the nose was stunning, with cassis, iodine, balsamic, olive tapenade, smoke, thyme, leather, and fresh flowers. A gorgeous, pretty nose. Wrapped in layers of flavor on the palate. Excellent balance, with soft tannins. The fruit and acidity balanced very well. A long, seamless finish. – 96/100

IMG_32721981 A nose dominated by orange peel, black currant, herbs, and brown spices. There was a lack of ripeness in the fruit. Fruit was dominated by the drying effect of the tannins. This wine clearly lacked balance. – 88/100

1971 Had a very spicy nose, along with black currant, cigar tobacco, smoke, asparagus, and Provencal herbs. Hints of soy and somewhat medicinal on the palate. Still there was some charm and intrigue on the palate. Quite fresh on the palate, but with a bit of biting acidity on the finish. Very enjoyable overall. Hanging on, but likely near its end of life. -91/100

1970 The most disappointing wine of the night. Lacked complexity on the nose (though there was still some ample fruit), and was completely flat on the palate. – 86/100

1964 After the stunning 1961, a bit of a disappointment. More transparent and lighter than the 61. A bit of a metallic nose, with some cherry and earthiness, though there was some charm. Average complexity on the palate, and lacking in concentration. Tannins a little drying and high acidity. I just felt the balance was not quite there. – 89/100IMG_3271

1961 Not quite as strong as the last bottle (which was bordering on perfection), but this was drinking beautifully. Such a fragrant, open nose of blackberry and strong juniper berry notes. Lots of smoke, tobacco, and leather to accompany the fruit. Tannins soft and perfectly integrated. Elegant on the palate, with gorgeous fresh acidity. A long, vibrant finish. Not the best wine on the this evening (but the most special, given its age), but close. -96/100

 

 

Pessac-Leognan Tasting Featuring the Famed 1982 Vintage

06-26-2015 Pessac-Leognan tasting at Wine Watch, Ft. Lauderdale

There are several rules that we live by; one is to taste the 1982 Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion as many times as possible. So when we learned of a Pessac-Léognan tasting that included these two powerhouses, we were in. Tasting notes will follow, but it’s safe to say that the aforementioned wines were the best of the evening. Choosing an actual wine of the night (WOTN) isn’t so easy; the Haut-Brion wins on the nose, and the La Mission triumphs on the palate. But there were a number of other great wines…1982 La Tour Haut-Brion, 1975 Pape Clément, and a couple of Lavielle Haut-Brion blancs thrown in the mix. All in all, it was a great night.


IMG_46941985 Laville Haut-Brion:Don’t give up on this — at first appeared oxidized, but this completely went away after 30 minutes in the glass. Nose then became much sweeter…lemon curd, honeysuckle, mineral, sherry, and brown sugar. Medium length on the finish with bright acidity. Would drink soon if you have this, but it was very enjoyable tonight. 93pts

1998 Laville Haut Brion: Reticent nose of apple, pear, melon, and floral notes. A bit of a sharpness of flavor. Longer finish than the ’85. Nice overall. 91pts


IMG_46951975 La Tour Haut-Brion: Amber with significant lightening of the edges. Cassis, armchair leather, cedar, cinnamon, tobacco, and a bit of ?tomato. Smooth on the palate. Medium-plus finish. Tannins essentially fully resolved. Would drink now if I had this in my cellar. – 92pts

1975 Pape Clement: Appeared a bit oxidized initially. Cherry, black currant leaf, cooked strawberry, saddle leather, and wet earth. Tannins mostly resolved. Notable acidity. Drink now if you have this. – 88pts


IMG_46691982 Bahans Haut-Brion: Red/black fruits, leathery, cedar, and pencil. Tannins not noticeable at this point. Notable acidity. Very enjoyable, but outclassed by the others tonight. – 92pts


IMG_46591982 Haut-Brion: My WOTN (beating the ’82 LMHB and LTHB). Easily the best nose of all of the wines, just gorgeous. Black currant, licorice, leather, spice, sweet tobacco, with floral/violet notes. While the LMHB had more smoke/earthiness, this had more spiciness. Pure elegance and finesse on the palate. Excellent balance with round tannins. Still appears to be at its peak and drinking very well. -96pts

1982 La Mission Haut-Brion: Most of us picked this and the Haut-Brion, but couldn’t decide which was the HB from the LMHB. Dark ruby color. Lots of dark fruit, cassis, smoke, roses, and earthiness. Nose not as open and evolved as the ’82 Haut-Brion. Not as many tertiary notes as one would have expected; seems younger than the Haut-Brion. Really powerful and concentrated. Long, lingering finish. Excellent and still has lots of time left in the tank. – 95pts

1982 La Tour Haut-Brion: Doesn’t have the aromatic complexity of the ’82 Haut-Brion, but had more fruit on the nose than on the palate. Black currant, cedar, and leather. Tannins round but need more integration. Most impressive is the long finish. At or near its peak. – 93pts