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Bordeaux 2015: Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_5640Château Haut-Brion is one of the wines of the 2015 vintage. It has remarkable depth and a wonderfully succulent texture. There is power but there is also restraint. Château La Mission Haut-Brion is typically the drier and more obviously tannic of the two at this stage. There is prodigious scale here in La Mission, though I usually underrate it young. The wine definitely has the structure for three to four decades of ageing and will probably need a decade in bottle to emerge. Expect Haut-Brion to come up for air sooner. The rare whites here require the usual superlatives. At this stage for me La Mission Blanc is slightly weightier with Haut-Brion Blanc displaying a fraction more race and zip, which mostly reflects their respective blends, the former Sémillon dominant, the latter Sauvignon dominant. Both are remarkable. Ah, if only I could afford these wines…  

The harvest at Haut-Brion spanned September 8 to October 5 for the reds, and August 28 to September 7 for the whites. At La Mission [literally the other side of the Avenue Jean Jaurès] the reds were picked between 9 September and 1 October and the whites between 28 August and 8 September.

While the alcohols are really considerable, a shade under 15% for Haut-Brion, a shade over for La Mission, there still seems to be a degree of freshness in the wines. Both 2015s rank alongside the wines made here in 2012, 2010 and even perhaps 2009.

The following notes were taken at Château Haut-Brion on Thursday, 7th April, 2016 at approximately 8am. Frankly you can’t beat Haut-Brion Blanc with your cornflakes.


La Clarté de Haut Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Pale straw; flecks of silver/green; lovely saline note; minerality; some citrus tones; lime; nice weight and freshness; a good mouthful; has weight but not plodding. Refreshing on the end. Saline touch on the finish. [27% Sauvignon, 73% Sémillion, 14.3% alc]. Drink 2019-2028. 91-93

Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Pale silver/fleck of green; more wax and lanolin notes; vivid and appetizing; depth; some oyster shell; saline freshness too; more race than Clarté but this is fuller than Haut-Brion blanc; nice acidity; length on the palate; freshness on the end. [67% Sémillon, 33% Sauvignon Blanc, 14.6% alc]. Drink 2022-2035. 94-96

Château Haut-Brion Blanc, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Again silver/green; legs; deep; some wax; little lime and citrus notes; beautiful palate; very fine; has depth and race; some spearmint on the end; nice length. Wonderful minerality. [69% Sauvignon, 31% Sémillon, 14.3%]. Drink 2020-2035. 95-97+


La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Deep colour; vibrant purple at the meniscus; tight and stern to start with; opens up with some spicy and somewhat savoury blackcurrant characters; opens up in the glass; grip on the palate; lots of sinew; lacks a bit of flesh currently but will infill I’m sure; little stern at present. [45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 25% Cab Franc, 14.6%]. Drink 2022-2028. 89-91+

Le Clarence de Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

Deep looking; earthy purple at edge; blackcurrant and black cherry; little reticent [it is 8am]; freshness somehow; little stern on the entry again; texture and depth; not as fleshy as I’d have expected; correct if rather so. Good length here and some freshness. The wines are sleepy this morning. [57% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc, 14.6%]; Drink 2022-2028. 90-91+

Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Deep saturated colour; depth on the nose; black fruits but not over-played; some sweetness to the fruit; mannered; cherry and ripe plums; wood a bit present in terms of a slight dryness; will obviously fill out; I always fine La Mission the drier and more obviously tannic of the two siblings at this stage; chew on the finish and some warmth. Density. Lots of extract and texture. Minerality. [58% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 15.1%]. Drink 2025-2045. 94-96+

Château Haut-Brion, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pessac-Léognan

Bold colour; dark at centre; lovely cassis beauty on the nose; real depth and succulence; nice balance between the plummy purity and the influence of the Cabernets; seductive on the nose – quite gorgeous actually; great texture to the palate; greater mid palate richness here than displaying on La Mission; some restraint but lots of power and weight; quite masculine overall; sinew and flesh too but this is quite bold; length here very good. Definition. Needs 10 years – no flashy 2015 this – but stunning texture. [50% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 14.9% alc]. Drink 2025-2045. 97-100


Haut-Brion at 8am on Thursday, 7th April, 2016

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