La Mission Haut-Brion

This estate, considered by many to be the only serious rival to the pre-eminence of the Grand Cru estate Château Haut-Brion in Pessac-Léognan, has passed through many hands throughout its history, first documented in the early years of the 16th century.

These include the de Rostaings, the Lestonnacs, the fathers of the Congrégation de la Mission de Saint-Lazare (who gave the estate the name it bears to this day), the Vaillants, the Chiapellas, the Cousteaus, the Woltners and, finally, the current owners Domaines Clarence Dillon, owners of Château Haut-Brion itself.

The Woltners did much to improve the vineyards and the cellars during their tenure and since 1983, when the Woltners sold it to Domaines Clarence Dillon, the current owners have maintained that commitment to the highest quality. Today it is in the hands of the very capable and experienced Jean-Philippe Delmas, who manages La Mission Haut-Brion as well as Haut-Brion, and he has followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who also managed the properties.

Situated in the commune of Talence, just across the road from Château Haut-Brion, the estate of classic gravel soils is gradually being surrounded by the urban creep of the city of Bordeaux, but its quality has never been compromised. Though subordinate to Haut-Brion in the established hierarchy of Bordeaux wines, there are certainly vintages in which it outshines its notional rival in red or white wines, and many judge that it is consistently of first growth quality.

The gravel and clay soils lie on a bank up to 18 metres deep and are planted with 43% merlot, 47% cabernet sauvignon and 10% cabernet franc on just over 26 hectares, while just 2.5 hectares are planted with 85% semillon, 14% sauvignon blanc and 1% muscadelle for their superlative whites.

Up to the 2008 vintage, the whites were sold under the name Laville Haut-Brion, but from the 2009 vintage on have been renamed as La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc. The red wine is matured in oak for 18 to 22 months, 80% new, while the white ferments in barrel and then spends a further nine to 12 months in wood, 40-50% of which new oak. A second red wine is also made, with much the same care and attention that is given to the first, called La Chapelle de Mission Haut-Brion.

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