There are few wines that can boast such a long and fascinating history as that of Château La Mission Haut-Brion. It all started with the acquisition, by a merchant from Bordeaux, Arnaud de Lestonnac, of a plot of land in Pessac-Léognan, known as Arregedhuys, which will form the basis of both this Château and Château Haut-Brion. The Château passed from father to son to her niece Olive de Lestonnac who, stimulated by the charitable example of her aunt, Saint Joan of Lestonnac, in her will of 1862 gave the Château to the Lazzarist priests of Bordeaux, also known as Priests of the Mission of Notre-Dame d’Aubrion, hence the name La Mission Haut-Brion. Under the guidance of the latter the viticultural vocation of the land was enhanced and expanded, reaching an annual production of almost 22 hectoliters of wine, but the French Revolution interrupts this relationship by confiscating the land and selling it at auction, together with the main house and the company buildings.
Since then La Mission Haut-Brion has been handed over to the penultimate owner, the Woltner family, responsible for a major renovation of the winery and expansion of the estate, as well as the renovation of the old chapel and its new consecration. To tie the name of this wine more firmly to the chapel, it was decided to transcribe the most prestigious vintages of Château La Mission Haut-Brion in golden letters in the chapel, under the vault of Notre-Dame d’Aubrion. The last chapter of this story was completed in 1983, with the purchase of the winery by Seymour Weller, manager of Domaine Clarence Dillon, and is characterized by important restoration and modernization works of both the vineyards and the winery. Precisely these new efforts will mean that in 2009 the Liv-Ex (London International Vintners Exchange) will review the famous Bordeaux ranking of 1855 elevating Château La Mission Haut-Brion to the rank of Premier Cru.
Today the Château extends for about 29 hectares on a terraced 20-30 meters high, also common in Château Haut-Brion, from the ground composed of graves (small pebbles of quartz origin with excellent drainage capacity) on a skeleton of clay, sand and limestone. From vineyards of Merlot (49%) Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) and Cabernet Franc (11%) standing on 25 hectares of this land, planted at a density of 10,000 vines per hectare, is obtained the red version of this wine, while from Sauvignon Blanc (55%) and Semillon lying on another 4 hectares (45%) is obtained the white one. The wine comes from grapes harvested separately at full ripeness and vinified (always separately) with fermentation at a controlled temperature, followed by a couple of weeks of maceration. Only the best lots will be used for the production of the company’s flag-bearer, and will be left to age for about two years in new barriques, before their union and bottling.
The 2006 vintage shows a ruby color that is still perfectly concentrated, with an olfactory range that opens on notes of cooked plum, creme de cassis, wild blackberry and tomato concentrate, followed by officinal herbs, nutmeg, licorice and undergrowth, with final echoes of cigar tobacco, dark chocolate, graphite and incense. The palate is alive and throbbing, with incredible breadth and depth, and a refreshing balsamic vein that streamlines the mouthfeel in combination with perfectly integrated tannins; all enriched by the return of ripe red fruit and spice that accompany the sip until an almost endless closure.
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