Owner: The Dillon family
Classification: Grand Cru (Graves)
Average annual production: 6,000 to 7,000 cases
Standard blend: Cabernet Sauvignon (47%), Merlot (42.7%) and Cabernet Franc (10.3%)
Other wines: La Chapelle de la Mission (4,000 cases p/a), La Mission Haut Brion Blanc (500-700 cases p/a), La Clarté de Haut Brion (1,000-1,200 cases p/a)
Despite its close proximity to Haut Brion and the chateau’s shared ownership since 1983, La Mission Haut Brion’s lineage is quite distinct from that of its First Growth neighbour. In the late 16th century a plot of land owned by the Roustaing family was sold to the Lestonnacs, who implemented the first focused approach to winegrowing on the property. The winery remained under their control for over 100 years until the land was willed to the priests of the Mission of Saint-Vincent de Paul in 1654. After taking over the estate, the priests advanced the wine’s reputation to such an extent that its fame spread as far as the royal court in Paris. But after 130 years of successful winemaking, their tenure came to an abrupt end. The eruption of the French Revolution saw church properties confiscated and sold off by the state, with the chateau’s name left as the only reminder of its ecclesiastical past.
In 1821 La Mission Haut Brion was bought by the Chiapella family from New Orleans. Their regime was not remarkable in terms of viticultural development, though they did improve the aesthetics of the neglected estate significantly. Eight decades later, La Mission Haut Brion was sold to the Establissements Duval, which saw it pass through the hands of numerous families in a very short period of time. In 1919, Frederic Woltner took over control of the property and began restructuring the vineyards and radically modernising the estate. Family tensions, however, led to the sale of the estate to Domaine Clarence Dillon, the owner of Haut Brion, in the early 1980s.
La Mission Haut Brion 2014
The latest vintage is a blend of 54% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Cabernet Franc.
La Mission Haut Brion 2014 received an encouraging review from Neal Martin who scored it 95-97 and noted: “This is a sophisticated La Mission Haut-Brion in the making, one that may actually surpass Haut-Brion as it is sometimes prone to do. The 2014 is a sterling success for Jean-Philippe Delmas and his team”.
Jancis Robinson scored the wine 17.5/20 – “Some richness and really vibrant on the nose” – whilst James Suckling awarded it 94-95 – “A finely grained La Mission”.
In all, Chateau La Mission Haut Brion has received seven perfect scores from Robert Parker. Only one other red Bordeaux wine has achieved more than this: Petrus has gained nine.
The most recent La Mission vintage to be awarded with a three digit score from Parker is the 2005, which was upgraded in his ten-year retrospective report, released at the end of June. The wine’s price climbed ahead of the report’s release – apparently in anticipation of an upgrade – before leaping up after the announcement. Three days before the upgrade, it traded at £3,700 per 12×75. Just after, it traded for as high as £4,490: an increase of 21.4%.
Its recent price appreciation also earned La Mission Haut Brion 2005 the position of top riser in the Liv-ex 100 index over the past year.
An unofficial First Growth?
According to this year’s Liv-ex classification, which mimics the Bordeaux 1855 classification by ranking chateaux based purely on price, Mission is the unofficial sixth First Growth, coming in just behind Mouton Rothschild. This is the fourth time that Liv-ex has run its own classification, and La Mission Haut Brion has been shown as a First Growth every time.
A recent Liv-ex report showed that La Mission Haut Brion is amongst the Chateaux with the greatest variation in current prices across recent vintages. As the chart below shows, its three most highly scored vintages – including two 100-point wines – are commanding significantly higher prices than others. Several vintages appear to offer relative value, including the 2006, 2008 and 2012.
Liv-ex members can click here to view all active markets of Mission Haut Brion.