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Sometimes it seems as if La Mission is as good as Haut-Brion - that was certainly the case in 2001. But in 2000, La Mission fitted more comfortably into its usual good neighbor slot. That is not to suggest it is not a great wine - the score indicates that. At the moment, it is closed, solid and chunky, but all the right hints are there, and it will develop slowly and in a sustained way over many years.
The 2001's juicy, peppery, meaty bouquet reveals notions of black currants, black cherries, tobacco leaf, and smoky barbecue. This expressive, medium-bodied, seductive La Mission has shed most of its tannin, revealing a gentle roundness. The wine builds incrementally in the mouth, finishing with impressive purity and length. Neither the biggest nor most flamboyant La Mission-Haut-Brion, it is a classic example to drink over the next 10-15 years while waiting for the bombastic, massive 2000 to evolve.
La Mission Haut Brion is from the Pessac-Leognan appellation. In 1664, the estate was acquired by the Congregation of the Mission; the fathers in this group fancied themselves viticultural specialists, committed to finding and planting according to the land. A devotee to the wines, Marshal de Richelieu, once said "If God forbade drinking, would he have made such good wine?" The critics are also fans, evidenced by Robert Parker awarding the Bordeaux red blend with 100 points on the 2000, 2009 and 2010 vintages. Stylistically, these wines are rich, oaky and powerful with ripe, succulent fruit and good acidity. The wines age well, but need at least 10 years in the cellar before drinking. Vintages to look out for: 1990, 1982, 1961 and 1945 1929, 1947, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1975, 1978, 1982, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2008, and 2009.
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