As this wine sat in the glass aerating, I began having some doubts about whether it merited a low-90s point score. I think it does, but the fact that it deteriorated more quickly than some of its siblings (even those from more challenging vintages) gave me pause. Nevertheless, I have to assume that most people will decant all of these wines (as I did) and consume them within an hour of opening. On that basis, this 1985 is clearly a low-90 point wine. The problem is that for the most part, 1985 does not have that extra level of concentration possessed by the great vintages. However, it offers a softness to go along with the fragility of the wines as most 1985s, including this La Mission-Haut-Brion, are fully mature. A dark plum/garnet color reveals a pinkish lightening at the edge, and the bouquet reveals plenty of smoke, camphor, charcoal, graphite, sweet kirsch and blacker fruit aromas intermixed with meaty, sauteed mushroom, cedar and spicy notes.
Perhaps not as powerful as expected but the pure flavors are impressive. Wonderful berry, raspberry and cherry character, full body and silky tannins.
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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