The 1989 La Mission Haut-Brion is hands-down the greatest of this era, and if one takes consistency into account, it is slipping past the 1989 Haut-Brion. Deep in color with only faint bricking on the rim, it has a breathtaking bouquet of intense blackberry, black truffle, black olive and incense. It is the precision that elevates this above almost everything else. The palate is full-bodied yet paradoxically weightless, offering multidimensional flavors of blackberry, raspberry, white pepper and clove. Then there is the underlying mineralité that chisels this into such a formidable Pessac-Léognan, fanning out beautifully on the elegant finish. This might well be Jean-Bernard Delmas’s greatest achievement. Tasted at the La Mission Haut Brion dinner at Amuse Bouche in Hong Kong.
Anticipated maturity: 2021-2050
Robert Parker 100
Both La Mission-Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion hit home runs in this vintage, which did not produce as many profound wines as the Bordeaux publicity machine suggested. 1989, the 200th anniversary of the French revolution, was an incredibly hot year (surpassed only by 1990 and 2003). Even from barrel the seamless 1989 La Mission revealed a special elixir aspect, tasting like it had been designed by Chanel. It still possesses a blue/purple color with only a hint of garnet creeping in, and the explosive aromatics offer up notes of licorice, creme de cassis, blueberry liqueur, smoky barbecue meats, truffles and graphite. If that’s not enough to get one salivating, the palate has never disappointed either. Full-bodied with extraordinary opulence as well as sweet, well-integrated, velvety tannins, this fresh, lively, blockbuster La Mission appears to be one of those rare wines that never goes through a closed, unfriendly stage. It has been a compelling, multidimensional effort from barrel, in its infancy, and as it heads into late adolescence. A remarkable tour de force in winemaking, it is one of the all-time profound La Mission-Haut-Brions. Anticipated maturity: now-2050.
Anticipated maturity: 2012-2050
Lively and rich. Dense blackcurrant and savoury. Much livelier than the 1990. Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh and sinewy.
Anticipated maturity: 2010-2030