I always get a frisson of excitement when I hit this Chateau – the extraordinary scale of the place never fails to rev me up. I also love the wine. The Bouygues family bought the Chateau in 2006 and embarked on a huge 10,000 square metres rebuilding project. They have also bought back from a neighbour 30 hectares of the original Chateau and the vines are now in one enormous block. As if that weren't enough, they managed to naffle Hervé Berland from Mouton Rothschild as CEO.
"The quality is almost at the level of a First Growth."
The combination of massive investment, total commitment to quality, impeccable taste and long term vision has resulted in an always-very-good traditional Bordeaux reaching new levels of excellence. Yes the wine is expensive but the quality is almost at the level of a First Growth. The 2015 is no exception.
Despite the unexpected proximity to the urban and industrial sprawl and a sudden blackening of the sky followed by a downpour, the quiet majesty of La Mission Haut Brion struck us all. From the gothic archway to the understated building, this property exudes elegance and sophistication. The gilded arches of the garden and galleon weathervane give it an other-worldly charm and its stone cloisters and saintly statues demand reverence.
"The gilded arches of the garden and galleon weathervane give it an other-worldly charm and its stone cloisters and saintly statues demand reverence."
All of us quietened as we were ushered into the tasting room, expecting a revelation with all the religious icons and paintings looking down on the rows of etched glasses waiting to be filled. Everyone was silent as the flight of wines were poured, and then proceeded to taste the range from Quintus, La Mission and Haut-Brion. We all left quietly one by one as we finished, as if we had taken part in a ceremony of spiritual contemplation.
And the wines certainly lived up to the pomp and ceremony – they were delicious. The reds had a real purity of fruit, balanced by elegant tannins with nuances of herbs and spices. The whites were fresh and zesty, with great complexity and lovely elegance.
As we left, the wind picked up and the heavens opened again, we forlornly left this tranquil setting and into the car. Making our way through the hustle and bustle of town to the next tasting, we all look back fondly on La Mission as one of the best visits of the trip.