2018 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion

Year: 2018
Appellation: Pessac-Leognan
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 98-100
Vinous Media: 90-93
James Suckling: 97-98
Jeb Dunnuck: 97-99--Wine Enthusiast: 95-97--Jeff Leve: 97-99
Red Wine
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"The 2018 La Mission Haut-Brion is composed of 53.5% Merlot, 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3.6% Cabernet Franc, harvested September 10 to October 2. Deep purple-black in color, it slowly unfurls to reveal a beguiling nose of earth and soft-spoken fruit, opening with wild blueberries, wet slate, pencil lead and fresh black cherries giving way to a serious core of blackcurrant cordial, baked plums and wild sage, and then exposing delicate wafts of rose hip tea and candied violets. Full-bodied, the palate is very tightly wound and super intense with amazing restraint and energy focused around very firm, exquisitely fine-grained tannins and seamless freshness, finishing incredibly long and fantastically multilayered. Extraordinary wine.

Domaine Clarence Dillon pretty much nailed it across the board in 2018, from the first growth(s) in Pessac to the Saint-Émilion wines; to the more humbly priced, larger volume offerings; and even the whites, which were also tricky considering the heat. All the wines are ripe and seductive, true to what 2018 wanted to give as a vintage, and yet they possess bags of bright fruit, energy and freshness. “The first key to success this vintage was to start the first mildew treatment in the vineyards a little bit earlier than usual,” Deputy Managing Director Jean-Philippe Delmas of Domaine Clarence Dillon informed me. “If you did that, you were protected. If you didn’t, you had to constantly run after the disease. The second challenge was the date of the harvest—the date was finally quite late. The best solution was to wait to get ripeness but to pick before there was heaviness or the wines got too fat.”

I asked Delmas which he loved more this year, Cabernet or Merlot? “I loved everything,” he promptly replied. “And on the Right Bank, the Cabernet Franc was wonderful this year, which isn’t always the case. I would say Right Bank and Left Bank are the same for quality.”

Bravo team!" (WA)

"The 2018 La Mission Haut-Brion is bright and punchy, with lovely radiant fruit and a good deal of immediacy. Sweet red and purplish berry fruit, mint, tobacco, blood orange and wild flowers all grace this expressive, open-knit La Mission. It will be interesting to see what develops with élevage. Today, La Mission is decidedly expressive, and yet its typical layers of nuance are not yet especially in evidence. In 2018, La Mission is 53.5% Merlot, 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3.6% Cabernet Franc." (VM)

"A tight and linear red with fantastic oyster-shell, iodine and crushed-stone character, complementing the currants and blackberries. Extremely long and fresh." (JS)

"The 2018 La Mission Haut-Brion checks in as 53.5% Merlot, 42.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Cabernet Franc that, like the La Chappelle de la Mission Haut-Brion, was harvested between September 10 and October 2. Straight up awesome notes of black raspberries, smoked earth, melted licorice, and tobacco all emerge from this deeply colored 2018, and it develops a beautiful violet and floral quality with time in the glass. Rich, full-bodied, and concentrated on the palate, with subtle background oak and sweet tannins, it's one sexy yet also seamless 2018 that does everything right." (JD)

"95–97. Barrel Sample. While the wine is certainly structured, it has all the finesse and elegance that is associated with this estate. Beautiful berry flavors are packed with acidity but supported by generous tannins. This is impressive and obviously will age well." (WE)

"Take all the power La Mission Haut Brion is capable of harnessing, add the elegance, freshness, purity and layers of complexity that come at you in waves and you have an idea of what to expect in your glass. There is purity of the fruit with a natural smoke, tobacco leaf and burning ember profile in every sip. And the finish, it kept going long after the wine left my glass. Made from 57.5% Merlot and 42.5% and reaching 14.4% alcohol with a pH of 3.76, the harvest took place September 19-October 14. The Grand Vin represents 53% of the harvest. " (JL)