La Mission Haut Brion 1982
Tasting Notes and Scores
Wine Advocate August, 2012 A monumental wine, this historic La Mission-Haut-Brion was the last vintage made by the descendants of the Woltner family, who had owned this estate for decades prior to selling it to their neighbors, the Dillon family (the American owners of cross-street rival, Chateau Haut-Brion). The 1982 admirably demonstrates the magnificence of La Mission as well as the singularity of this amazing terroir. I had the good fortune of tasting it from barrel (where it was an enormous Graves fruit bomb) and watching it develop more nuances in bottle. At age 30, it remains a majestic, multidimensional, profound Bordeaux with another 20-30+ years of life ahead of it. It’s no secret that the great vintages of Bordeaux have levels of fruit extract and depth that go beyond other years. It is this fruit, often referred to as “fat” or “concentration,” that takes decades to dissipate and fade. As it does so, the extraordinary aromatic expression of the terroir asserts itself. Remarkably, the 1982 is still in late adolescence and has not yet reached its peak. Early in my career, much of my reputation was established on calling this vintage correctly, but I never in my wildest dreams thought the 1982s would mature as slowly and last as long as some seem capable of doing. One of the handful of perfect wines of the vintage, the La Mission still possesses a remarkably dense ruby/purple color with only a slight garnet and lightening at the edge. The fruit-dominated aromatics reveal lots of cassis, blueberry, scorched earth, black truffle, incense, graphite and high-class, unsmoked cigar tobacco-like notes. Still exhibiting remarkable concentration, enormous body, silky sweet tannin, and no perceptible acidity, the 1982 remains fresh, delineated and super-compelling. A massive La Mission made by the Dewravin family and their winemakers, all of whom were dismissed the following year when the estate was acquired by Haut-Brion, this modern day legend shows no signs of decline. In fact, it may not have yet reached its peak. Anticipated maturity: now-2060+. The most powerful, concentrated, and enormously endowed La Mission Haut Brion of any vintage between 1975 and 2000, this wine still seems very backward and yet oh so promising. I have gone back and forth over its life, wondering whether it is a modern day clone of the 1961 or the 1959, but more and more I am leaning toward the 1959. The wine has a murky, opaque plum/garnet colour with no lightening at the edge. With hours of aeration, the wine begins to reveal a prodigious perfume of black fruits, scorched earth, licorice, truffles and some graphite as well as damp earth. Enormously concentrated, with extraordinary power and depth, this wine continues to remind me of a modern day equivalent of the 1959. The 1989 is an interesting comparison, as is the 2000. The 1989 has sweeter tannin, more finesse and elegance, but perhaps not the sheer power, muscle and palate impact of the extraordinary 1982. Both of them are pure perfections for my palate, but completely different in style. The 2000 has as much extract and power but tastes slightly more refined. The 1982 still reveals plenty of tannin, which should guarantee it another 3 decades of longevity. This is clearly a 50 year wine. Anticipated maturity: now-2040. (100)
Tasted at the Amuse Bouche offline in Hong Kong. This wine just never lets you down. Consistent with previous notes with that bewitching nose of black truffle, autumn leaves and fireside hearth in a country pub. Wonderful definition and sense of personality. The palate is beautifully balanced and surfeit with character. This bottle is perhaps a little more backward compared to other bottles that I have tasted, but like the Ruchottes 1990 from Rousseau tasted earlier, the bottom line is that it is simply delicious! Tertiary notes on the entry, dried herbs, dried meats with a harmonious, generous finish that lingers long in the mouth. Tasted November 2011.