1998 La Mission Haut Brion
By Chateau La Mission Haut Brion
1998 La Mission Haut Brion from Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux
The 1998 vintage holds a special place within the pantheon of Bordeaux releases. It was a year that played to the strengths of the right bank, with Pomerol and Saint-Émilion enjoying preferential weather. Yet, the savvy collector knows well that exceptional producers on the left bank crafted wines of stunning depth and character despite regional challenges. Among these is the 1998 La Mission Haut Brion from Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, a quintessential example of deft winemaking and terroir expression.
In vino veritas: The Truth of Terroir and Technique
The 1998 vintage was by no means straightforward; it could easily be summed up as a vigneron's year, where meticulous management in the vineyard, coupled with astute choices in the chais, proved instrumental. Chateau La Mission Haut Brion exhibited exceptional skill in threading this narrow passageway to vinous success. The estate harnessed the idiosyncrasies of its Pessac-Leognan terroir to produce a wine whose profundity sits among the finest exemplars from this storied year.
Lounging at the Zenith: The 1998 Vintage’s Acme
The 1998 La Mission Haut Brion unfurls in the glass with stately poise, boasting a complex bouquet that entwines ripened blackberry with hints of cigar box and earthy truffle tones—a tapestry woven from the gravely soils unique to this part of Bordeaux. On the palate, one savours a dance of power and elegance, with structure offering reassurance and layers of subtle fruit suggesting a tantalizing mystique. Given patience in decanting or further cellaring, this wine transcends mere taste to become an experience inspiring both contemplation and reverence.
Investors take note; this singular creation has not yet fully disclosed its narrative—the 1998 La Mission Haut Brion will continue to enchant and reveal new facets as it matures. We are witnessing an exquisite investment opportunity manifest with every moment it spends inching towards its zenith; a tapestry still weaving its historic thread in the grand narrative of fine Bordeaux wines.
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Scores and tasting notes
A candidate for the wine of the vintage from this somewhat forgotten year, consumers should be seeking out wines from the Right Bank and Graves as 1998 was a great vintage in those appellations. La Mission's 1998 exhibits a healthy, opaque blue/purple color with no lightening at the edge. Thirty minutes of aeration brings forth a sensational bouquet of chocolate, cedar, truffles, graphite, blackberries, cassis and incense. La Mission's so-called scorched earth/charcoal/hot rocks characteristic has not yet appeared. Full-bodied with superb purity, a multilayered texture, sweet tannin, good acidity and a fabulously long finish, this great, young La Mission-Haut-Brion's finest days are yet to come. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2040.
Robert Parker Jr - Wine Advocate #134
A limpid garnet core with ruby rim. The nose here is gregarious, ebullient, almost exotic in style with ripe blackberries, black cherries and a hint of black olives. This a glorious bouquet that soars from the glass but after five minutes it has clammed up a little and needs rigorous swirling to revivify. The palate is full-bodied with firm, ripe tannins. It still has the hubris and exoticism that it displayed in its youth but it is more tempered with a decade ageing. Notes of black cherries, bilberry and a touch of black olives towards the finish. Vibrant and intoxicating. Needs more time though. Drink 2012-2040+. Tasted May 2008.
Neal Martin - Wine Journal Jul 2008