La Mission Haut Brion 1990
Tasting Notes La Mission Haut Brion 1990
Reminiscing over the 1989 and 1990 vintages, which I have followed from birth, there always seemed to be a dramatic difference in quality. Not that the 1990 was not a top wine, but in its infancy, I never thought it would come close to being as riveting and magnetic as its older sibling, the 1989. However, it has proven to be nearly as prodigious. One of the hottest years in Bordeaux, 1990, a vintage of enormous yields, even dwarfing yields in 1985 and 1982, produced a fabulously open-knit, seemingly fast track La Mission that, at age 22, shows no signs of fading or losing its grip. The color is slightly more mature and evolved than the 1989's, exhibiting a lighter rim and a less dark blue/ruby/purple hue. Classic La Mission-Haut-Brion aromatics of camphor, licorice, scorched earth, hot bricks, barbecue, cassis, blueberry and kirsch are well displayed. Broad, expansive, velvety-textured and opulent with high glycerin and perhaps slightly higher alcohol (I don't have the statistics to verify that), the 1990 is as delicious and open-knit as the 1989, with less density and possibly less potential longevity. Most 1990s have been quick to reach full maturity, and as brilliant as they can be, they need to be monitored carefully by owners. Currently in late adolescence, but close to full maturity, the 1990 should hold in a cold cellar for another 15-20 years. However, it is a fabulous wine to inspect, taste and consume, so why wait?
The first bottle is corked. The second bottle has a deep garnet core with dark brick rim. The nose is closed at first with overt black olive aromas, autumn leaves, gibier and a hint of mown grass. The intensity builds nicely in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with superb delineation and lovely tobacco-infused black fruits, bitter dark chocolate and great length. This is beginning to remind me of the ’82, developing that subtle dried herb character on the aftertaste with just a touch of dried figs. Divine. Drink 2010-2040. Tasted May 2008.