2003 La Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan
This is a giant wine with lots of muscular tannins and rich fruit. Full and beautiful, very ‘Cabernet’ with currants and spices in the forefront. Broad shouldered, with notes of fresh mushrooms, pure fruit, souis bois, and a very long, long finish. This shows incredible class for the vintage. Robert de Luxembourg says it reminds him of the 1975 vintage with the powerful tannins. Pull the cork after 2015.
*Barrel Sample* Every year, this estate turns in a wine which closely rivals the neighboring Haut-Brion. This year, the rivalry is just as intense. This has sweet, ripe, beautiful fruit, delicious acidity already. But wait for the tannins to kick in.
Aromas of blackberry, tobacco and hints of oak. Full-bodied, with lots of silky and round tannins and a long finish. Lots going on here. Layered and powerful. Best after 2010. (JS)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2003 La Mission Haut-Brion shows more creme de cassis, plenty of cedar wood, melted licorice and charcoal in a medium to full-bodied wine. It is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc. Rustic tannins in the back knock down the ultimate pleasure, and the point score, ever so slightly, but there’s no doubting the complex, perfumey, noble aromatics this wine has managed to attain despite the staggering heat and drought in June, July and August. This has reached full maturity, but should hold nicely for another 7-10 years. (RP)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Medium red-ruby. Raspberry, smoked meat and truffle on the nose, with a slightly liqueur-like ripeness. Dense, fat and seamless; unusually soft and lush for a young La Mission, with compelling sweetness. But there are also huge, ripe tannins underneath. Finishes very sweet, suave and long. (ST)
Rich and sweet initially and then overlaid by tarry Haut-Brion minerals. Great sweetness, almost a burnt quality, and then some dustiness. Lots of pleasure even if far from the purest, most backward expression of La Mission. (JR)
La Mission-Haut-Brion has a long and illustrious history in Graves, and in some eyes is the greatest estate in Bordeaux. The estate has an excellent record of great wines stretching back over the past century, and today has a reputation for pure excellence. Robert Parker has said the quality is that of a First Growth. The vines are planted to 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Since 1983 the Clarence Dillon family, owners of Chateau Haut-Brion, have owned and managed La Mission now under the expert guidance of Jean-Philippe Delmas, the third generation in his family to manage the properties of the Dillon Family.