This morning we have seen the very exciting releases of Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion, which derive from Domaine Clarence Dillon. In 2016 Haut Brion has been awarded 97-99 points from Neal Martin and 100 points by James Suckling. La Mission Haut Brion has been awarded 98-100 points from Neal Martin and 96-97 points from James Suckling. This marks one of the finest ever combined vintages from these two great Estates.
The 2016 vintage of La Mission Haut Brion is one of the finest ever, having been awarded a potentially perfect score from Neal Martin, in all likelihood putting it on par with the 2009 and 2005. La Mission Haut Brion has reached new heights in recent years, which has proven a favourite of Neal Martin who says: ‘I thought that the 2015 La Mission Haut-Brion flirted with perfection. The 2016 has that extra edge, a “je ne sais quoi” that leaves you reaching for the thesaurus looking for superlatives.’ We are evidently look at a future straight 100 point score and one of the greatest La Mission Haut Brion ever.
Today’s release price of £3,850 per case of 12 or £1,925 per case of six, represents a 12% euro increase on 2015, translating as a 20% sterling increase. Today’s price of £3,850 is offered at a 17% discount to the current trading price of the 98+ scoring 2010 (£4,650) and a 21% discount to the 100 scoring 2009 and 2005 at (£4,850). As such the lowest score in the 98-100 band would leave the 2016 still undervalued, while it is clear the market is willing to pay £4,850 for a perfect scoring La Mission Haut Brion. Either way, today’s price leaves plenty on the table for collectors to buy aggressively on release.
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La Mission Haut Brion has been owned by Domaine Clarence Dillon, owners of Haut Brion since 1974. However, despite the coming together of the two properties, Jean-Bernard and later Jean-Philippe Delmas, who oversaw the winemaking for both properties, managed to maintain La Mission’s unique identity that has led to its wines attracting much critical acclaim.
La Mission Haut Brion 2016, 12×75 – £3,850 EP & 6×75 – £1,925 EP
98-100 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 La Mission Haut Brion is a blend of 57.5% Merlot and 42.5% Cabernet Sauvignon picked between 19 September and 14 October, one of the longest ever. “We had to be patient and wait for each plot,” Jean-Philippe Delmas told me. “It took longer than usual.” As is customary, I allowed my sample, and likewise all the wines poured at this tasting, around 40-45 minutes to open since they always transform in the glass. It has a clean and precise, quite understated bouquet with fine mineralité, cold stone aromas infusing the black fruit. This has incredible precision, perhaps even more pixelated than the “gaff over the road” Haut-Brion. The palate is medium-bodied with supple and lithe tannin. I appreciate the line of acidity here, the smoothness and harmony that takes your breath away. Every atom is infused with life-affirming freshness. It is a wine bridled with incredible focus and delineation. I thought that the 2015 La Mission Haut-Brion flirted with perfection. The 2016 has that extra edge, a “je ne sais quoi” that leaves you reaching for the thesaurus looking for superlatives.
96-97 Points, James Suckling
The texture to this is very beautiful with chewy yet very polished tannins. Full-bodied, tight and mouth-filling. Starts very slowly and then takes off. Love the energy in this.
Haut Brion has released this morning for £4,850, or £2,425 per case of six. This represents a 9% euro increase on 2015. In 2016 Haut Brion continues its rich vein of form and has added another great vintage to its canon of splendour. The 2016 has been awarded 97-99 points from Neal Martin, who states, ‘It clearly has a more powerful and intense bouquet compared to the La Mission Haut-Brion, although maybe not the same killer level of detail and delineation.’ James Suckling prefers Haut Brion 2016 awarding it a straight 100 points and asks ‘Staggeringly precise. It can’t get better than this, can it?’
Today’s release price is £50 more than the current trading price of the 2015. However, it is priced at a 30% discount to the 2010 (£6,950), a 27% discount to the 2009 and 2005, all of which have a perfect 100 point score from Robert Parker. There is no direct comparison at this stage for the score, however, the chart below demonstrates the relationship between the current market price of past releases and scores from the Wine Advocate. This can be used to establish efficiency of new release prices in relation to the score the wine has received. The 2016 vintage has received a median score of 98 points from Neal Martin – this would indicate the release price should be between £4,800-£4,900. Today’s release price is directly between the two boundaries indicating efficient pricing. The correlation of the two variables charted below is calculated at 0.87768 – this underpins the findings and is indicative of a strong positive linear relationship. Obviously, the maximum score in the band of 99 points will offer excellent upside, however, a score of 98 is distributed correctly.
Haut Brion is the only First Growth found outside of the Medoc, it is located in Graves in central Bordeaux. As the name suggests the top vineyards in this commune boast abundant gravel. Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion also have more sand in their vineyards than the Haut Medoc, accounting for the higher degree of Merlot planted and enhanced harmony and elegance of the wine. In the early 20th Century, Clarence Dillon, an American banker acquired Haut Brion. Dillon’s great-grandson Prince Robert of Luxembourg is the current custodian. Most vintages are medium bodied, its richness and power on the palate balance beautifully with its trademark distinctive tobacco flavour common to Graves. Haut Brion is famed for its smoky spice flavours and can be recognised by a distinct aroma of truffles and fine Havana Cigars.
In conclusion, La Mission Haut Brion is one of the wines of the vintage, offered at a very appealing price, which will serve collectors well over the coming years. Haut Brion is priced very well and will certainly be awarded the upper score within its band, which will make it look like a superb buy. Haut Brion has decreased its production by 25% in 2016. Both are in high demand and will be sold out by this afternoon.
Haut Brion 2016,12×75 – £4,850 EP or 6×75 – £2,425 EP
97-99 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Haut Brion is a blend of 56% Merlot, 37.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6.5% Cabernet Franc that was picked between 19 September and 13 October. Jean-Philippe Delmas told me that this represents a touch more Merlot than last year’s vintage. It clearly has a more powerful and intense bouquet compared to the La Mission Haut-Brion, although maybe not the same killer level of detail and delineation. The palate is beautifully balanced with arching tannins that insistently grip the mouth. There are layers of black fruit, minerals, sea salt and a touch of crushed violets. Unlike the 2015 Haut-Brion, this is more linear, stricter and you could argue more nimble on its toes. Yet maybe it does not quite have the same depth and labyrinthine complexity that made the 2015 such an astonishing wine. Nevertheless, this 2016 is not far behind and it will be fascinating to compare in the future.
100 Points, James Suckling
This is a monument for Haut-Brion and reminds me of the great 1998 but in a modern and bright style. Full-bodied, very tannic and superbly structured yet always agile and vivid. Its energy and dynamic nature grabs you by the shoulder and tells you it’s great. Staggeringly precise. It can’t get better than this, can it?
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