Over the weekend we uncorked and reviewed a half bottle (375ml) of the 2004 La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion from the Pessac-Léognan appellation in the Bordeaux region of south western France. We actually bought this bottle in 2009 when we were touring through Bordeaux city itself. The bottle has been cellared in Australia since then, and has matured very well.
This is a second wine from the critically acclaimed Château La Mission Haut-Brion which is was originally a part of the vineyard (Haut-Brion) first classified a first growth as part of the famous 1855 Bordeaux classification. The estate has since been considered a first growth in it’s own right by the Liv-ex Bordeaux classification in 2009.
The estate’s first wine/first label is routinely found to be the equal, or indeed seen to outperform, the more prominent sister estate, Château Haut-Brion.
We decanted the half bottle into a Riedel decanter and let it breathe for about a half hour. The cork was of a very high quality, and the seal was in immaculate condition, even after ten years. In fact, the seal was so tight, it was no minor effort to uncork the bottle! This may mean that similar bottles may well live on for many, many more years to come should the cork and seal be of similar high standard.
This proved far too short, and the initial taste found the wine to be too tart and chalky. Letting it sit an extra hour produced dramatic differences when compared to the first sip – the tartness disappeared and the wealth of refined tannins were revealed. The bouquet contained a highly perfumed and softly sweet scent, accentuated with each swirl from the glass.
For the occasion, AWG selected Riedel ‘Sommelier” series Bordeaux glasses – these are massive glasses, hand blown and cost a tiny fortune per glass. The up side of such fine glasses is the capacity for oxidization in the glass, coupled with the excellent ability to retain much of the nose of the wine.
As you can see from the pictures, the wine had an excellent colour and presented very well. We would most certainly not hesitate to taste another bottle, or perhaps even move to the first label in the same year. One thing is for certain, there’s plenty of life left in this vintage, it could cellar comfortably for another ten years potentially, despite the cork.
This bottle was a real treat, and we recommend it to fans of tightly crafted Cabernet blends.
The half bottle size is also convenient for those on a budget and who would still like to sample from an excellent range of normally quite pricey Bordeaux wines. The second label/second wine also offers a unique insight into the quality of wine being produced by the big labels.