Both La Mission-Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion hit home runs in this vintage, which did not produce as many profound wines as the Bordeaux publicity machine suggested. 1989, the 200th anniversary of the French revolution, was an incredibly hot year (surpassed only by 1990 and 2003). Even from barrel the seamless 1989 La Mission revealed a special elixir aspect, tasting like it had been designed by Chanel. It still possesses a blue/purple color with only a hint of garnet creeping in, and the explosive aromatics offer up notes of licorice, creme de cassis, blueberry liqueur, smoky barbecue meats, truffles and graphite. If that’s not enough to get one salivating, the palate has never disappointed either. Full-bodied with extraordinary opulence as well as sweet, well-integrated, velvety tannins, this fresh, lively, blockbuster La Mission appears to be one of those rare wines that never goes through a closed, unfriendly stage. It has been a compelling, multidimensional effort from barrel, in its infancy, and as it heads into late adolescence. A remarkable tour de force in winemaking, it is one of the all-time profound La Mission-Haut-Brions. Anticipated maturity: now-2050. (RP)
The striking difference in purity between the top wines of 1989 and their counterparts in 1990 is very readily apparent in the magical 1989 La Mission Haut-Brion, which is a significant step from the very fine 1990 paired up with it at this tasting. The brilliant and vibrant nose soars from the glass in a sappy blend of black cherries, blackberries, cigar wrapper, gravelly soil tones, smoke and a touch of new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and nascently complex, with a rock solid core of sappy fruit, stunning soil inflection, ripe tannins and stunning purity on the beautifully focused and endless finish. This is one of the greatest young vintages of La Mission I have ever had the pleasure to taste. (Drink between 2020-2100) 97+
Medium red with some amber at the rim. Knockout nose combines tobacco, warm stones, minerals, menthol and burning woodsmoke. Wonderfully dense, silky and sweet, but there superb underlying acidity and tannic structure to buttress the wine flesh. Haut-Brion is widely considered to be the wine of the vintage, but in my experience La Mission is at the same exalted quality level. Drink 2005 to 2030. (ST)
What a nose of pressed flowers and full-throttle dried fruits. Full-bodied, with intense and very ripe fruit that has undertones of dried fruit, raisin and grilled meat. Chewy and decadent, almost rustic, offering so much richness and decadence. So much to give still, but why wait? (JS, Web Only-2010)
Lively and rich. Dense blackcurrant and savoury. Much livelier than the 1990. Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh and sinewy. 18.5/20 points
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