Pessac Leognan and Graves fared very well in 2012, due to their higher proportion of Merlot. The top wines have excellent mid-palates and density, with La Mission Haut Brion achieving alcohol levels close to 15% abv. This is its highest ever proportion of Merlot with over 60% in their blend. This is one of our wines of the left bank, breaking the trend of the 2012; it is rich and exuberant combining their tell-tale cigar box with brioche, pepper, sweet spices and dried raisins, creating a truly pronounced nose. On the palate it was full bodied and voluptuous, displaying subtle white chocolate and a long finish of Cinnamon. We believe Parker has underscored this wine which distinguished itself from the vintage, tasting more like a 2003 or 2006 than the cooler 2012. This wine is a superb effort and we believe Parker will be pushing 95 points from the bottle in two years time.

As always La Mission Haut Brion whose vineyards are adjacent to Haut Brion offer a similar quality at a large price reduction to the First Growths. Like its sibling Haut Brion, a very successful fermentation and a high ratio of Merlot has created a wonderfully forward and flamboyant wine and a veritable perfect fit for cellaring and drinking in 5-6 years, although it will age for 15-20.

The 2012 La Mission Haut-Brion, which represents 41% of the total production, is a blend of 62% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots of tobacco leaf, forest floor, underbrush and red as well as black fruit aromas jump from this aromatic, seductive, open-knit La Mission. Medium to full-bodied, round, generous, lush and flattering to taste, even at this young age, it is built along the stylistic lines of the 2001 or 1999. Drink it over the next 15-20 years. 91-94 Robert Parker