On the Trail

Haut-Brion Unleashes First Growth Fury

David Driscoll

“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.”

- Neal Martin on the 2016 La Mission Haut Brion

While 2016 has produced numerous epic bottlings thus far, perhaps the mantle of most anticipated falls to Pessac-Leognan’s coveted pair: Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut Brion—one a long-established first growth, and the other considered by many to be Bordeaux's unofficial sixth premier cru. Based on the over-the-top reviews from James Suckling, Neal Martin, it's fair to say 2016 will go down in history as a historic vintage for both properties. Built on a grand scale, they stand among the best ever from their estates, even including the monumental vintages of 1959, 1961, 2005, and 2009. Perfection doesn’t come along often, but it would seem that, once again, Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut Brion have cornered the market.

Our staff echoed a similar enthusiasm after tasting through a full flight of the 2016 expressions at Haut-Brion this past April. Our owner and head Bordeaux buyer thought the 2016 Haut-Brion was fantastic (but he thinks the 2015 is just as good) and considers it to be in the hunt for best wine of the vintage. This morning, the estate unleashed both wines, the 2016 La Mission included, for pre-order and we snatched up what we could. We're holding down our first-tranche pricing while supplies last, but after the minuscule amounts of Lafite released last week, we're not holding our breath for much more. Our first tranche of 2016 Lynch-Bages sold out in less than 24 hours and the price is now about fifteen dollars higher than before. 

The first growths always play a role in establishing future pricing for the other châteaux, so it will be interesting to see how this continues to play out.

-David Driscoll