La Chapelle de la Mission
Château La Mission Haut-Brion’s vineyard straddles the communes of Talence and Pessac and is located only a few miles southwest of Bordeaux’s city center. It belongs to the Pessac-Léognan appellation, to the north of the Graves wine-growing region. The property is situated just opposite that of Château Haut-Brion and shares the same gravelly and elevated terrain ideal for cultivating vines already referred to under the name Haut-Brion on ancient maps and deeds. The nature of the gravel at Château La Mission Haut-Brion, consisting of small stones of various types of quartz, is a key element contributing to the particularly valuable wine-growing potential of the soil. The gravel soil lies on a single subsoil of clay, sand, limestone and falun (limestone shell) established at the end of the Tertiary era, then during the Quaternary era throughout the Ice Ages. From 20 centimetres to over 3 metres thick, the gravel deposits form slopes that enjoy excellent exposure, with natural drainage reinforced by a large hydrographic network of small water courses, as the Peugue or the Serpent, tributaries of the Garonne. The vineyard covers an area of 29 hectares (about 72 acres). Nearly 25 hectares are planted with red grape varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc) and just over 4 hectares are devoted to white grape varieties (Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc).
The harvest is the culmination of a whole year’s work. The grapes are harvested by hand according to their ripeness, then sorted and de-stalked leaving only the quintessence, which will determine the greatness of the vintage. The fruit is placed in a vat and the temperature is gradually raised so that fermentation can begin.
Thanks to technology and precise temperature control, the fermentation is fully controlled. Two weeks later, when the colours, tannins and main aromas have delivered their full potential, it is time to drain the vats. This is the moment of truth, each vat containing a wine with its own unique personality. The best wines are selected for Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion and placed in new barrels for 20 to 40 months. Ageing helps to develop the wine, gently oxygenate it and form its character. The wine is then bottled to continue the slow ageing process.