The wines of Château La Mission Haut-Brion owe their success to the singularity of their terroir, but also to the savoir-faire of the dedicated professionals who achieved such exceptional results.
The Harvest, the culmination of a whole year’s work
To produce great wines, we need beautiful and good grapes. The grapes are harvested by hand according to their ripeness, then sorted and de-stalked (the stalk is separated from the fruit) leaving only the quintessence, which will determine the greatness of the vintage. The fruit is placed in vats, the temperature will gradually increase and fermentation can begin.
“The greatness of a vintage depends on the optimal
quality of each harvested grape.”
From grapes to wine, a moment of truth in the winery
The grapes harvested and the berries placed in vats, the temperature rises… Now it is time for fermentation to begin. Thanks to technology and precise temperature control, the fermentation is fully controlled. Two weeks later, when the colours, tannins and main aromas have contributed their full potential, it’s time to drain the vats. This is the moment of truth, each vat containing a wine with its own unique personality.
The blending, a fundamental step
At Domaine Clarence Dillon, mother company of Château La Mission Haut-Brion, we have developed a centuries-old blending culture, a true expertise and signature. The blending tastings are done as a team, with the Cellar Master, the Vineyard Manager, the Technical Director and the General Manager. They bring together samples from the properties; each person tasting the same wines and all comparing their opinions. The first session is always a blind tasting, so as not to be influenced by the origins of the parcels and thereby give full rein to the senses. Twenty or so vats are tasted and thirty or forty blends are tested before the puzzle eventually falls into place.
Shaping exceptional and unforgettable wines
The best wines are selected for the blend of Château La Mission Haut-Brion red and are matured in barrels for 18 to 20 months. Maturation contributes to wine’s development, gently oxygenates it and smoothens it. The period of maturation is the art of incorporating the barrels’ woodiness into the wine, to ensure that the wood of new barrels never dominates the wine. Every year, the percentage of new barrels is reviewed, according to the vintage’s characteristics and the wine’s profile. The first racking is done three months after the wine has been placed in barrels and is then done every three months or so, using a method called à l’esquive. It is lengthy and challenging, but a traditional task we perpetuate at the estate, because it is the one that handles the wine with the utmost care. During this procedure, an appraisal of the wine’s quality and the decision to stop racking depends solely upon the person who scrutinizes the wine in the glass, assisted simply by the light of a candle, throughout the racking process. Racking ends as soon as the wine appears cloudy.
A truly passionate team of experts
Deputy Managing Director – Wines and Estates
Behind this slightly austere title lies a man devoted to his art. Jean-Philippe Delmas, the third generation of his family in charge of producing Domaine Clarence Dillon’s wines, tells a new story every year. A true artist of wine, he is a writer, drawing on the subject matter given to him by nature and the work of men and women over the seasons to create together the wines that today ensure the renown of Domaine Clarence Dillon around the world.
Two roles, two complementary passions. A scientist and oenologist, he works in tandem with the Cellar Master, like a composer and a librettist, creating the great wine that is coveted by wine lovers all over the world. For Jean-Philippe Masclef, a great wine is one you remember. He and his team focus on a work of perfection, like creating a new opera year after year.
Born in Talence (Bordeaux), Florence Forgas starts her technical studies with a degree in viticulture and oenology, followed by an apprenticeship and an early career in different Bordeaux appellations, from Entre-deux-Mers to Saint-Emilion. She joins Domaine Clarence Dillon in 2014 and becomes Cellar Master, by the side of our Technical Director, Jean-Philippe Masclef. She adds a further skill to her resume by getting the National Oenologist Degree in 2021.
The gallery of artists would not be complete without this man and his team, taking care of the vines. A true gardener, his job is to enhance the quality of the terroir. His role is to produce the best grapes, working tirelessly all year long. Like a luthier, he creates the magnificent instruments to be used by all the other people in this team. A former rugby player, he knows how to get the best out of his staff.