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1947 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion

January 28, 2016

Probably a once-in-a-lifetime tasting experience (at least for an amateur oenophile like myself) came my way unexpectedly during dinner on 26 January 2016 at Chef Kang’s when a magnum bottling of 1947 Ch La Mission Haut Brion was proffered by a newly-acquainted wine collector just recently introduced to us. There was no prior announcement nor any leak down the grapevine amongst our inner circle that this would be happening. My limited experience with old Bordeaux only went as far back as a 1964 Ch Cheval Blanc and the very thought of a 1947 was absolutely mind-blowing. The bottle certainly looked the part, with its label stained and capsule worn although the ullage was surprisingly good, up to upper shoulder. The owner of this bottle had purchased it from Les Amis some time ago for a small fortune, enough to buy a brand new car in UK or Australia. Nobody dared to pop the cork for such a precious bottle, but Dr Ngoi rose to the occasion, gingerly inserting a pair of blades into the rim of the cork and gently coaxing it out of the bottle. Any possibility of finding a 1947 Bordeaux on the open market must be approached with caution, in case the likes of Rodenstock or Kurniawan have managed to conjure up something. To our relief, the cork held together very well, certainly appearing to be rather soft but genuine-looking.

We poured the wine, which was an opaque murky brown, without decanting for we didn’t know whether it would survive too much aeration. However, we probably needn’t have worried. How does a 1947 claret taste like 69 years after its vintage? The wine was highly perfumed on the nose with notes of sweet incense, smoke and characters of dried plums. On the palate, it displayed the distilled essence of glorious berries past that still retained very good levels of concentration and fine acidity, not at all hollow nor medicinal nor burly, but smooth, rounded and gentle, linear all the way to its extended finish where an afternote of ash still lingered. I wouldn’t pretend that this is still a great wine at this stage (the 1990 Ch Montrose that preceded immediately would fit that definition). Rather, the 1947 La Mission Haut Brion is now absolutely unique and, to our surprise, it stayed that way till the end of dinner without fading off. What a great privilege this has been for me. Thank you very much Sir K….You have been most generous.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Stefan permalink
    February 3, 2016 01:27

    Never have seen a cork from Mission like this. The vintage should be on the lower end and is printed vertical and not horizontal. Also this is the new lettering they use now at La Mission. In the ’40 s it was another one. Has it been recorked ? Looks very new to me.

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