The best of Graves: Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion

Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion have a lot in common: same appellation, same owners, an enviable heritage and the high regard of critics and collectors alike. Haut Brion has achieved more perfect scores (eight) from the Wine Advocate* than any of the other Firsts, while La Mission Haut Brion has a remarkable seven, equal to Lafite Rothschild and Latour, more than Mouton Rothschild and Margaux. *The scores used were the most recent Wine Advocate scores. 

A quick look at their current Market Prices and Wine Advocate scores, however, tells a story of very different pricing and perceived value. While this could partially be attributed to the 1855 Classification, which distinguished Haut Brion as a First Growth and laid out a clear path to its premiumisation, there is more to it than meets the eye.

The wines have followed a similar pattern on the secondary market, as the performance of their indices in the chart below highlights. The First Growth has led the charge, rising 28% over the past three years. Meanwhile, La Mission Haut Brion has followed a similar trajectory, but has risen by a more modest 18%.

However, the last twelve physical vintages of Haut Brion cost 64% more than Mission’s but score a mere 0.7 points higher on average.

The 2005 and 2009 vintages across both wines achieved 100 points from Robert Parker. Still, Haut Brion 2005 is 44% more expensive with a current Market Price of £6,350 per 12×75, compared to £4,400 per case for Mission. Similarly, the 2009 vintage of the Premier Cru commands a 39% premium to Mission ‘09.

Vintages like 2007 further demonstrate the price impact afforded by a First Growth classification: La Mission boasts a higher score from Robert Parker (95) but is available at a 51% discount to Haut Brion, which scored 94 points.

Buyers looking for comparable quality to the Premier Cru at a lower cost could therefore choose from a number of vintages from its neighbouring chateaux. But those set on the First Growth and looking for perfection, might wish to consider its more recent 2015 – the only First to be awarded 100 points by the Wine Advocate, and the cheapest.

For Liv-ex members, there are currently a number of live Mission Haut Brion and Haut Brion offers.

If you are interested, please do take a look at www.liv-ex.com, or email your Account Manager who would be pleased to send you the list in Excel format.