Starting out deceptively simple, understated and lithe it slowly built to a dramatic crescendo over the course of the meal. The wine was 2001 La Chapelle di La Mission Haut Brion, Pessac Léognan, the second wine of Chateau La Misson Haut Brion and it is a wonderful, classically styled Bordeaux.
Wines like this are so differently conceived that it is hard to compare them to today’s powerhouse style of winemaking. I can see how someone accustomed to the obvious charms of Napa Cabernet or Australian Shiraz would find such a wine hard to understand. The La Chapelle was all about nuance and finesse and, most of all, it is designed to be a harmonious component of a meal. As you sip this wine with your food it weaves a web of complexity that expands and focuses your senses on the complete experience of dining. Perhaps the biggest contrast that such wines have with so many of today’s wines is that the La Chapelle was actually refreshing to drink. The 12.5% alcohol also is a big difference enabling you to enjoy several glasses and to really experience it’s swirling, changing characteristics as you get to know this wine better.
The best wines should become more complex as you drink them. However, all to many wines are one-trick-ponies that offer little after the first bombastic sip. Like Boléro, the end should be more exciting than the beginning.