The 2007 La Mission Haut-Brion is made from 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, and 9% Cabernet Franc. It has a beautiful fruity aroma of blackberry and black cherry. The taste includes forest floor flavours and mocca. The wine finishes on dry tannins. The drawback is that this wine is mainly about upfront fruit, and the intensity is not high (92 points).
The 2007 Haut-Brion has a similar composition: 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc. The wine has a similar bouquet to the Mission, but is more brooding. It is denser, with interesting flavours of tobacco, forest floor and some smokyness. It is a well balanced wine with a lighter oak treatment than in Pauillac: a good, but not a great wine (94 points).
The next stop is at Chateau Haut Bailly, an up and coming winery. I taste three different vintages. The 2012 consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. It has a clove and oak aroma, no doubt from the wood, but on the palate is quite fruity. The blackberry flavours are not very intense. The wine is clearly struggling in this vintage year, but the wine is very balanced, with a good structure (92 points). The 2007, again from a difficult vintage, is still fresh. Redcurrant and blackberry flavours caress the mouth. Soft tannins lead to a smooth finish. This is not a big wine, quite feminine, wonderfully elegant and delicious to drink (95 points). The 2002 is a bigger wine, based on blackcurrant, with a good mouthfeel. It is, however, a little rough, not totally balanced. The tannins are firm on the finish (92 points).
Haut Bailly is a bit of a revelation. You don't have to be big to be beautiful. Pessac-Leognan is perhaps a region in transition. There is not as much gravel as in the Medoc, and the Merlot component is larger, but not as large as on the right bank. And the slightly smoky flavours of Haut Brion are unique in Bordeaux.