Just prior to the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show, L’Atelier Imports unveiled its newest regular production line called La Mission du L’Atelier. After focusing much of 2014 on line extensions to the L’Atelier branded products, this marks the first regular production L’Atelier branded line released since 2013. La Mission is a blend that is intended to offer a stronger / fuller offering in the portfolio. As we will discuss, it is also an line that draws its inspiration from the wine industry. Recently, I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the La Mission du L’Atelier in the “1959” (Robusto) vitola. Since its inception in 2012, L’Atelier Imports has delivered many excellent releases – and La Mission du L’Atelier 1959 lives up to the excellence of its predecessors.
The name La Mission comes pays homage to a French winery called Château La Mission Haut-Brion. This winery is located in the Pessac-Léognan region – just southeast of Bordeaux. Château La Mission Haut-Brion is known for producing some very full-bodied cigars. Given the La Mission blend is meant to be a fuller offering, the name is appropriate for this cigar line.
Without further ado, let’s break down La Mission du L’Atelier 1959 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
La Mission du L’Atelier uses a San Andres Mexican wrapper. While a San Andres wrapper was previously used on the L’Atelier Surrogates Satin Glove release, this is first L’Atelier branded cigar to utilize this wrapper. As with all L’Atelier branded products, it incorporates Sancti Spiritus tobacco – this time in the filler.
Sancti Spiritus is a tobacco leaf grown by the Oliva family with a seed from the Garcia family. It is a hybrid of Criollo and Pelo de Oro and was designed as a replacement seed for Pelo de Oro. The wrapper itself has a strong resistance to mold.
La Mission du L’Atelier is made at the My Father Cigars Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Filler: Nicaraguan, Sancti Spiritus
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (My Father SA)
Each size of La Mission du L’Atelier is a box-pressed offering. The box-press is s “softer” box-press that is slightly rounded. The vitola names are named for a vintage year when the Château La Mission Haut-Brion wine received a 100 point designation by Robert Parker. Parker is well known in the wine industry for his “Parker Points” – an assessment scale of various wines. The 100 point rating is the highest ranking on this scale and a wine with this rating is considered “extraordinary”. Château La Mission Haut-Brion has earned this honor seven times.
Currently, there are three vitolas offered for La Mission du L’Atelier. There are plans to expand the line to seven in the future to cover each of the years the 100 point designation was achieved.
Each of the sizes are packaged in 18 count boxes. The three initial sizes are the same size as the original core L’Atelier line.
1959: 4 3/4 x 52
1989: 5 5/8 x 54
2009: 6 1/2 x 56
Sizes and timeframe for the four additional vitolas planned (1955, 1982, 2000, and 2005) have not been disclosed.
The San Andres wrapper of the La Mission du L’Atelier 1959 has a chocolate brown color. Upon closer examination, there is some darker marbling that can be seen on the surface. There is a light coating of oil on the wrapper. There are some visible veins, but the darker color of the wrapper does a good job at hiding the wrapper seams. The cigar is finished with a short, thick pig-tail.
La Mission du L’Atelier features an all-new band design for the L’Atelier Imports line. The center of the band features a light yellow circular background trimmed in gold. On the center of that circle is a gothic styled red “M”. Above the “M” is the text “LA MISSION” in small black font arranged in a curved fashion. Below the “M” is the text “L’ATELIER” – also in small black font arranged in a curved fashion. The remainder of the front of the band has black and gold adornments. To the left and right of the circular background is the text “NICARAGUA” that is “etched” on the gold background. On the far left and right are gold, black, and red stripe patterns. On the far right is a small gold L’Atelier leaf logo. Finally the band is trimmed in light yellow.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
As opposed to pulling the pig-tail off of the La Mission du L’Atelier 1959, I opted for a straight cut to remove both the tail and cap. I then moved on to the pre-light draw stage. The dry draw delivered a mix of dark chocolate, earth, cedar spice, and a slight floral note. Overall, I considered the pre-light draw of La Mission to be outstanding. At this point, I was ready to be outstanding. At this point I was ready to light up La Mission and see what this cigar would bring to the table.
The La Mission du L’Atelier 1959 started out with notes of earth, chocolate, and white pepper. It didn’t take long for the earth and chocolate notes to move into the forefront. The pepper notes became secondary and were soon joined by a slight citrus note. Meanwhile the retro-hale produced notes of black pepper.
Throughout the first third of the La Mission 1959, the chocolate and earth alternated in intensity in terms of what was the primary note. By the second half, the earth notes took over as the primary note. The chocolate notes moved into the background joining the citrus and pepper notes. While the pepper notes were in the background, they slowly started to increase.
In the last third of the La Mission 1959, the pepper notes continued to move toward the forefront, but didn’t quite eclipse the earth notes. This is how the the flavor profile of La Mission 1959 came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the ouch and cool in temperature
Burn and Draw
From a burn perspective, I found the La Mission du L’Atelier 1959 to perform well. The cigar took a straight burn path from start to finish. There was a slight amount of jagged-ness on the burn line, but this didn’t prove to be problem-some and it didn’t require any excessive touch-ups. The resulting ash was on the firm side. The ash itself had a silvery gray color with some darker streaks mixed in. The combustion performed quite well as the La Mission 1959 had an ideal burn temperature and burned at an ideal rate.
The draw performed quite well. There was a touch of resistance on the cigar. Usually I prefer a little resistance on a parejo as opposed to a box-press. In the case of the 1959, I found the softer design of this box-press made the slight resistance work in favor of this cigar.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength and body, I did find the La Mission du L’Atelier 1959 to be one of the stronger and more robust offerings in the L’Atelier Imports portfolio. I found the La Mission 1959 started out medium to full in both strength and body. Both attributes progressed at a relatively even rate and by the second half, I found both the strength and body crossed into full territory. When looking at strength versus body, I found neither attribute overshadowed the other.
2015 has been a very good year for San Andres wrapper cigars. While I’ve often been critical in the past of cigars with this wrapper, many San Andres cigars released in 2015 have been very good – and La Mission du L’Atelier is one of them. Overall I found the La Mission du L’Atelier 1959 to be an enjoyable cigar. While I wouldn’t call this an overly complex cigar, this cigar still had a nice flavor profile. Given this is a stronger and fuller cigar, it is one that I would recommend to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again – and it’s certainly one worthy of a box split.
Strength: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Body: Medium to Full (1st Half), Full (2nd Half)
Assessment: 3.5-Box Split