Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2014
• Domaine: Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion
• Appellation: Pessac-Léognan
• Classification: Grand Vin de Graves, Bordeaux
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a wine that harmonizes radiance, power, and depth. This stunning expression of Pessac-Léognan terroir has a hefty amount of Cabernet Franc, which is unusual for the Left Bank. The property is currently helmed by Patrice Pichet, who coveted the vineyards for many years. After acquiring the property in 2010, he spared no expense in renovations as he wanted Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion to express the fullest potential of its terroir. Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is, without a doubt, an extraordinary producer in its own class.
Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion has a history that is inextricably linked with the Pessac-Léognan First Growth property, Château Haut-Brion. Jean de Pontac of Haut-Brion gifted a water mill to a group of friars in the middle of what would later become the treasured vineyards of Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion. The vineyard was named after a group of Carmelites who managed the estate from as early as 1584 until the French Revolution in 1789. The property was purchased by the Léon Colin family in 1840. It stayed with their descendants for generations until the estate was sold to Patrice Pichet in 2010. Pichet heads up a successful real estate company in Bordeaux, Groupe Pichet. The estate had a massive renovation of the château and winemaking facilities. Architect Philippe Starck created a new barrel room featuring a gravity fed cellar that is designed to look like a boat floating over a body of water. This impressive cellar is accessed by a series of bridges and was inspired by the idea that Bordeaux wines were first exported via ships.
Though the property is a sprawling 29.6 hectares, only 7.6 of those vines are used to produce the grand vin of Château Les Carmes Haut Brion. The property is planted with 41 percent Merlot, 39 percent Cabernet Franc and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The estate can be divided into 17 different parcels. Cabernet Franc runs the show at this estate, and Château Les Carmes Haut Brion has some vines that are almost 90 years old. The choicest parcels are located closest to the château, yet there are other parcels located near Château Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut Brion. The grapes are whole berry vinified and the entire winemaking process is all about gentle extractions to preserve subtle freshness. Because of this, the grand vin is exceedingly soft with an almost oceanic mineral characteristic to the wine. The wine is vinified in a combination of stainless steel, wood and cement fermenters which provide the grand vin a variety of different characteristics and complexity. The viticultural team at Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is never afraid to experiment with newer techniques and recently a small portion of Château Les Carmes Haut Brion has been vinified in clay amphorae. Without a doubt, Château Les Carmes Haut Brion is one of the more unique producers in the Left Bank, perfect for oenophiles looking for a truly different expression of Pessac-Léognan terroir.
"The Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2014 is a blend of 54% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines that are being converted to organic, undergoing a 30-day cuvaison with 15% to 40% whole clusters. Around 74% of the crop is matured in 80% new oak, 16% in 1,200-liter oak foudres and the remainder in 1-year old oak. Winemaker Guillaume Pouthier (ex-Chapoutier) has fashioned a bold and opulent bouquet with macerated black cherries and boysenberry jam. But it does not really 'sing' of "Pessac-Léognan", not at the moment. The palate is medium-bodied with dry tannin on the entry, but then there is a wave of ripe, black, grainy fruit infused with graphite and cedar and it finishes in a bravura fashion with a seam of coconut Originting from the oak. I would want to just check how the oak integrates with time by bottling and it may merit a higher score then. It's gonna need a top wine to match the architectural ambitions of its Philippe Starck-designed winery - this is certainly going in the right direction." - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate (4/29/2015, Issue 218), Ratings: 90-92, Drink: 2018-2032
"I tasted the 2014 Château les Carmes Haut Brion (54% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon) last year at the estate, yet it showed even better this year and has gained both depth and richness. Possessing an inky purple color and beautiful notes of blueberries, currants, exotic flowers, bay leaf and a hint of graphite, this medium to full-bodied 2014 has polished tannin, impressive mid-palate depth, and a layered, elegant texture that’s already hard to resist. Like most 2014s it shines for its elegance and purity more so than power and richness. Enjoy bottles anytime over the coming two to three decades." - Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com, Rating: 94, Maturity: 2020-2050
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