Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2015
• 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 2015 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 24 months in 80% new and 20% one-year-old oak. Deep garnet-purple colored, it has pronounced notes of crushed black and red currants, warm blackberries and black pepper with touches of cedar chest, pencil lead and tilled soil. Medium-bodied, very fine and with plenty of black and red fruit layers, it has a plush backbone and seamless acid, finishing earthy." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (2/21/2018, Interim Issue), Rating: 94+, Drink from: 2021-2039
"The 2015 Les Carmes Haut Brion includes around 45% whole cluster fruit and it went through a four-week ferment with just one pump-over and one pigeage, using a bladder inside the tank to submerge the cap (like an infusion tea). It is aged 10% in clay amphora and 90% in oak barrels, which includes 20% in Stockinger barrels, around 60% new wood. The alcohol degree is 14% and a pH of 3.7. "This vintage is very sensual because of the softness of tannin. I think it is very typical of Pessac," ex-Chapoutier winemaker Guillaume Pouthier told me. The nascent wine is inky purple in color. The nose is very closed and demands a lot of coaxing from the glass, reluctantly giving up black cherries, cassis and iodine scents. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, extremely pure, hints of black olive and Japanese nori infusing the black fruit. It has a very fine structure with good grip on the finish. The Cabernet Franc comes through strongly here, defining the start and finish and in some ways, it needs the Merlot to become more expressive to "fill in the gaps." Of course, that is precisely what élevage is for. This is an intriguing Pessac-Léognan that reminds me of Pomerol (Lafleur perhaps?). Difficult to judge now, I look forward to retasting this once in bottle, because it may well deserve a higher score." - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate (4/27/2016, Issue 224), Ratings: 92-94, Drink: 2025-2050
"The 2015 is an interesting blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and the balance Cabernet Sauvignon that saw a fair amount of whole clusters in the fermentation and 90% of the blend brought up in barrel and the rest in amphoras. Its deep purple color is followed by a beautiful perfumed of ripe currant and plums fruits, chocolate, ground herbs, and damp earth. With full-bodied richness, terrific ripeness, building tannin, and an underlying sense of elegance and purity that only grows with time in the glass, it needs 4-5 years of cellaring but is going to cruise in the cellar for 3-4 decades." - Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com, Rating: 96, Maturity: 2022-2062
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