Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2018
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 2018 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is composed of 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Merlot. It was made using 52% whole cluster and has 13.75% alcohol. It is anticipated to age 18-24 months in 75% new oak barriques, 16% foudres and 9% amphorae. Deep garnet-purple colored, it is slightly broody and reduced to begin, slowly growing to reveal notions of charcoal, smoked meats, truffles and tilled soil over a core of black raspberries, warm black cherries, blackberry coulis and redcurrant jelly plus wafts of Provence herbs and iron ore. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is taut and muscular, tense with latent energy, offering a rock-solid backbone of firm, grainy tannins and bold freshness to support the bright, vibrant fruit, finishing long and mineral laced." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate, Rating: 94-96+
"The 2018 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a rock star of a wine and is based on a unique blend of 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 29% Merlot that was brought up in 80% new French oak. Offering a deep ruby/purple color as well as a thrilling bouquet of blackcurrants, smoked tobacco, chocolate, violets, damp earth, and truffle, it hits the palate with a full-bodied yet almost understated, building style that carries ripe, supple tannins, gorgeous amounts of smoky black fruits, and an endearing, layered, multi-dimensional texture that keeps you coming back to the glass. A dead ringer for a great vintage of Haut-Brion, it is far from unapproachable today yet needs 7-8 years of bottle age for the fireworks to develop and will have 50-years or more of longevity! Hats off to Guillaume Pouthier for a magical, seamless, singular beauty!"- Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com, Rating: 100, Maturity: 2028-2078
"The 2018 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a total knock-out, just as it was from barrel. Soaring in its aromatic intensity, Les Carmes dazzles from the very first taste. Inky red fruits, mocha, new leather, licorice, dried flowers, sage and mint envelop all the senses. Today, the 2018 appears to be slightly closed, but time brings out tons of aromatic energy and nuance. Cabernet Franc plays the leading role, unusual for this part of the region. Franc aromatics and a fair amount of whole cluster savoriness lend energy but also a feeling of richness without weight that is especially appealing. This is a masterpiece from Les Carmes Haut-Brion and Technical Director Guillaume Pouthier." - Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, 97, Drink: 2026-2048