Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2019
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.
"Inky purple in colour, with peony and iris aromatics, then a whoosh of freshness that makes your mouth water before you are even halfway through. This is extremely impressive, well balanced, with fine tannins and real discretion but hidden power and depths. Clear floral character, with an austerity that makes you celebrate minerality. There are gourmet touches but the focus is rather on slate, rosemary and crushed stones with hints of chocolate shavings alongside the damson and blackberry fruit. 3.56pH, 80% in casks, 11% 20hl wood and 9% amphoras, 55% whole bunch fermentation (which brings the alcohol down to this relatively low level for the estate's location). A wine to surprise those who think Bordeaux can't deliver understatement. Tannin count of 82IPT." - Decanter Rating: 96, Drink: 2024-2044
"I wasn't able to taste the 2019 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion from barrel, but it certainly brings the goods from bottle. Deep ruby/purple-hued, with a smorgasbord-like array of red, blue, and black fruits as well as violets, candied flowers, tobacco, and sappy herbs, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, a deep, layered, concentrated mouthfeel, flawless balance, and that rare mix of power and elegance that truly great Pessac can deliver. Showing the more elegant style of the vintage, it checks in behind the magical, perfect 2018 but is very much in the style of the 2016. Readers will love having this beauty in the cellar, and it will evolve for 40-50 years if stored correctly. Hats off to winemaker Guillaume Pouthier for another thrilling wine." - Jeb Dunnuck (4/11/2022) Rating: 98, Drink: 2022-2072