Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2020
• 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.
"Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2020 Les Carmes Haut-Brion issues forth a beguiling array of savory scents—black olives, charcuterie, bouquet garni and Sichuan pepper—over a core of bright redcurrant jelly, black cherries and cassis scents, plus fragrant hints of rose petals and preserved mandarin peel. The medium-bodied palate is refreshing and elegantly styled yet with a rock-solid backbone of firm, finely grained tannins and bags of freshness, finishing long and perfumed. This is a stunning expression of the vintage that should be long lived and age with fantastic grace." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate (5/20/2021), Rating: 95-97, Drink: 2027-2057
"On another level, the flagship 2020 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is one heck of a dense, backward, concentrated wine that’s going to require bottle age. Coming in with the same technical analysis (acidity and alcohol) as the 2018, this full-bodied beauty offers a thrilling nose of blackcurrants, smoked tobacco, charcoal, and gravelly earth. Full-bodied on the palate, with a terrific mid-palate and wonderful purity, it holds things close to its vest yet has flawless balance, impeccable purity, and just a great, lengthy finish. Nevertheless, this is one big bruiser of a wine that’s going to demand bottle age. Do your best to hide bottles for 7-8 years, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following three to four decades." - Jeb Dunnuck, (5/23/2021), Rating: 96-98