“This is extremely impressive, well balanced, with fine tannins and real discretion but hidden power and depths.”
96 POINTS - JANE ANSON, DECANTER
Today sees the release of one of the most forward-thinking and radical estates in the whole of Bordeaux - Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion. This wine is always in huge demand during en primeur due to a strong following and relative low production for the region. Currently Jane Anson is the only leading critic to have tasted the wine, highlighting it as one of her top-rated picks of Pessac-Leognan.
Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion is, without doubt, one of the leading lights in this new wave of Bordeaux producers pushing the boundaries of grape quality, cutting-edge vinification techniques and a greater focus on terroir identity.
Les Carmes Haut-Brion is the only winery in Bordeaux that is fully located in the city of Bordeaux. Due to it proximity to the city, its climate is in fact 2-3 degrees warmer than the other vineyards of Pessac-Leognan, often harvesting up to 10 days earlier than the rest of the appellation. This in fact better protects the estate from the spring frosts and enables them to fully ripen their Cabernet Franc - which is another distinct element to the property. The Chateau has the highest proportion of Cabernet Franc in a blend on the Left Bank. The Cabernet Franc dominant blend, coming from limestone/clay soils, makes for a very unique expression of Pessac-Leognan, unlike any other wine in the appellation.
In 2010, Patrice Pichet hired Guillaume Pouthier to manage the property. A winemaker from the Rhone valley he brought his own winemaking influences, including the use of whole bunch fermentation to the vinification. For Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion, it has a very positive effect on the wine. Due to the warmness of the site, they use the high level of mineral salts in the stems to affect the pH, the alcohol levels are also reduced due to the water found in the stems, as well as bringing an aromatic complexity to the wine. The aromatics in the wine are also further increased by experimentation with clay and ceramic amphorae.
With only 7.6 hectares under vine, production is tiny in the grand scheme of Left Bank chateaux, meaning there is fantastic attention to detail in both vineyard and winery. Sadly it also means availability is extremely limited - and with such a strong performance in 2019, this wine is very likely to sell-out fast.
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"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. Drinking Window 2024 - 2044"
96 POINTS - JANE ANSON, DECANTER