Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion was originally part of the Château Haut-Brion property, up until the 16th Century (1584) when the owner donated the property to the Carmes monks who went on to manage the vineyards until the French Revolution. During the revolution the property was confiscated and finally sold to the Chantecaille-Furt family who went on to manage the property from 1850 to 2010.
Despite selling the property to Patrice Pichet in 2010, the last member of the Chantecaille family still lives at the Château to this day, now aged 102. It is amazing to imagine the changes Bijou Chantecaille has witnessed in the Bordeaux region since her birth at the property in 1917.
The new owner Patrice Pichet is a local Bordelaise boy-done-good. Setting up a real estate business back in 2004, it has now become one of France’s largest - employing over 1,500 people. Patrice has always had a passion for wine and after making his fortune in real estate, he was keen to acquire a leading Château.
The changes made at the estate since his acquisition are quite staggering. No more so than in the striking new winery designed by superstar designer Phillipe Starck, shaped like a blade and partly submerged in water. Due to the government protection of the land, the architect was keen to produce something that wouldn’t interrupt the surrounding area. The result is a design like the bow of a boat, which is in fact an optical illusion making the winery look smaller than it actually is. It is a remarkable site and the inside is as impressive as the outside. The barrel cellar for ageing the wines is at the bottom of the building, fully submerged in the local stream, providing natural temperature control and high humidity levels ideal for the ageing of the wine.
Bordeaux’s investment in sustainable viticulture, soil analysis, intra-plot selection and countless, inventive vinification techniques and experimentation belies the reputation of a region that is resting on its laurels and stuck in its ways. Château 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.