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 (May 2021)Score: 96-98/100
Clear violet edging to the colour, vibrant and enticing. This is elegant and full of personality, with high floral aromatics, a ton of dark fruits, and a blueberry dominance that gives a classic Carmes Haut Brion feel. Slightly austere, slightly bitter, both in the best possible expression of those terms, where it is mouthwatering and moreish. A juicy salinity ensures this is a wine that doesn't overpower, its flavours are revealed slowly and carefully, tugging backwards, with a texture that heads towards linen rather than silk - meaning that you don't glide through, you carefully step through well-placed tannins and fruits. There is clear delicacy here, and with 55% whole bunch fermentation - the highest level that they have done to date. 3.62pH (they harvested this at almost 1% ABV higher), fermented with their own natural yeasts. Highest percentage of the two Cabernets on recent record (before 2010 Carmes was regularly at 50% Merlot). Strong candidate for the score moving upwards when in bottle.
Jane Anson, Decanter (May 2021)Score: 96/100Drink 2028-2048
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 MW, Wine Advocate (May 2021)Score: 95-97+/100Drink 2027-2057
The 2020 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is dazzling, but it is also a wine of reserve and understatement. I image it will be some years, at the very least, be fore the 2020 is ready to show all it has to offer. Today, it is not particularly expressive. The aromatics, which are usually so penetrating are quite shy, although the significant presence of Cabernet Franc that distinguishes this wine comes through in its energy and sense of drive. I can't wait to taste the 2020 from bottle, and won't be at all surprised if it turns out even better than this note suggests.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous (May 2021)Score: 95-97+/100Drink 2035-2060
The 2020 Les Carmes Haut-Brion was picked at 38hl/ha and matured in 80% new oak, 11% foudres and the remainder in clay amphorae. It has an intense bouquet of blackberry and wild strawberry, plus some light torrefactory scents, undergrowth and black pepper, all delineated and focused. The palate is medium-bodied with beautifully defined black fruit and delicate touches of mint, bell pepper and cracked black pepper. Though it shares the same surname, it is interesting to see how, stylistically, it is cut from a totally different cloth than Haut-Brion and La Mission, which each possess their own distinct attributes. Quite thickly textured and weighty on the finish with a long, spicy aftertaste, this is a serious Les Carmes Haut-Brion with a very long future ahead.
Neal Martin, Vinous (May 2021)Score: 94-96/100Drink 2025-2050
Exotic fruit aromas of blackberry, blueberry, peach and orange peel. It's full-bodied with a vertical flow of layered, chewy tannins that are integrated and intense. Extremely polished and focused. Crushed stone to the fruit in the aftertaste. Some bark and forest flowers, too. Great potential.
James Suckling (April 2021)Score: 97-98/100
This starts a little reticent, a dark brooding nose that slowly opens to reveal a lovely balancing concoction of aromas across the fruit and floral spectrum. Fresh blackcurrant chimes with greener herbal notes giving lift to the nose and an overwhelming sense of freshness. The tannins are concentrated, detailed, fully resolved and – more than anything – they have an energy that excites the palate. The clarity of fruit is exceptional, it almost feels like you are crunching on fresh berries – it is pristine. This is beautifully balanced, awash with freshness, while the lovely Cabernet Franc herbal notes add florals and lift to the palate.
FINE+RARE (April 2021)