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Château Les Carmes Haut Brion, Pessac Léognan, 2020


Colour: Red
Producer: Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion
Region: Bordeaux
Appellation: Pessac Léognan
Grape Variety: Cab Sauvignon Merlot

Château Les Carmes Haut Brion, Pessac Léognan, 2020

Tasting Note:

These suburban vineyards comprised of Mindel gravels on clay and limestone are planted with 39% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 41% Merlot. Guillaume described it as 'a vintage of convictions'. They continued with 55% whole bunch fermentations, which reduces the alcohol content and adds a sapidity. The nose offers aromas of creamy, dark cherry notes, clay, incense and crème de mûre. There’s great intensity to the palate, pure, silky, lovely chewy texture to the fruit, full of blackberries and minerals. The tannins envelope the dark mineral core weaving a gloriously detailed finale laced with Valrhona chocolate and Chambord. This really grows in stature as it unfurls in the glass. Unique and utterly intriguing. Produced from 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Merlot aged in 80% new French oak, 11% foudres and 9% amphora.

"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." 96/100 - Jane Anson,

“Guillaume Pouthier has been making brilliant wines at Les Carmes Haut-Brion for a number of years since he arrived from Chapoutier in 2012. Les Carmes is an odd estate for Bordeaux, as it is ensconced in what is otherwise a very urban setting. French businessman Patrice Pichet purchased the château in 2010 and quickly went about modernizing it with a brand-new winery designed by Philippe Starck and Luc Arsène-Henry. Before that, Les Carmes was a sleepy château with a brilliant track record that had fallen into less glorious times. But the great wines, those of the 1960s, 1950s or earlier, well, those wines routinely embarrass even the most experienced tasters in blind settings, where attempts to identify vintages can be off by a few decades!”

“Currently, Les Carmes is highly unusual for Pessac-Léognan and the Left Bank in general in that it incorporates a high percentage of Cabernet Franc and is also vinified with a healthy percentage of whole clusters, a throwback to how the wines were made here back in the day. The wine is also aged partly in small terra cotta amphorae. Franc is of course common on the Right Bank, but stems have not traditionally been part of how wines are made in Bordeaux. Amphorae are also very new in Bordeaux. They are used in a few places, but mostly in small doses. Many recent vintages of Les Carmes have been superb, with both the Franc and whole clusters adding an exotic character that is quite distinctive but also evident. In 2020, though, all the elements are part of a seamless whole. The 2020 is 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Merlot, picked between September 14 to 26, which is early here. Whole cluster was 55%. Vinification took place over five weeks, using very gentle extraction, with no pumpovers or punchdowns. Aging was 80% new oak, 11% 18HL foudres and 9% amphorae. In tasting, the 2020 is simply magnificent. There are no soloists, just the most exceptionally vivid, breathtaking orchestra imaginable. For its completeness and sheer beauty, the 2020 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is my Wine of the Year.” Antonio Galloni, Vinous

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