|Grapes||Cab Franc, Merlot, Cab Sauv|
Dense and broad, with warm dark plum, fig and blackberry confiture flavors rolling over one another, backed by a broad swath of tar and roasted apple wood. This is packed with serious grip, featuring bramble, licorice snap and intense sweet tobacco notes on the back end, all of which combine with the fruit for a powerfully rendered finish. Distinct and impressive. Drinking range: 2025 - 2040 Rating: 95 L&S (Jan 2018)
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The first wine made in the extraordinary and rather beautiful new Philippe Starck-designed chai, which resembles a cross between a submarine and a dreadnought battleship. We'd love to share a photo but it has been firmly embargoed until the unveiling date of the 28th of June. 45% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot. Vinified using a technique learned by winemaker Guillaume Pouthier from Chapoutier in the Rhone, where he previously worked, with layers of destemmed and whole bunch fruit in the vats. They used balloons inflated in the top of the vats to submerge the cap and allow it to infuse very gently, avoiding remontages. Very dark colour, with a surprisingly garnet edge. Rich and plush with patisserie fruit - ripe blueberry pie. Big volume and smooth delivery, still with real expression and this velouté dark fruit. 'Crémeux et sensuelle' says Guillaume. Quite an extreme wine, but but it remains within bounds: nicely done. Rating: 92-94 L&S(Apr 2016)
Very polished and poised with an immensely powerful core of tannin that drives incredible length on the palate. Fruits are deep in the dark-berry spectrum, encapsulating a terrific sense of freshness through the finish. Great wine. Drinking range: 2024 - Rating: 97 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com(Feb 2018)
Cabernets are dominant and 50% whole-bunch pressed. Deep crimson. Smells riper than the Pessacs and Graves tasted so far but still pure dark fruit. Savoury, dry and elegant, more length than depth at the moment and less fruit depth than I expected from the nose, but I think it will flesh out in the bottle. Drinking range: 2020 - 2032 Rating: 16.5 Julia Harding MW, www.JancisRobinson.com(Nov 2017)
This bijou property has way less Cabernet Sauvignon in its blend than its more famous First Growth neighbour, but this certainly doesn’t lack structure or ageing potential in 2015. Mint, dried herbs and dense damson and blackcurrant fruit are supported by a frame of tannin and extract. Impressive stuff. Drinking range: 2025 - 2035 Rating: 93 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com(May 2016)
A Stéphane Derenoncourt wine. Dark crimson. Sweet and thick. Not really enough lift and drive. Not obviously a Graves. Too heavy. Drinking range: 2023 - 2035 Rating: 16 Jancis Robinson MW OBE - www.JancisRobinson.com(Apr 2016)
The 2015 assemblage is 44% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is plush, quite savoury, the black-cherry fruit here really rather smoky and convincing. A beautifully textured style on the palate, plush but nicely formed, with a tense frame beneath the polished and perfumed black cherry and black plum fruit. A lovely ripe poise to the tannins, with a fresh acid backbone giving it lift. This is a really impressive, quite imposing wine, with savoury depths and a long, warming, tannin-rich finish. Rating: 17-18/20 Chris Kissack, www.thewinedoctor.com(Apr 2016)
The highest proportion of Cabernet Franc on the Left Bank at 45%, with just over 1ha of ungrafted vines more than 80 years old. Additional 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. Light touch and great concentration for the future. There’s body, movement and energy to the dark cassis fruit, 70% aged in new oak, 30% in clay amphora. Stéphane Derenoncourt oversees an increasing move to biodynamic farming. One of the best ever wines produced here; an estate to watch. 3.7pH, 14.1%abv. Drinking range: 2023 - 2038 Rating: 95 Jane Anson, Decanter(Apr 2016)
The 2015 Les Carmes Haut Brion is a blend of 30% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon that was cropped at 25 hl/ha between 24 September and 11 October. This vintage includes around 45% whole cluster fruit and it went through a four-week ferment with just one pump-over and one pigeage, using a bladder inside the tank to submerge the cap (like an infusion tea). It is aged 10% in clay amphora and 90% in oak barrels, which includes 20% in Stockinger barrels, around 60% new wood. The alcohol degree is 14% and a pH of 3.7. "This vintage is very sensual because of the softness of tannin. I think it is very typical of Pessac," ex-Chapoutier winemaker Guillaume Pouthier told me. The nascent wine is inky purple in color. The nose is very closed and demands a lot of coaxing from the glass, reluctantly giving up black cherries, cassis and iodine scents. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, extremely pure, hints of black olive and Japanese nori infusing the black fruit. It has a very fine structure with good grip on the finish. The Cabernet Franc comes through strongly here, defining the start and finish and in some ways, it needs the Merlot to become more expressive to "fill in the gaps." Of course, that is precisely what élevage is for. This is an intriguing Pessac-Léognan that reminds me of Pomerol (Lafleur perhaps?). Difficult to judge now, I look forward to retasting this once in bottle, because it may well deserve a higher score. Drinking range: 2025 - 2050 Rating: 92-94 Neal Martin, www.robertparker.com(Apr 2016)
Deliciously pure and velvety, with plum and blackberry sauce notes gliding along, enhanced by black tea and anise accents. Seductive in feel. Rating: 92—95 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator(Apr 2016)
This shows incredible texture with the finest velvet mouthfeel. Super character of chocolate, walnut and orange peel. Great length and subtlety. Lots of whole berry fermentation and maceration gives the wine grace and fruit. Then it kicks in. Great power and structure at the end. Very unique. 45% cabernet franc, 25% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot. 30,000 bottles made. Rating: 96-97 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com(Mar 2016)
Château Les Carmes Haut Brion
The core of this property is a five hectare vineyard, the only one with an address in Bordeaux itself, Carmes Haut Brion (although neighbouring Haut Brion and co. in Pessac). The little vineyard of Carmes HB, with a dominance of Cabernet Franc - very rare in the area - is planted at a high density of ten thousand vines per hectare. It was once part of Haut Brion, but was given by its owner to an order of nuns, the 'Carmes Blanc', hence the name.
When it was bought by property developer Patrice Pichet in 2010, the vat room consisted of three huge vats, one for each grape variety. Since then the vineyard has been completely restructured, and a new winery has been built.
Pichet has also bought one half of a property called Le Thil, and renamed it the 'Clos des Carmes'. As such it is not a second wine, but an entirely different property. The other half was bought by Smith Haut Lafitte.
M Pichet has also built a rather beautiful new chai, designed by Philippe Starck and the architect Luc Arsène-Henry, which resembles a cross between a submarine and a dreadnought battleship. We'd love to share a photo but it has been firmly embargoed until the unveiling date of the 28th of June 2016.
the winemaker/general manager is Guillaume Pouthier, who previously worked at Chapoutier in the Rhone, and he has brought with him the technique of using up to half whole bunch fermentation, creating layers the destemmed and whole bunch fruit in the vats. One to watch.
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