A relatively tiny domaine with only 12 acres under vine, this was part of Haut-Brion in the middle ages. Galloni calls this one of the most distinctive wines of the vintage. "A wine of real depth and density, it possesses stunning richness and intensity in all of its dimensions. The high proportion of Cabernet Franc and the 50% whole clusters give notable aromatic lift, saline intensity and drive. Ample, full-throttle and unapologetically intense." It would be fascinating to taste this alongside Haut-Brion, which costs almost 7 times as much.
NOTE: PRE-ARRIVAL OFFERING; WINE ARRIVES IN FALL 2019; YOUR ORDER IS NOT FINAL UNTIL CONFIRMED BY YOUR WINE SCOUT."
The 2016 Les Carmes Haut Brion is a blend of 41% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 39% Merlot, with 13.8% alcohol and a pH of 3.55, the lowest acidity for many years. It was vinified in their Philippe Starck-designed "submarine" (this is what their aesthetically arresting winery looks like as it surfaces in the Bordeaux city suburbs!) with 48% whole berry fruit. Winemaker Guillaume Pouthier (ex-Chapoutier) showed me a large inflatable ring used to submerge the cap to create more of an "infusion" rather than a maceration. The 2016 is matured in 65% new oak, 30% one year old and 5% in amphora. It has a very pure, very attractive bouquet with ample blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry and fresh fig aromas, a little more extravagant than some other Pessac-Léognan 2016s, yet it maintains impressive control and focus. It develops more pressed flower aromas with time. The palate is medium-bodied with tannins that gently grip the mouth, tertiary notes on the entry, fine acidity vis-à-vis the fruit, then a slight tarriness towards the broody black fruit on the saline, marine-influenced finish. It is an intriguing take on the vintage, classic in style like many others, detailed with impressive complexity. You know, it is not a million miles away from Lafleur in Pomerol, but in the same sense, it will require a decade in bottle to show what it can do. It is a new benchmark for this estate with big ambitions. Tasted twice with consistent notes.