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Les Carmes Haut Brion 2020

Subregion France > Bordeaux > Left Bank > Pessac-Léognan
Grape VarietyMerlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon

This small (7.6 hectare) property is planted with 39% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 21% Cabernet Sauvignon and has a stylish new winery designed by Philippe Starck. Winemaker Guillaume Pouthier previously worked at Chapoutier in the Rhône, and regularly uses up to half whole bunch fermentation. This is currently one of Bordeaux's hottest properties and when we said to Guillaume that the style reminded us of Jamet Côte Rôtie he understood that this was high praise indeed from Farr Vintners!

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Tasting Notes

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. 2025 - 2050.

Neal Martin, vinous.com, May 2021

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, JamesSuckling.com, April 2021

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. 2027 - 2057

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate, May 2021

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.

Drinking Window 2028 - 2048

Jane Anson, Decanter.com, May 2021

The production is down 20% in 2020. It is made from 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Merlot. The abv is 13.6%. This year the proportion of whole bunch fermentation is 55%, the highest ever. It is aged in 80% new French oak, 11% large oak barrels and 9% amphora. Deep ruby colour in the glass. The aroma could not be mistaken for any other wine in Bordeaux - full of green spices from the wholebunch, lightly reductive at this early stage, and bursting with red and blue fruit. There is a light graphite tone too that adds a savoury, cool tone. The palate is grippy and yet full of fruit, rich tannic structure matched by fruit density. Dark cherry, graphite, dried herbs and cedar all come through. A unique take on what Bordeaux can be, with a persistent, moreish finish.

Farr Vintners, Farr Tasting, May 2021

(40% CF, 34% CS, 26% M; 38hl/ha; 13.65% ABV; 80% new)
Dense, sweet, florally fragrant, very lightly minerally; full, fresh, finely but firmly tannic; long and compact, both juicy and linear, pure, transparent-yet-dense, with a succulent, brisk ripe red and black fruit, very long across the palate, effortless, finely defined and tightened by its acidity and tannin; there is a wonderful freshness and vitality here, alongside a very gentle defining texture, and then gorgeous length, particularly perfumed in its persistence. Gorgeous wine, understated but very complete. So fine-textured, it will be accessible fairly early, but keep and develop beautifully, too. 2028–50+.

Michael Schuster, The World of Fine Wine, May 2021
Please note that these tasting notes/scores are not intended to be exhaustive and in some cases they may not be the most recently published figures. However, we always do our best to add latest scores and reviews when these come to our attention. We advise customers who wish to purchase wines based simply on critical reviews to carry out further research into the latest reports.