|Subregion||France > Bordeaux > Left Bank > Pessac-Léognan|
This small (7.82 hectare) property is planted with 35% Merlot, 44% 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!
The yield in 2022 was 41 hl/ha (down 15% on 2021). There was 70% whole bunch used (the highest ever) which has helped keep the alcohol down to 13.5%. It is 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Merlot with all varieties co-fermented. The harvest commenced on September 5th.
The remarkable 2022 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a strong candidate for the title of wine of the vintage. It's also one of the most singular, characterful wines being produced in the region today. Unfurling in the glass with complex aromas of blackberries and cherries mingled with notions of exotic spices, orange zest, pencil lead, rose petals and vine smoke, it's medium to full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with a velvety attack that segues into a layered, seamless and multidimensional mid-palate framed by rich, powdery tannins. Pure, perfumed and penetrating, this blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Merlot is a brilliant success that caps a decade of relentless work by Guillaume Pouthier and his team that have seen Les Carmes Haut-Brion emerge as one of Bordeaux's leading estates. It checks in at a mere 13.5% alcohol, with a very healthy pH of 3.64.
I think one of the legendary wines in the vintage will be the 2022 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion, which comes from a tiny vineyard not far from Haut-Brion and is based on 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Merlot, vinified with 70% whole clusters, and aged 70% in new barrels, 20% in foudre, and 10% in amphora. Despite mostly being not destemmed, you wouldn't know it by tasting it. It has a classic bouquet of ripe blackberries, cassis, leafy herbs, graphite, and violets, while in contrast, the C Des Carmes Haut-Brion, which is vinified with just 30% stems, is clearly marked more by its stems. Full-bodied, concentrated, beautifully balanced, and with a rare mix of purity, freshness, and power, it's going to rival the 2018 as one of the finest vintages ever produced from this address. It's worth noting this estate has a unique terroir in Pessac that includes some limestone in the soils, and this worked particularly well in 2022. Don't miss this wine.
An exceptional wine in 2022 by winemaker Guillaume Pouthier who has delivered a supremely drinkable, likeable and harmonious wine that perfectly balances fruit density, aromatic expressiveness, lively acidity and a less is more approach. Intensely fragrant on the nose, nuanced and expressive, open and beguiling with rose, jasmine, bramble fruit, red cherry, liquorice and slate. Tense and a touch strict on the palate, electric and thrilling with bright acidity and tannins that come in and give weight and texture to the frame. Crushed velvet, smooth and salty, not plump or overly plush, instead well defined, focussed and precise. Silky, elegant with crystalline purity. A beautiful style married to a philosophy that works in hot vintages using whole bunch fermentation to lower the alcohol and give freshness to the wine. A standout success and a wine we’re going to want to finish. 3.64ph. 70% whole cluster. Ageing 70% new barrels, 20% 18hl casks, 10% amphoras.
The 2022 Les Carmes Haut-Brion was picked 5-20 September with 70% whole bunches (three vats contained 100% whole cluster that was cofermented), matured in 70% new oak, 20% in 18hL casks and 10% in amphora. It underwent a long, six-week infusion in the vat at a maximum 26° Celsius, just over a week longer than usual. It is extremely precise on the nose with blackberry, briary, crushed stone and hints of curry leaf. The palate is just beautiful. Sculpted tannins, fine-boned, lending this Les Carmes unerring symmetry and focus. This is loaded with mineral-laden dark berry fruit and feels seamless toward the finish. I am not inclined toward hyperbole, nevertheless, this is the best Les Carmes that Guillaume Pouthier has overseen. 2030-2070
Carmes is a real success in 2022. The signature style is there in abundance but here, it is measured, fresh, balanced and purposeful rather than purely stylised. Spicy black fruit, rosemary and black cherry fruit leap from the glass on the nose. The palate is remarkably smooth for all the whole bunch in the wine. Glossy, grippy and refined, the tones of pencil shavings are subtle, instead revealing generous black fruit and cloaked tannins, a line of deceptive freshness keeping everything in check. Expansive on the finish, this should only improve with elevage and it will deserve a very high score in bottle.
This is so umami with sea urchin character that gives you sea salt and dried seaweed aromas and flavors. The integrity and richness is so impressive with an exotic character, yet it is so classic and fine in structure. 13.5% alcohol. 70% whole cluster fermentation. 40% cabernet franc, 35% cabernet sauvignon and 25% merlot. A new model for Bordeaux?
The 2022 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 26% Merlot, 90% aging in oak (70% new barriques, 20% 18hl casks) and 10% in amphoras. Deep garnet-purple in color, it pops out of the glass with lifted notes of redcurrant jelly, wild blueberries, blackcurrant pastilles, and lavender, leading to cerebral wafts of cast-iron pan, dark chocolate, and dusty soil with a hint of licorice. The red and black berry flavors do pirouettes on the medium-bodied palate, featuring incredibly fine-grained tannins and fantastic tension that gives a shimmer to the very long mineral-laced finish. As usual, the alcohol is 13.5% (the stem inclusion absorbs some of the alcohol during fermentation) and the pH is 3.64. This is a vibrant, showy, immediately impactful wine that flies in the face of traditional Bordeaux, carrying it off with bags of grace and style. A slight carbonic character from the whole bunch juxtaposed by a rock-solid structure thanks to the ripe stem tannins creates a unique signature. I personally love it, but if you're a Bordeaux purest, this might not be your cup of tea.
This is a truly delicious Pessac Léognan that shows just how much Carmes Haut-Brion sets itself apart, showing grip and stretching out through the palate. Don't expect the same character as you are going to find elsewhere in this vintage. Fragrant aromatics, roses, violets, crushed rocks, fennel, aniseed, with texture and tannic heft. Fresh dark fruits, edges of bitter Bendick mints, smoked caramel, slate. 70% whole bunch, no irrigation, cover crops intead on the clay limestone soils (when picked the grapes were at 14.4%, came down to 13.5% after vinification with use of stems and specific yeast). 40hl/h yields, 70% new oak, 3.6ph.
40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot. 70% whole bunch. Cask sample.
Deep crimson colour. Slightly reserved aromatically but floral notes (lily, iris) as it opens. Dense with a beautifully suave texture, the tannins powerful but refined. Luscious but fresh and long on the finish, the oak (70% new barrels) completely absorbed. Both seductive and restrained. Marked freshness for the year. Will need to check the evolution. (JL) 13.5%
Drink 2028– 2047