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Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion (Futures Pre-Sale) 2018

Bordeaux Red Blends from Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France
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  • V98
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Winemaker Notes

Blend: 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, and 29% Cabernet Sauvignon

Critical Acclaim

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WS 98
Wine Spectator
This throws off a stream of cassis, cherry preserves and raspberry fruit that is pure and bright, laced with a racy mineral edge through the finish. Stands apart from the pack for its purity and finesse. Really beautiful.
Barrel Sample: 95-98
JS 98
James Suckling
This is really exotic with peaches, oranges and blackberries. Full body, lovely purity of fruit and soft and integrated tannins that are barely detectable. Extremely long and persistent. Savory. White pepper and bark with black-tea and charcoal undertones. Superb complexity. 53 per cent whole-cluster fermentation.
Barrel Sample: 97-98
D 98
Decanter
The march of Carmes Haut-Brion continues in 2018. Once again it stands out for a number of reasons: not least because of its high amount of Cabernet Franc, and also because it is made with 53% whole-bunch fermentation - a brave choice by winemaker Guillaume Poutier and one that pays off hugely in terms of balance and lean muscular build. Even without knowing any of the story behind the bottle, you would be hard-pressed to pass this wine by.

It has obvious intensity but as you sit with it the softness and approachability of the tannins becomes apparent, helped by the inviting floral edge to the nose, adding peony and violet lift. The black fruits running through the palate are tight but silky and seductive - this has a higher Cab count than usual because the Merlots were more affected by the challenges of the vintage. The palate pulses, switching between richness and delicacy, feeling expertly handled. You get the feeling that you can relax - they've got everything covered! It will inevitably close down in a few years, but until then you could almost go for it with a good carafe.
Barrel Sample:98 Points

JD 98
Jeb Dunnuck
In the same realm as the magical 2016, the 2018 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion comes from the talented Guillaume Pouthier, who has this estate firing on all cylinders. Checking in as an interesting blend of 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot, and 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, it was fermented with roughly 40% stems and is expected to spend 18-24 months in 75% new French oak. Its deep purple color is followed by an incredibly pure and complex bouquet of sweet cassis, crushed violets, graphite, smoke tobacco, and beautiful minerality. Medium to full-bodied, flawlessly balanced, and elegant on the palate, it shows a more vibrant, fresh side to the vintage, has terrific tannin quality, and is simply pure class any way you look at it. I was served the 1945 Carmes-Haut-Brion by Guillaume blind, and it reminded me of a ripe, youthful vintage from Haut-Brion. It certainly didn’t taste like a wine approaching 75 years in age! This is a magical terroir which is being maximized by Pouthier today. Believe the hype.Barrel Sample: 96-98
V 98
Vinous
The 2018 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is one of the wines in this vintage that comes very close to its 2016 sibling. A wine of dazzling intensity and stature, Les Carmes Haut-Brion is simply magnificent. Rose petal, wild black cherry, sage, menthol, licorice and dried herbs add myriad shades of complexity to this explosive, dense wine. As always, Les Carmes is done with a fair amount of whole clusters, 40% in this case, but in 2018, the maturity is such that the stems are very well integrated into the wine's fabric. The blend is 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Merlot and 29% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Barrel Sample: 95-98
RP 96
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2018 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is composed of 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Merlot. It was made using 52% whole cluster and has 13.75% alcohol. It is anticipated to age 18-24 months in 75% new oak barriques, 16% foudres and 9% amphorae. Deep garnet-purple colored, it is slightly broody and reduced to begin, slowly growing to reveal notions of charcoal, smoked meats, truffles and tilled soil over a core of black raspberries, warm black cherries, blackberry coulis and redcurrant jelly plus wafts of Provence herbs and iron ore. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is taut and muscular, tense with latent energy, offering a rock-solid backbone of firm, grainy tannins and bold freshness to support the bright, vibrant fruit, finishing long and mineral laced.
Barrel Sample: 94-96+
WE 94
Wine Enthusiast
This wine has bold, ripe black fruits and fine acidity. Its structure shows well through the fruitiness of the wine. This will certainly age well.
Barrel Sample: 92-94
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Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion

Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion

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Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion, France - Other regions
Shortly before he shuffled off his mortal coil, at the age of 101, Jean de Pontac, Lord of the Manor of Haut-Brion, considered he had to earn his seat in heaven.

In 1584, he therefore donated a water-mill, surrounded by meadows and wines, to the Carmelites of Haut-Brion.

The Friars kept the name "Haut-Brion" for 200 years, before common usage gradually changed it into "Carmes Haut-Brion".

It was bought at the beginning of the last century by Léon Colin, a wine negociant in Bordeaux and a direct ancestor of the current owners, the Chantecaille-Furt family.

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Pessac-Leognan

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Recognized for its superior reds as well as whites, Pessac-Léognan on the Left Bank claims classified growths for both—making it quite unique in comparison to its neighboring Médoc properties.

Pessac’s Chateau Haut-Brion, the only first growth located outside of the Médoc, is said to have been the first to conceptualize fine red wine in Bordeaux back in the late 1600s. The estate, along with its high-esteemed neighbors, La Mission Haut-Brion, Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Pique-Caillou and Chateau Pape-Clément are today all but enveloped by the city of Bordeaux. The rest of the vineyards of Pessac-Léognan are in clearings of heavily forested area or abutting dense suburbs.

Arid sand and gravel on top of clay and limestone make the area unique and conducive to growing Sémillon and Sauvignon blanc as well as the grapes in the usual Left Bank red recipe: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and miniscule percentages of Petit Verdot and Malbec.

The best reds will show great force and finesse with inky blue and black fruit, mushroom, forest, tobacco, iodine and a smooth and intriguing texture.

Its best whites show complexity, longevity and no lack of exotic twists on citrus, tropical and stone fruit with pronounced floral and spice characteristics.

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Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.

JOAF520580_2018 Item# 520580