Les Carmes Haut Brion 2018


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 Rhone, and regularly uses up to half whole bunch fermentation. The 2018 vintage is 13.6 degrees and whole bunches were used for 52% of production. The blend is 37% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot with maturation in 80% new oak, 11% amphora and 9% in big barrels. 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 2018 Les Carmes Haut-Brion was picked from 13 to 28 September, vinified 52% with whole bunch and pigeage only. It is aged in 75% new oak, 16% Stockinger foudres and 9% terracotta amphorae. I love the aromatics here: intense black cherries, violet, black olive compote and orange blossom, all beautifully delineated and focused, the oak seamlessly integrated. The palate is medium-bodied with a structured opening, the whole bunch contribution altering the texture with a slight graininess. Good freshness here, very well balanced with fine tannins and plenty of freshness, this segues into a poised sapid finish with hints of oyster shell on the aftertaste. 2024 - 2050

Score: 94/96Neal Martin, vinous.com, November 2019

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.

Score: 94/96+Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (April 2019), April 2019

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.

Score: 97/98James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, April 2019

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.

Score: 95/98Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, May 2019

The unique winemaking here makes for a very different, complex and enticing nose of almost hoppy, vibrant red fruit that pairs with opulent kirsch, creamy strawberry and milk chocolate. The palate is chalky and rich but very polished, with the density and weight of tannin building through the mid palate to give desceptively rich structure. The fruit is wild and ripe, brambly yet pure, and accented with lifted green spices, almonds, graphite and cherry blossom. This is very complex already for a barrel sample, and very moreish due to the savoury herbal notes that continue on the long finish. This is very much of a style, but it is a style to be applauded. Very different, but perfectly balanced and equally impressive.

Score: 17+Farr Vintners, Farr Tasting, April 2019

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.

Score: 96/98Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com, May 2019

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.

Score: 95/98James Molesworth, Wine Spectator, March 2019

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.

IPT95. Harvested 13-28 September. 3.58pH. Ageing is mostly in large oak casks, 76% new, plus 9% aged in amphorae.

Drinking Window 2027 - 2042

Score: 98Jane Anson, Decanter.com, April 2019

(37 Cabernet Franc, 34 Cabernet Sauvignon, 29 Merlot) | 75% new oak | 13.75% alc | 36000 bottles produced Extremely exotic and perfumed on the nose this is a fabulously flamboyant wine and the oak is massive but also extremely enticing, too. The richness and depth of fruit is sensational and I love the overall balance, even though this is a rather heavy and muscular wine.

Score: 17.5+Matthew Jukes, MatthewJukes.com, April 2019

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.