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2015 Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion
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The 2015 Les Carmes Haut Brion is a blend of 30% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon that was cropped at 25 hl/ha between 24 September and 11 October. This vintage includes around 45% whole cluster fruit and it went through a four-week ferment with just one pump-over and one pigeage, using a bladder inside the tank to submerge the cap (like an infusion tea). It is aged 10% in clay amphora and 90% in oak barrels, which includes 20% in Stockinger barrels, around 60% new wood. The alcohol degree is 14% and a pH of 3.7. "This vintage is very sensual because of the softness of tannin. I think it is very typical of Pessac," ex-Chapoutier winemaker Guillaume Pouthier told me. The nascent wine is inky purple in color. The nose is very closed and demands a lot of coaxing from the glass, reluctantly giving up black cherries, cassis and iodine scents. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grain tannin, extremely pure, hints of black olive and Japanese nori infusing the black fruit. It has a very fine structure with good grip on the finish. The Cabernet Franc comes through strongly here, defining the start and finish and in some ways, it needs the Merlot to become more expressive to "fill in the gaps." Of course, that is precisely what élevage is for. This is an intriguing Pessac-Léognan that reminds me of Pomerol (Lafleur perhaps?). Difficult to judge now, I look forward to retasting this once in bottle, because it may well deserve a higher score.
Neal Martin - eRobertParker.com #224 (Apr 2016)
Deliciously pure and velvety, with plum and blackberry sauce notes gliding along, enhanced by black tea and anise accents. Seductive in feel.
J.M. - Wine Spectator
The highest proportion of Cabernet Franc on the Left Bank at 45%, with just over 1ha of ungrafted vines more than 80 years old. Additional 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. Light touch and great concentration for the future. There’s body, movement and energy to the dark cassis fruit, 70% aged in new oak, 30% in clay amphora. Stéphane Derenoncourt oversees an increasing move to biodynamic farming. One of the best ever wines produced here; an estate to watch. 3.7pH, 14.1%abv.
This shows incredible texture with the finest velvet mouthfeel. Super character of chocolate, walnut and orange peel. Great length and subtlety. Lots of whole berry fermentation and maceration gives the wine grace and fruit. Then it kicks in. Great power and structure at the end. Very unique. 45% cabernet franc, 25% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot. 30,000 bottles made.
Once again, Les Carmes Haut-Brion stakes its place as one of the most distinctive wines being made in Bordeaux. The 2015 exudes richness, power and intensity. Layers of dark red stone fruit, cedar, tobacco, smoke and pomegranate build as the wine shows off its voluptuous personality. Les Carmes Haut-Brion stands out for many reasons, including its high percentage of Cabernet Franc, which is unusual in Pessac. In 2015, winemaker Guillaume Poutier also added a dollop of whole clusters to give the wine more aromatic lift. The use of whole clusters is of course quite common in Burgundy and the Rhône (were Poutier formerly made the wines at Chapoutier), but is very rarely seen in Bordeaux. This full-throttle Pessac will drink well for decades, but it also needs time to shed some of its considerable baby fat. The blend is 44% Cabernet Franc, 32% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Sauvignon. Simon Blanchard is the consulting winemaker. Tasted three times.