This is gorgeous. Very elegant, fine and floral, with lovely delicacy and salintiy. There’s much purity to the fruit, with lovely lift and acidity, and balance in spades. The finish unfurls violets and stones, and tons of red fruit. Wonderful and saline, and so much energy.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Ready 2018 - 2025
Prices shown in bond
Young 2026 - 2042
Ready 2020 - 2034