2017 Les Carmes Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan (Pre-Arrival)

SKU #1356341 93-96 points Vinous

 The 2017 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is subtle and understated, but it’s all there. Lifted aromatics, bright, red-toned fruit and silky tannins add to the wine's brilliant, chiseled personality. I find the 2017 more precise and nuanced than in the recent past, with less overt power. It's hard to know exactly if the style of the 2017 is a result of the growing conditions of the year, or the result of an evolution in winemaking that includes the introduction of terra cotta, among other things. I certainly get the sense Guillaume Pouthier reined the wine back a bit in 2017. No matter. The end result is all that counts, and in 2017 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is positively stellar. As always, the high percentage of Cabernet Franc and a healthy dollop of whole clusters give Les Carmes an explosive bouquet and plenty of saline-infused energy. A closing flourish of sweet red berry fruit, mint, rose petal and mocha leaves a lasting impression. The 2017 is not an obvious wine, but it sure is gorgeous. Don't miss it! Tasted two times. (AG)  (5/2018)

94-95 points James Suckling

 A tight and linear red with a firm and intense, pretty center palate of blackberry and wet-earth character. Full-bodied, reserved and focused. Really compacted.  (4/2018)

94 points Decanter

 This is gorgeous: peony and iris aromas alongside cocoa-dusted black fruits. A saline note gives a mouthwatering finish. Opens up with time in the glass, and is hugely persistent. There is austerity, as you’d expect with high Cabernet levels, but the energy to the tannins bodes well for ageing. (JA)  (5/2018)

92-94 points Jeb Dunnuck

 Complex damp herbs, underbrush, exotic flowers and ample black fruits emerge from the 2017 Château Les Carmes Haut Brion, which is made by Guillaume Pouthier, who previously worked for Michel Chapoutier in the Northern Rhône Valley. A blend of 41% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon, still aging in 65% new French oak, this medium to full-bodied, rounded, impressively concentrated red will need 3-4 years of bottle age yet keep for two decades. 92-94+  (4/2018)

91-93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a little reticent to begin, opening up to fragrant notes of potpourri and oolong tea over a core of crushed red and black currants plus hints of violets, dark chocolate and cinnamon stick. Medium-bodied, it has an ambitious palate with firm, grainy tannins slightly masking the elegant fruit, finishing with good length though just a tad chewy. (LPB) 91-93+  (4/2018)

89-92 points Wine Spectator

 Fresh cherry compote flavors and a light cassis thread work together, picking up light savory and iron notes. Shows charming energy, with twinges of spice and tobacco through the finish. Pure, but a bit shy on stuffing in the end. (JM)  (4/2018)

K&L Notes

92-94 points Neal Martin: "The 2017 Les Carmes Haut-Brion includes 10% more Cabernet Sauvignon than last year with 45% whole bunch fruit. There is 13.2° alcohol. It is aged in 60% new oak (less than previous years), 30% one-year old oak and 10% amphora that have been baked at 1,200° Celsius instead of 500° Celsius that means there is less oxygen ingress. It has a very pure and strangely, almost Burgundy-like bouquet, perhaps somewhere towards the mid-Côte de Nuits. Dark cherries, wild strawberry, a hint of orange sorbet and later a touch of glycerol. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannin and plenty of sappy, black fruit sprinkled with white pepper and bay leaf. As Guillaume Pouthier mentioned in conversation, there is a linearity to this Les Carmes Haut-Brion and one has to admire the precision and focus on the finish. Afford this five or six years in bottle before approaching and you will have a very delicious and distinctive Pessac-Léognan on your hands." (Vinous, 5/2018)


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By: Ryan Moses | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 4/20/2018 | Send Email
Pessac 2017s that had a good chunk of Cab Franc tended to shine in early tastings where others struggled - such was the case for Carmes Haut Brion (41% this vintage). The aroma is pure cassis where the palate is clean, elegant, and packed with red fruit (strawberry, cherry), tobacco, and very fine tannins. One of those under-the-radar properties that took a big turn for the better in 2014, the 2017 caps off a string of four very fine vintages for Carmes. Drink 2021 to 2032.

Additional Information:

Varietal:

Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

- Cabernet Sauvignon has come a long way from its role as a blending varietal, however dominant, in the wines of Bordeaux. Today it is the most planted red varietal in the world. Identified as a descendent of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be planted in warmer climates to fully ripen. Its small berries can easily be identified for their distinctive blue color, thick skins and high tannins. And while the varietal has its own definitive characteristics: green pepper-like aromas and black currant flavors among them, it is perhaps most prized for its ability to convey terroir, vintage and winemaking. A relatively new varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon started making inroads into the wines of the Médoc and Graves in the late-18th century. Today it is also dominant in the up-and-coming Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux and can also be found in Southwest France. It is the companion varietal to Sangiovese in Italy's Super Tuscans and is planted all over Europe, stretching to lesser-known winegrowing regions like Russia and Lebanon. In the Americas Cabernet Sauvignon has found champions in every nook and cranny of California and among winemakers in Washington, where it complements plantings of Merlot. In South America, Cab thrives in Chile, but can also be found in smaller amounts in Argentina and even in Mexico.
Country:

France

- When it comes to wine, France stands alone. No other country can beat it in terms of quality and diversity. And while many of its Region, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne most obviously, produce wine as rare, as sought-after and nearly as expensive as gold, there are just as many obscurities and values to be had from little known appellations throughout the country. To learn everything there is to know about French wine would take a lifetime. To understand and appreciate French wine, one only has to begin tasting them.
Sub-Region:

Bordeaux

Specific Appellation:

Pessac-Leognan/Graves

- Graves is the large red and white wine region located to the southeast of the city of Bordeaux along the Garonne River. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the red wines from the area, while the whites are mixtures of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The most important area within the Graves is the village of Pessac-Leognan. Most of the great chateaux, including Haut Brion, a premier cru and the only wine outside of the Medoc to be included in the 1855 Classification, are located in this small appellation. Graves derives its name from the rocky, stony terrain of the region. Many people believe that the stony soil radiates the day's heat at night and thus makes the grapes ripen earlier than the other regions in Bordeaux.