Carmes Haut Brion 2016

Graves

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Tasting Notes

The 2016 Les Carmes Haut-Brion was deeply impressive out of barrel. Now in bottle, does it meet my admittedly high expectations? Yes. Quite deep in color, it delivers the same intense and disarmingly pure bouquet it exhibited during en primeur, offering blackberry, kirsch, fig and pressed iris flowers and wonderful delineation. The palate is medium-bodied, the new oak still prominent but sutured into the fabric of the fruit. There is a discreet sprinkling of cracked black pepper, and the finish is controlled and correct when it might easily have overreached with something more brash. This will age with style, but be warned, it will require several years in the cellar.

Score: 96

Neal Martin, Vinous.com Maturity: 2024-2050 01 January 2019

The 2016 Les Carmes Haut Brion is a blend of 41% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 39% Merlot, with 13.8% alcohol and a pH of 3.55, the lowest acidity for many years. It was vinified in their Philippe Starck-designed "submarine" (this is what their aesthetically arresting winery looks like as it surfaces in the Bordeaux city suburbs!) with 48% whole berry fruit. Winemaker Guillaume Pouthier (ex-Chapoutier) showed me a large inflatable ring used to submerge the cap to create more of an "infusion" rather than a maceration. The 2016 is matured in 65% new oak, 30% one year old and 5% in amphora. It has a very pure, very attractive bouquet with ample blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry and fresh fig aromas, a little more extravagant than some other Pessac-Léognan 2016s, yet it maintains impressive control and focus. It develops more pressed flower aromas with time. The palate is medium-bodied with tannins that gently grip the mouth, tertiary notes on the entry, fine acidity vis-à-vis the fruit, then a slight tarriness towards the broody black fruit on the saline, marine-influenced finish. It is an intriguing take on the vintage, classic in style like many others, detailed with impressive complexity. You know, it is not a million miles away from Lafleur in Pomerol, but in the same sense, it will require a decade in bottle to show what it can do. It is a new benchmark for this estate with big ambitions. Tasted twice with consistent notes.

Score: 95 - 97

Neal Martin, Wine Advocate Maturity: 2026-2050 28 April 2017

The 2016 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is very clearly one of the wines of the vintage. Breathtaking in its beauty, the 2016 soars from the glass with stunning aromatic and flavor intensity. Red cherry jam, wild flowers, mint, blood orange and sage are some of many notes that develop. In the glass, the 2016 is a vivid, statuesque, exotic wine that takes over all the senses as it delivers tons of pure pleasure. Readers should plan on cellaring the 2016 for at least a few years, but that will be virtually impossible. The 2016 is a towering masterpiece from Les Carmes Haut-Brion and Technical Director Guillaume Pouthier. Tasted three times.

Score: 98

Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com Maturity: 2024-2056 01 January 2019

The 2016 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is one of the most distinctive wines of the vintage. A wine of real depth and density, it possesses stunning richness and intensity in all of its dimensions. The high proportion of Cabernet Franc and the 50% whole clusters give notable aromatic lift, saline intensity and drive. Ample, full-throttle and unapologetically intense, Les Carmes Haut-Brion is once again superb. Tasted three times.

Score: 94 - 97

Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com 25 April 2017

The 2016 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a blend of 41% Cabernet Franc, 39% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 65% new and 35% one-year-old oak for 22 months. This is one of the largest percentages of Cabernet Franc for this wine this vintage. Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, it gives notes of kirsch, black raspberries and black plums with touches of cassis, violets, chocolate box and pencil shavings. The palate is medium-bodied, firm, grainy and lively with loads of layers and a long, well-poised finish.

Score: 95

Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate Maturity: 2021-2041 30 November 2018

Dark crimson. Sumptuous texture if not that much flavour at present. Very round and gorgeous with lovely Graves freshness on the finish. Very glossy and winning. Nicely managed tannins.

Score: 17

Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com Maturity: 2024-2040 21 April 2017

A scented nose with fresh fruit, blackcurrant and cassis, star anise and mineral hints. Cool and elegant, this is very well-made with an appealing fresh finish.

Score: 93 - 95

Albany Vintners 19 April 2017

This has the grippy, licorice-accented edge typical of the AOC, along with sappy kirsch and cherry paste flavors. Good energy supplies lift and cut through the finish, putting this half a step ahead of the pack.

Score: 93 - 96

James Molesworth, Wine Spectator 06 April 2017

Extremely long and erudite with crushed stones, blackberries and blueberries. Hints of fresh herbs. Full-bodied, tight and polished. The balance and beauty are amazing. Salty and minerally. More polished than the 2015. Wait and see. From biodynamic grapes.

Score: 96 - 97

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com 24 March 2017