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Les Carmes Haut Brion 2020 (750ML)

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Critic Scores, Reviews & Descriptions

100 VM / 100 DE / 98 WI / 97 WA / 97 JA / 97-98 JS / 96-98 JD

Vinous Wine of the Year 2022 - Antonio Galloni

The 2020 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a total stunner. For the first time I can remember, Les Carmes Haut-Brion marries all of its elements so well that nothing stands out. In the past, the high percentage of Franc and/or the whole clusters were evident. The 2020 is the first modern vintage in which all the elements are so well balanced. Dark red/purplish fruit, rose petal, mint, lavender, dried herbs and incense all build in a ravishing Pessac-Léognan that will take your breath away. The 2020 is 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Merlot, picked between September 14 to 26, which is early here. Whole cluster was 55%. Vinification took place over five weeks, using very gentle extraction, with no pumpovers or punchdowns. Aging was 80% new oak, 11% 18hL foudres and 9% amphorae. In tasting, the 2020 is simply magnificent. There are no soloists, just the most exceptionally vivid, breathtaking orchestra imaginable. The 2020 is a masterpiece from Technical Director Guillaume Pouthier and his team. Don't miss it! -Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media

The best 2020s seem to be confident without showing off or shouting too loudly and this Carmes does just that. Focused and precise, this is complex and characterful, rich yet vibrant with a texture and taste that makes an impact straight away. Fresh black fruits, floral notes and sensational minerality do the talking - it has weight, density and structure - broad and bold yet svelte, it has direction and persistence, building quickly then settling and elongating with such clarity and purity. This is a wine you want to drink. Cool, classic, sharp and decisive with a flawless texture. Whereas 2019 was more generous, this is more classic and easy to understand. An excellent job - seemingly effortless winemaking in 2020 - and a bottle that is sure to be emptied pretty quickly.--Georgina Hindle, Decanter

The 2020 Les Carmes Haut-Brion is a blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 26% Merlot with a pH of 3.62 and aged for 24 months in 80% new oak, 11% foudres, and 9% terracotta amphoras. A proportion of whole-bunch fermentation was used, depending on the suitability of the batch: 50-60% whole bunch was generally used on the Merlot and Cabernet Franc, less on the Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep garnet-purple in color, it slowly releases the most gorgeous perfume of violets, dark chocolate, black cherry preserves, and creme de cassis, followed by suggestions of crushed rocks, tar, wild sage, and anise. The medium-bodied palate delivers a solid foundation of firm, grainy tannins and seamless freshness to support the tight-knit black fruit and mineral layers, finishing long and perfumed. -Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Independent

The 2020 Les Carmes Haut-Brion has turned out beautifully, wafting from the glass with aromas of blackberries, red fruits, exotic spices, rose petals, raw cocoa and licorice. Medium to full-bodied, seamless and layered, it's intensely flavored but weightless, with a compelling sense of harmony and a long, orange-inflected finish. A blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 26% Merlot, it was vinified with some 65% whole bunch and attained 13.5% alcohol. This is the first vintage where Pouthier's methods (whole bunch with weighted cap and long élevage incorporating larger vessels) were applied writ large, and the results are striking. - William Kelley, Wine Advocate

Inky plum colour, violet and peony aromatics followed up by orange zest and pencil lead on the opening beats. Just so much depth, quality and characte, chalky tannins are softening just enough to show the form of the fruit bneath, giving a sense of architecture and form. Sculpted blue and black fruits appear as things expand through the mid palate, with crushed mint leaf and mouthwatering oyster shell on the finish. The flavours evolve and the character emerges the longer you linger over this glass, and it's an excellent vintage of Carmes, with sculpted delicous fruits. 3.58ph, 55% whole cluster, 80% new oak, 10% foudres, 10% amohora for ageing. - Jane Anson, Decanter

Exotic fruit aromas of blackberry, blueberry, peach and orange peel. It’s full-bodied with a vertical flow of layered, chewy tannins that are integrated and intense. Extremely polished and focused. Crushed stone to the fruit in the aftertaste. Some bark and forest flowers, too. Great potential. - James Suckling

On another level, the flagship 2020 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is one heck of a dense, backward, concentrated wine that’s going to require bottle age. Coming in with the same technical analysis (acidity and alcohol) as the 2018, this full-bodied beauty offers a thrilling nose of blackcurrants, smoked tobacco, charcoal, and gravelly earth. Full-bodied on the palate, with a terrific mid-palate and wonderful purity, it holds things close to its vest yet has flawless balance, impeccable purity, and just a great, lengthy finish. Nevertheless, this is one big bruiser of a wine that’s going to demand bottle age. Do your best to hide bottles for 7-8 years, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following three to four decades. - Jeb Dunnuck


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