Along with the 1998 and 2000, this is a sensational effort from this tiny jewel of an estate hidden in a park just behind Haut-Brion. The deep ruby color is followed by a superb bouquet of menthol, creme de cassis, graphite, and spice (the Cabernet Franc component is strong in this cuvee). It hits the palate with a full-bodied elegance, purity, precision, and savory charm. Good acidity, sweet tannin, and an ethereal style result in a vivid, compelling Bordeaux that tastes almost Burgundian. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025.
Revealing outstanding potential, the 2004 exhibits a deep ruby/purple-tinged color as well as a smoky nose of menthol, underbrush, sweet berries, and flowers. This delicate, gracious, medium-bodied effort possesses lovely sweetness and moderate tannin. It should turn out to be an excellent, possibly outstanding example of Les Carmes Haut-Brion. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2018.
Deep lively crimson. Marked acidity and a little raw oak on the nose. Quite aggressively treacly. Cool, even slightly sour finish. Very green. Decidedly uncharming. Slightly bitter finish. Drink 2014-2020
Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is one of the tiniest and least known Pessac Leognans. Only a fraction over 4.5 hectares, it is superbly placed - a stone's throw from Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion. Many believe Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion is close to the style of its neighbours as the terroir is basically the same. Due to the minute quantities produced, it is not the easiest wine to find and is sought after the world over.
Stretching from the rather unglamorous southern suburbs of Bordeaux, for 50 km along the left bank of the river Garonne, lies Graves. Named for its gravelly soil, a relic of Ice Age glaciers, this is the birthplace of claret, despatched from the Middle Ages onwards from the nearby quayside to England in vast quantities. It can feel as though Bordeaux is just about red wines, but some sensational white wines are produced in this area from a blend of sauvignon blanc, Semillon and, occasionally, muscadelle grapes, often fermented and aged in barrel. In particular, Domaine de Chevalier is renowned for its superbly complex whites, which continue to develop in bottle over decades. A premium appellation, Pessac-Leognan, was created in 1987 for the most prestigious terroirs within Graves. These are soils with exceptional drainage, made up of gravel terraces built up in layers over many millennia, and consequently thrive in mediocre vintages but are less likely to perform well in hotter years. These wines were appraised and graded in their own classification system in 1953 and updated in 1959, but, like the 1855 classification system, this should be regarded with caution and the wines must absolutely be assessed on their own current merits.