This is rather gorgeous, with a real sense of climbing through the palate, expanding outwards and upwards as it goes, with high aromatics of peony and iris alongside touches of tight, cocoa-dusted black fruits and a sense of restrained power. A saline touch gives a mouthwatering finish. It opens up with time in the glass, and is hugely persistent. There is austerity, as you would expect with such high Cabernet levels, but the energy and flexibility to the tannins bodes extremely well for ageing. Budbreak happened on 12 March at Carmes Haut-Brion in 2017, highlighting just what an early vintage this was. When the frost arrived, it affected almost all of their second site out in Martillac, where they produce Le C de Carmes, while the vines around the main estate in Bordeaux were not impacted. The result is a wine that has clearly reached a good level of ripeness and is succulent in the mouth. They used 48% whole-bunch fermentation here, pretty much the same amount as last year - another clue to the ripeness of the stalks. 80% new oak (more than the last two years), with 30% of malolactic in barrels and the rest aged in 10% large Stockinger cask and 10% in amphora. This is a very good and will age well. Harvested 4-9 September (second wine not harvested until 19 September). 3.59pH.
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.
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.
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.