One of the jewels among the Left Bank estates, Château Les Carmes Haut Brion is nestled in Pessac-Léognan and has the somewhat unique distinction among its neighborsof featuring a predominant presence of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with just a minor percentage of land dedicated to the regal Cabernet Sauvignon. Still the mix works, as the wines from this producer are truly some of the best and most valuable Bordeaux has to offer.
Dating back to the 16th century, the estate, which is the only one that actually rests within the city of Bordeaux itself, was initially owned by Jean de Pontac, Lord of Haut Brion, who laid claim to a larger expanse of land and network of châteaux which included Haut-Brion, Las Mission Haut-Brion, Laville Haut-Brion, La Tour Haut-Brion and Les Carmes Haut-Brion. Its name was borrowed from that of the Roman Catholic Carmelite Order to whom Pontac donated a windmill and its adjacent property in 1584. The Carmelites earned the right to have their name grace the château, having worked the land themselves for over 200 years and expanding the property significantly. However, with the rise of the French Revolution and its complex aftermath, the estate fell into the hands of the Chantecaille-Furt family in 1840, when it was renamed Carmes-Haut-Brion. The family retained ownership for several generations and is credited for bringing about its exquisitely landscaped park designed by Louis-Bernard Fisher, the architect responsible for Bordeaux’s famed “Jardin Public” gardens in Bordeaux.
In 2010, Carmes Haut-Brion was purchased by Patrice Pichet, head of the noted Groupe Pichet, a family-owned Bordeaux real estate conglomerate. The purchase broke records at the time, with the price tag reaching approximately $25 million. Growing the property from 10 hectares to nearly 35, Pichet brought the estate into the 21st century. Establishing a new era in production, which includes highly modernized facilities and newly designed surroundings, the original property remains true to tradition with a predominant presence of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and is home to the classic, signature Grand Vin, Les Carmes de Haut- Brion. This exquisite wine features a nearly unparalleled dominance of Cabernet Franc, tempered by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Conversely, the new acquisitions in nearby Martillac, Cadaujac and Saint Medard D’Eyrans, are dedicated to planting grapes which yield the Château’s second wine, Les C de Carmes, which is Merlot-dominant with a gentle blend of Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines exude radiance, depth of flavor and an uncompromised finesse while nonetheless presenting their own unique brands of complexity.