Les Carmes Haut-Brion: 'Feel the greatness' – James Suckling

Les Carmes Haut-Brion

'Feel the greatness' – James Suckling

‘One of Bordeaux’s most unique and characterful wines.’
– Yohan Castaing, Wine Advocate, 97-99 pts

Our relationship with the wines of Les Carmes Haut-Brion continues to deepen. 2023 has been released en primeur, and the critics can’t get enough of this ‘fantastic.. very, very exciting wine’ (James Suckling). Approaching First Growth quality and below R2 000 a bottle, it offers astonishing value and has to be among the frontrunners for best buy of the vintage.

Les Carmes are pioneers in changing the Bordeaux landscape. Their ultra-modern cellar is contrasted by the age-old vineyard and vinification techniques they employ, such as ploughing the vineyards by horse, using whole bunch, and including amphora components in the wines.

Les Carmes Haut-Brion: 'Feel the greatness' – James Suckling

2023 is a wine of seamless integration. It has more tannin than the lauded 2022 (suggesting a long future), yet there’s a sapidity and refinement that should make it very appealing in its youth. As has been the trend since Guillaume Pouthier took the reins, there’s a sense of cohesion here that transcends analysis. Pouthier’s belief in Cabernet Franc is now firmly established, and the variety contributes up to 50% of the blend in 2023. As usual, a portion of the wine sees élevage in clay with a large component of whole bunch during vinification.

2023 is entering the last part of the campaign, and there are superb wines available that should not be missed. Laroque 2023 is the finest Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin have seen from the estate, both scoring it 94-96 points. At R517 it’s a no-brainer. Brane-Cantenac is a Margaux that’s knocking on the door of the top wines at a fraction of the price (R1 149; 96 JA, 94-96 AG), and Langoa-Barton is a serious wine that remains some of the best bang-for-your-buck from Saint-Julien at R760 (93-95 WA, 94 JA). Malartic-Lagravière is a stunner from Pessac-Léognan at a terrific price (R682; 95 JA). Finally, we encourage you to lay to rest any negative perceptions you may have about sweet wines – Sauternes offers the finest value sweet wines in the world in our view. They’re incredibly light-footed and fresh in their youth, showing wonderful complexity and layers over many years of ageing. Coutet (R364; 94-96 NM), Doisy-Daëne (R395; 95-97 NM) and Suduiraut (R599; 98-100 AG) all represent tremendous quality and value, and are available in 375mls.

View our full range of en primeur wines here, and email Johan@winecellar.co.za to place your order.


Also known as ‘wine futures’, en primeur is the method of purchasing wines early, offering customers the opportunity to secure a wine allocation while the wines are still in barrel. Purchasing en primeur guarantees the supply and volume of a certain wine and, in most cases, at a better price than the future release price. Vintages like 2019, 2020 and 2023 offer attractive buys as the Euro prices denote a fair discount to previous years.

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