In 2010, Patrice Pichet – CEO of the Pichet real estate group – acquired this gem of a vineyard whose ten hectares of AOC Pessac-Léognan vines are surrounded by buildings in the greater Bordeaux area. The Chateau’s wines, which were already of an extremely high standard, needed new equipment on a par with their ambitious future agenda.
At the helm of France’s leading single-family-owned real estate group since its inception, Patrice Pichet is a great wine, design and architecture connoisseur. He commissioned work by prestigious designer Philippe Starck and architect Luc Arsène-Henry who designed and produced an amazing architectural complex comprising a new winery, ageing cellar and reception areas. Building work began in January 2014 and was completed in time for the 2015 harvest. The ageing cellar, which houses 300 casks, and chateau’s cellar are buried beneath the lake to avoid fluctuations in both temperature and humidity levels. On the second level, a 200m2 harvest reception area adjoins the 1,200-hectolitre, gravity-fed vat house where various sizes of vats are made from three materials: wood, stainless steel and concrete. The tasting area is located on the upper level overlooking the vat house with – the icing on the cake – a 350m2 panoramic terrace with sweeping views over the entire estate.
In the vineyard, the estate’s urban location is extremely attractive because the climate is warmer, less prone to frost and more conducive to grape ripening. The landscaped grounds surrounding the chateau are home to an ecosystem welcoming beneficial predators of harmful vine insects. Another of the vineyard’s distinctive features is its varietal range comprising 40% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet-Sauvignon – with a balance of Merlot aged 41 years old on average and planted to a density of 10,000 vines per hectare – and its layout over two hillsides separated by the Peugue river bed, a tiny tributary of the Gironde. The soils are formed of varying proportions of gravel, clay and sand and the combination of terroir and micro-climate is pivotal to the quality of Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion wines. This is undeniably the finest unclassified Pessac-Léognan, as evidenced by Gilbert & Gaillard’s tasting scores which have ranged from 93 to 96/100 since 2003.