Parker’s “Spectacular” 93pt Haut-Médoc and the Blessings of Montaigne
Michel de Montaigne was a giant of 16th century letters. He is largely credited with revolutionizing and popularizing the essay, penning 107 iconic, discursive musings still taught in literature and philosophy classes to this day. An early skeptic, he is remembered for his motto: “Que sais-je?” (“What do I know?”)
Montaigne also happened to be a canny power player in Bordeaux, twice serving as mayor of the region. His father held that post too, at one point serving as a go-between for the king and the Bordelais during delicate negotiations over taxes. What did he know? Montaigne knew his wines. And when he wanted to kick back, drink, and reflect, there was one gorgeous property owned by his family which he relished visiting again and again: Château La Tour Carnet.
Located in Haut-Médoc, it is one of the oldest and most storied active châteaux in all of Bordeaux. The estate, home to a medieval castle whose tower dates back to the 11th century, withstood the 100 Years War and was appraised in the 1855 Classification as a Grand Cru Classé. Like many aged châteaux, it has seen periods of tumult. But no matter who was in charge through the centuries, left unchanged are the incredible power and complexity of the terroir — clay and limestone underneath Gunzian and Pyrenees gravel — and the superb placement of the south/southwest-facing vineyards, a stone’s throw from the most highly regarded estates of Saint-Julien.
Bordeaux-born multimillionaire Bernard Magrez acquired the property in the late 1990s, installing the revered winemaker Michel Rolland — whose capacity for evaluating Bordeaux varieties is unparalleled — to oversee vinification. Magrez’s aim was to restore La Tour Carnet to its status as one of the greatest producers of Haut-Médoc. Price was no object. The gambit paid off: In his Wine Buyer’s Guide 6th Edition, Robert Parker called the 2000 vintage “the finest La Tour-Carnet I have ever tasted.”
A decade later, a sensational mild yet sunny 2010 growing season rocked the record books as Bordeaux’s top names put out indescribably concentrated, magnificently structured blends. Parker released a barrage of 17 ecstatic 100-point reviews; Wine Spectator gave the vintage a monumental 99-point rating.
Château La Tour Carnet performed phenomenally, earning rave reviews from the critics. Stephen Tanzer, he of the Scrooge-like stinginess with scores above 90, pinned 91+ points on this “very impressive vintage for this bottling.” Parker did him one better. A “spectacular effort,” the sage of Maryland declared, calling it “La Tour’s best since their 2001” and lobbing on a glowing 93 points.
The 2010 La Tour Carnet is 60% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Opaque purple in color. Gorgeous nose of black raspberry, plums, black cherry, and sweet spice. Rich and powerfully built on the attack, with terrific density. Silken in texture, filled with a flamboyant mix of plum, blackberry, red raspberry, graphite, and pepper. The structure here is superb, sneaky tannins lurking beneath a luscious black-fruit cloak.
If you’re a Bordeaux collector, we’re guessing you’ve already hit “Buy.” A 93-point, full-throated endorsement from Parker. 91+ points from Tanzer. One of the greatest vintages in a generation. One of Bordeaux’s most ancient and storied estates, beloved by the region’s homegrown philosopher, Montaigne himself. Only 360 bottles. $55 price — an INCREDIBLE bargain. Sounds like a no-brainer to us. But what do we know?