Patrice Pichet, owner of Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion and the real estate developers Pichet Group, has commissioned the famous French designer Philippe Starck to design a new winery, barrel cellars and reception area at the chateau.
Pichet bought Les Carmes Haut Brion in late 2010 / early 2011 and enlarged the vineyards with the purchase of 5.6 hectares from Chateau Le Thil Comte Clary in June 2012 (the chateau, park and remaining 11.6 hectares were purchased by Daniel and Florence Cathiard of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte). The grapes from Pichet’s newly acquired vineyards will go into making a new wine: Les Clos de Carmes Haut Brion.
Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion is adjacent to Chateau Haut Brion and was once part of the First Growth (both chateaux now lie in the suburbs of the city of Bordeaux). In 1584 John de Pontac, the then owner of Haut Brion donated the Les Carmes vineyards to the Carmelites, a Catholic religious order founded in the 12th century, in return for their prayers to grant him a long life. He lived till he was 101.
Although the expansion of the vineyards has necessitated a new winery it seems that making Les Carmes Haut Brion easily accessible to the city is a key part of the new design project. Pichet has always had plans to make Les Carmes Haut Brion more welcoming by removing the walls which conceal the vines to residents and motorists.
The entrance to the estate has been moved to a new location on Rue des Carmes, giving Les Carmes Haut Brion a city centre postcode – it is the only chateau in Bordeaux to have one.
Director Guillaume Pouthier told Decanter.com that:
‘The new cellars and reception centre will be visible from this new entrance. We want to increase the visibility of the estate, but also ensure that we are open to the residents of Bordeaux, and seen as part of the city.’
The building permit should be filed in the coming months and the project completed in late 2014 – early 2015.
Philippe Starck is well known for his product and interior designs from an optical mouse for Microsoft to a luxury yacht for Steve Jobs and from a lemon squeezer for Alessi to Virgin Galatic’s space port in New Mexico.
He will be working with the architect Luc-Arsène Henry whose firm has completed projects for Chateaux Petit Village, Ducru Beaucaillou, Saint Pierre and Pichon Baron.