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Bordeaux 2015: Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

IMG_0999Château Smith Haut Lafitte has made very impressive wines in 2015. There is a voluptuous beauty to the red, which is seductive and complete. The white is aromatic and full, with notes of white peach and melon. Both wines are defined by considerable depth and length. They continue a run of great form at a property that seemingly can do no wrong. The striking difference this year is the label. It’s gone jet black. It celebrates 25 vintages made by current owners Florence and Daniel Cathiard. 2015 also marks 650 harvests at the property that dates back to 1365. This remarkable history reminds us that Bordeaux’s oldest winemaking heritage lies in Pessac-Léognan itself [let’s ignore the Romans in St Emilion for a moment…].

The growing season at Château Smith Haut Lafitte was a warm and dry one in the most part in 2015. As elsewhere in the appellation, it was characterised by quick and homogeneous flowering in the last week of May and later by even and similarly quick veraison at the beginning of August. The summer was hot with drought conditions but a wetter August helped relieve water stress and enhance grape ripening. A drier than average September and October were complimented by cooler temperatures which helped retain freshness and acidity in the grapes. So in Pessac-Léognan [as on the right bank] we get beauty, seduction and freshness. The wines at Smith Haut Lafitte exemplify these qualities.

I have included reviews here on Château Le Thil, a property that neighbours Smith Haut Lafitte that was purchased by the Cathiards in 2012. This 11ha vineyard lies on clay limestone soils and is planted predominantly with Merlot. A little white wine is also produced here.

The following notes were taken at Château Smith Haut Lafitte on Thursday 7th April, 2016, after a drive from the UGCB tasting at Château Malartic-Lagravière that would have left the late, great Ayrton Senna open-mouthed….


Le Petit Haut Lafitte, Pessac Léognan

Fresh silver look; lees notes; some grapefruit tones; attractive palate; soft; nice citrus quality with some grapefruit and limes; nice to drink now. Made largely from the estate’s younger vines from the vineyard plateau. [80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon, 50% new oak]. Drink 2018-2023 90-92

Château Smith Haut Lafitte,  Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Washed silver; really sparkles in the glass; melon; white peach; seductive aromatics; lovely ripe palate; beautiful; lovely balance; harvest started beginning of September; estate comparing this to the 2010; minerality on the finish. A delicious beauty. Has freshness too. [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon, 11ha for white, 50% new oak.]. Drink 2019-2027. 95-96+


Château Le Thil, Pessac-Léognan

Mid depth; lovely bright fruit; ripe and forward on the nose; like this; pure fruit – very supple on the palate; elegance and delicacy – not over concentrated and fresh on the end. Round and harmonious. Spices on the finish. [100% Merlot]. Drink 2019-2025. 90-91+

Le Petit Haut Lafitte, Rouge, Pessac-Léognan

Mid depth; little deeper; more solidity to the aroma; nice ripe fruit; clean; structured and a fair bit of ‘matter’; nice harmony on the mid palate; fresh too; soft for this age. Good finish. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 20% new oak, 13% alc]. Drink 2020-2024. 89-91+

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Rouge, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac-Léognan

Lovely colour; deep at centre; healthy looking; seductive aromas – oodles of ripe fruit; cassis; some chocolate notes; supple entry; wonderful fruit tones – real beauty here this year; surprisingly supple wine. Between 09/10 the estate believe. Lovely stuff for me. Opulent. Gorgeous. [63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc 2% Petit Verdot, 65% new oak]. 96-97+


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