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Bordeaux 2016: Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

I love the forward thinking approach at Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Their respect for the environment and sustainable practices are impressive. It is one of my favourite properties in Bordeaux. Maître de Chais Yann Laudeho took me through the wines here. 2016 as a vintage looks excellent, and the quality has almost taken them by surprise. The red Smith Haut Lafitte is a beauty this year. It is up there with the brilliant wine made in 2015. It is wonderfully generous and has that tell tale texture of the vintage. The white looks very good indeed. It has depth and zest in what was perhaps a challenging vintage for the whites at some properties. The 100% Merlot Château Le Thil is plump and attractive.

In the technical notes, managing director Fabien Teitgen, describes a complex growing season which threw up the risk of spring frost, attacks of mildew, summer drought conditions and grape worms in September. This led them to have “a rather pessimistic view of the vintage until mid-September.” Rain mid month provided important relief and the fine weather with sunny days but cool nights into October allowed the grapes to achieve excellent phenolic ripeness at fractionally lower alcohols than 2015. Fruit set had been even, with almost ideal flowering conditions earlier in the season.

The whites finished harvesting on 24 September, with the reds picking from 29 September to 19 October. The picking was unhurried and the grapes arrived in the cellars in perfect condition.

The following wines were tasted at Château Smith Haut Lafitte on Tuesday, 4 April, 2017.

Les Haut de Smith Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Brilliant washed silver; attractive aromatics; pear drops; oyster shell; race and depth with textured finish. Lovely salinity. [100% Sauvignon Blanc]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2019-2024. 90-92+

Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac Léognan, 2016

Pale silver; minerals, rock salt; white flowers; zesty palate; full but positive; great texture again. Always one of my favourite Bordeaux whites. [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2020-2028. 94-96+

Le Thil, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Deep, dark and saturated look; red at edge; earthy; sweet ripe Merlot, black fruits; clean and very attractive; fresh acidity. Works well. Produced from a small plot of Merlot on clay soils. [6ha, 100% Merlot]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2021-2028. 90-92+

Le Petit Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, 2016

Very deeply coloured; tight to the rim; rich and attractive red on the nose; sweet ripe fruit on the attack; full and plush palate but has some zest and acidity. Fresh finish. Textured. Made from fruit from younger vines from the Smith Haut Lafitte vineyards. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2021-2028. 91-93

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Grand Cru Classé de Graves, Pessac Léognan, 2016

Deep and saturated colour; really deep; very refined aromatics; blackcurrant and raspberry notes with mineral tones; real composure here; lovely entry on the palate; great texture; focused but ample and generous at the same time; nice freshness on the finish; lovely balance. Excellent Smith Haut Lafitte. Up there with the recent greats. Will drink early but has the balance to last. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 13.5% alc]. Tasted 4/4/17. Drink 2023-2040. 95-97+

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