Château Smith Haut Lafitte
Address: 33650 Martillac
Telephone: +33 (0)5 57 83 11 22
This estate has rebounded in the last decade or so and in recent vintages Château Smith Haut Lafitte has made excellent wines. The estate owes its name in part to a Scottish navigator who owned the estate in the 18th century. Much later the property was for a time owned by the wine shipper Louis Eschenauer. In 1990 the estate was purchased by Daniel and Florence Cathiard and much investment in the property and the vineyard has since taken place. The château has its own cooperage for making barrels.
Vineyard/Terroir: 67 hectares on Guntz gravel soils planted with 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot for the reds and 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Sémillon for the whites.
Winemaking/Elévage: Red spends eighteen months in barrel (70% new) and the white has 12 months in barrel (50% new).
- 2015 Silver; really sparkles in the glass; melon; white peach; seductive aromatics; lovely ripe palate; beautiful; lovely balance; harvest started 1st 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+
- 2014 Pale straw/silver; full and gorgeous aromatics – white flowers; some melon; white peach; very seductive; taut at the same time; palate has more grapefruit and zesty tones; some lanolin and wax; real breadth to the palate; great texture and acid on the finish. Balanced. Length and texture. They say here that the 2014 whites have the body of 2010 with the acidity of 2008. Fascinating combination. Smith Haut Lafitte white once again almost up with La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc and Haut-Brion Blanc for me. [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 50% new oak]. Drink 2018-2028. Tasted UGCB 1 April, 2015. 94-96+
- 2013 Palest straw; very round and attractive; well integrated oak; some candy, fresh cut melon and white flowers; palate very fine; full and intense with great length. The best white at the Malartic tasting for me. Good acidity running through this. The estate feels that it has the saline quality of 2007 but the depth of 2010 with more acidity. Great stuff. [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris]. Drink 2016-2023. Tasted UGCB April 2014. 91-93+
- 2012 Palest silver; elegance here but with quite a bit of fruit evident; grapefruit and cashew notes with an attractive salty tang; good weight on the palate and evidently very well balanced. Textured. Very attractive. Drink now-2022. 93 UGC Oct ’14 [Earlier note] Palest silver/green; full and broad; some wax and grapefruit; lots of density to the palate; very ripe material; weight and density here; with very good length. 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris. 92-94+ Tasted Monday April, 8, 2013 Pessac-Léognan tasting at Chateau Olivier [Later note] Steely silver/green; grapefruit, lees, quite serious; some ginger spice; deep; very full almost waxy palate. Very full, very good indeed. 93-95 Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC
- 2011 Attractive golden straw with silver highlights; complex nose – oyster shell, citrus notes, limes; deep and full; palate has nice mouth feel and body but also zap – grapefruit, limes and citrus freshness. Great length. This is already wonderful but needs 5 years to show its best and will last the distance. Drink now-2025+ 93+ UGC Oct ’13 [Earlier note] Palest grey/gold; grapefruit, zest and some polish; restrained; big palate; lively and zesty with some barrique notes along with citrus tones, spices and grapefruit; roundness; good fruit and length. Very good effort. 92-94+
- 2010 Palest straw/gold with hints of grey; attractive spicy grapefruit, cashew and oyster shell notes; lots of spicy fruit here – the nose is loaded and lifted and really attractive; bold palate; full; dense and very good; lots of fruit and depth with a nice salty edge on the finish that suggests minerality alongside the citrus fruit tones. Very good length indeed. 95 [Earlier] Pale straw; some candy, fresh and strong nose; ripe and concentrated palate; waxy and will work well – has zip and life. Very promising. Grapefruit on the palate, lots of life and zing but also concentration and strength. One of the best white wines at the UGC. 94-96 [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Sémillon] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.
- 2009 Pale straw; gooseberry, cashew, citrus notes too, grapefruit tones; attractive palate; full and with real depth; wool and wax; lees notes; full, spicy has good length. Maybe lacks a bit of zip but big full style. 92/100 [Earlier]Very pale; very sturdy nose, ripe, apples; good palate and fresh; more citrus and apple elements; some grapefruit; very fresh and zip. Will fill out. Potentially very fine. 90+ [90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon Gris, 5% Sémillon]
- 2015 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]. Tasted Smith Haut Lafitte. Drink 2019-2035. 7/4/16. 96-97+
- 2014 Deep and saturated; ripe cassis; some strawberry notes; blackcurrant cassis again; tight palate jam packed with fruit; clean and precise; very attractive fruit tones; nice freshness and acidity on the finish. Plenty of matter on the chewy finish. Will be very good. [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2020-2032. Tasted 1 April, 2015. 92-94+
- 2013 Deep and saturated look; colour tight to the rim; very layered and perfumed with lots of fruit; some smoke; black fruits; very nice texture on the palate; rich; blackcurrant and plum tones; very attractive fruits; laden but not leaden; creamy fruit that hasn’t been pushed. Treated perfectly in the cellar. Terrific effort in the vintage context. One of the reds of the vintage and better in my book than Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion in 2013. [60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2018-2030. 91-93+
- 2012 Mid depth; saturated core; creamy and voluptuous aromatics; morello cherries, plums and spice; very lush; some undergrowth and complexity; very round and fruity on the palate with blackcurrant and plum fruit; very precise. Freshness at the end and nice length. One of the most impressive reds at the entire UGCB event. Drink now – 2028. 94+ UGC Oct ’14 [Earlier note] Deep and dark; creamy, deep and layered on the nose; attractive; very fiull; and textured on the palate with layers of fruit; quite firm tannins and nice bite at the end. Good freshness. Excellent effort. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. 92-93+ Tasted Monday April, 8, 2013 Pessac-Léognan tasting at Chateau Olivier. [Later note] Deep and saturated; some nutty oak, little reminiscent of Domaine de Chevalier; red fruits alongside some black cherry; chewy palate with just a little angularity to the tannin; lots of plushness from the Merlot disguises the slight astringency of the Cabernet. 90-91+ Tasted Wednesday April, 10, 2013 at UGC
- 2011 Mid depth; glossy; opulent nose – cassis, cherry, blackcurrant – very velvety; open and appealing; good blackcurrant fruit tones with an earthy note plenty of density on the palate with a grippy edge which gives bite to the finish. Pretty good effort overall with nice fruit tones and acidity that reflects the vintage. Drink 2015-2025. 91+ UGC Oct ’13 [Earlier note] Mid depth; some purple tones; creamy blackcurrant fruit with some earth, attractive; very polished with nice purity and earthy blackcurrant tones on the palate; nice entry, mid-weight and nicely done; not over handled or over-extracted. Elegant and satiny. Perfectly judged 2011. Harmonious. Head and shoulders best red at the UGC. 92-94+
- 2010 Deep and saturated looking in the glass; very voluptuous and expressive in the glass; plums; blackcurrant spices and resin; deep and layered aromatics; menthol and chocolate notes too; palate pretty thick but lots of fruit and structure; palate enveloped by ripe, round tannins; extracted but nicely done; chewy finish with lots of extract and matter. Warm finish. Impressive, flamboyant modern styled wine. Drink 2018-2040. 96+ MW Institute Nov ’14 [Earlier note] Super dense and saturated looking; thick black fruits, dark cherry and chocolate tones on the nose; lots of density here; rich and cake-like notes; but there is structure and grip beneath and oh so much fruit above. Chewy finish. Lots of material and will work out extremely well with a few more years. 94+ UGC Oct ’12 [Earlier] Deep and dense, saturated; menthol, concentrated blackcurrants and cassis; some perfume too, less adorned with oak than Pape Clement and better for it; very ripe palate, big and plush; sweet and ripe but incredible purity. Lots and lots of flavour. This is truly great wine. Resonance and purity. Easily one of the best reds of the appellation. 96-98+/100 [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot 13.7 alc] Tasted 6 April 2011 UGC.
- 2009 Deep and saturated colour; very ripe, lifted fruit tones; red fruits; rich and big with toasty oak and espresso notes; full and ripe with lots and lots of fruit and saturation. Plenty of blackcurrant fruit on the palate; layers here. Chew on the finish. Exceptional if slightly exaggerated effort that still needs a few years to come together. 2016-2035. 95 MW Institute Nov ’13 [Earlier note] Deep looking; minerally nose with primary fruits – blackcurrants, cassis – and obvious depth; palate similarly loaded with fruit and deep and saturated in flavour; tannic and dense. 93+/100 UGC Oct ’11 [Earlier] Healthy concentrated colour; pretty quality to the nose here; some violets etc; fresh and clean; precise and some sweetness; big palate with structure but also life here; very good palate unfact. Some savoury notes here too. Excellent 90-92+/100. Tasted 31st March 2010.
- 2008 Deep, saturated colour; very intense looking; lots of red fruits on the nose, chalk and chocolate; depth; palate saturated and chewy; red fruits, dark chocolate, espresso notes on the finish; acid is hidden but covered in rich fruit. Impressive. 92+ MW Institute Nov 12.
- 2007 Deep and dense; red at edge; leaf, tobacco, blackcurrants and earth; some peat and reductive notes too; thickish; earthy palate, some polish, inky and lots of earthy, blackcurrant fruit; chewy finish and some bite. Again very good for the vintage. 92+/100 MW Institute Nov ’11.
- 2006 Red at edge but depth; earthy, gravelly notes on the nose, with chocolate, very attractive, seam of blackcurrant beneath these smoky notes; sweet strawberries on the palate which feels fruit driven and open, ripe and soft tannins which don’t feel over done. Tannins really well managed in this vintage here. Excellent wine. 92+/100. MW Institute Nov ’10.