Château 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…].
Posts Tagged ‘Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte’
So what are the principal characteristics of the Bordeaux 2015 vintage? Firstly there is a real beauty to the fruit tones in the red wines this year. Time after time, especially on the Right Bank but also on the Left I kept writing ‘beautiful,’ ‘pretty,’ and ‘delicious.’ There is freshness, despite pretty high alcohols in the main. The vintage is almost a hypothetical blend of 2009 and 2010, but with less evident structure and weight than those vintages. For me it recalls 1985 in terms of that vintage’s early beauty and freshness – and ‘85 remains in great shape today. But the 2015 vintage is by no means homogeneous. In fact there is considerable variability. What is in no doubt is that ‘15 is terrific in St Emilion. There is concentration and delight in so many wines there this year. It has also been strong vintage in the surrounding Côtes de Bordeaux appellation, especially Castillon and Francs.
My last day of tasting Bordeaux 2015 started in Pessac at 8am at Château Haut-Brion. The Domaine Dillon wines are impressive in 2015. This is the easily the finest vintage for Château Quintus, their St Emilion. It is intense and substantial. Château La Mission Haut-Brion is bold and tannic [and 15.1% alcohol], Château Haut-Brion itself is simply gorgeous. It has structure and succulence. Beautiful on the nose, it has wonderful mid-palate richness. It also weighs in at 14.9%, but in neither did I notice the alcohol. Their rare whites have weight and freshness. Next up was Château Haut-Bailly. It has produced a typically pure and substantial 2015. The fruit tones are beautiful [lovely Cabernet] and the palate is well structured.
2014 is a good to very good vintage for the red wines of Pessac-Léognan. The best have very attractive aromatic profiles, plenty of depth and texture to the fruit, and attractive freshness and acidity. There is a general sense that the wines need to round out and fill in further during elévage, but many show real promise. A few of the lesser properties lack concentration and in a few cases tannins were a little tough. Haut-Brion, followed by Haut-Bailly, Smith Haut Lafitte, La Mission Haut-Brion, Domaine de Chevalier and Pape Clément, have all produced very impressive wines. Behind these Olivier [especially] along with Bouscaut, Carbonnieux, de Fieuzal, and Latour-Martillac have produced reds of note. Again these wines are often priced competitively compared to wines of a similar quality in the Haut-Médoc appellations such as Pauillac and St Julien. Many, though by no means all, have been released at prices below that of comparable vintages [2008 for example] which makes them worth considering this year.