Each Château has its own style. / What would be, according to you, the specificities of Château Smith Haut Lafitte Red?
The style of our red wine is very classic, with a beautiful expression of our terroir of Günzian Gravel which gives unique smoky notes. We pursue elegance and structure, freshness and complexity, balance and richness.
Our majority of Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested at full maturity and softly vinified to extract only the silkiest tannins, unveils after proper aging its full potential for years long.
The other grapes variety of our vineyard, the Merlot, the Cabernet Franc and the Petit Verdot add to the Cabernet Sauvignon their own aromas and participate in the typical harmony of our Cru Classé de Graves.
Which vintage of your Château red wine do you prefer?
Such as the whites, it is very difficult to pick a vintage among others, as every occasion and every meal will enlighten a specific vintage.
In my opinion, our 2000 red is a wine I would not doubt in comparing with the greatest reds from both banks. It has everything, except maybe some more years…
Another vintage we particularly cherish is the 2003, because despite the heatwave that affected the region, our early terroir allows us to harvest grapes at perfect maturity before they “cook” over the sun. Therefore we have a charming wine, whose freshness of aromas trouble the tasters at every blind tasting.
However I must say that we reached the zenith of our great reds with two legendary vintages: 2009 and 2010, though these two vintages have very little in common! 2009, my favorite, is powerful, charming, round and very “charismatic”… 2010, my husband’s favorite, is a beautiful classic, that expresses perfectly our Gravel terroir, with notes of black fruits, mineral finish and incredible Caudalies (the unit that measures length of wine flavors in mouth).
A superb and generous vintage / The temperatures in 2009 were close to those in 2005, and rainfall was similar to 2000 – two great examples with regard to crucial ripening parameters! Summer was relatively dry with beautiful sunny days and cool nights. Thanks to deep rooting and meticulous work in the vineyard to find the best possible equilibrium between the soil and the vines, vine growth came to a halt on the 20th of July and a long, fine ripening period began. With the help of satellite photos, we now have a map showing how each plot ripens. This enables us to organise picking at peak maturity and to harvest grapes of uniform ripeness.Assisted as well by two new technologies (optical sorting of the fruit and destemming by vibration), we were able to obtain exactly the desired degree of extraction.
The harvest began on 25 September in plots of young Merlot vines and finished on 14 October with Cabernet Franc. The excellent initial impressions we had from tasting the grapes were soon confirmed in the fermentation vats. The new wine was deeply-coloured, almost black. It had great concentration with powerful, complex, and elegant aromas of red and black fruit, spices, herbs, cedar, liquorice, clove, andgraphite…
This complexity was also present on the palate, and the wine soon proved to be rich, powerful, balanced, and refreshing. With time, power and concentration have become its hallmarks – but not at all at the expense of finesse. The tannin is incredibly rich and there is a beautiful, long aftertaste. The aromatic complexity on the nose carries over to the palate, which features superb red fruit and spicy flavours (clove, liquorice, and cinnamon) as well as subtle overtones of graphite, gunflint, and violet… 2009 red Smith Haut Lafitte displays a rare combination of power, richness, outstanding elegance, and delicate tannin.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate #199 Feb 2012
The finest wine ever made by proprietors Daniel and Florence Cathiard, the 2009 Smith-Haut-Lafitte exhibits an opaque blue/purple color in addition to a glorious nose of acacia flowers, licorice, charcoal, blueberries, black raspberries, lead pencil shavings and incense. This massive, extraordinarily rich, unctuously textured wine may be the most concentrated effort produced to date, although the 2000, 2005 and 2010 are nearly as prodigious. A gorgeous expression of Pessac-Leognan with sweet tannin, emerging charm and delicacy, and considerable power, depth, richness and authority, it should age effortlessly for 30-40+ years. Bravo!