x
  • Time

    04:17 AM
  • Wine average?

    96 Tb
  • Country Ranking?

    49
  • Region Ranking?

    27
  • Popularity ranking?

    38

News

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!"

Robert Parker: 100 points

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History

The noble Bosq family started growing grapes here as early as 1365. The property was purchased in the 18th century by Scotsman George Smith, who gave the estate its present name. He also built the manor house and exported his – by now famous – wine to England on his own ships. 

In 1842, Mr. Duffour-Dubergier, Mayor of Bordeaux and an enthusiastic winegrower, inherited Château Smith Haut Lafitte from his mother and brought the wine up to great growth status. Impressed by Smith Haut Lafitte's excellent quality, the Louis Eschenauer company distributed the wine all over the world starting in the early 20th century, deciding to buy the estate in 1958. After the Eschenaueur period came to an end, a great deal of money has been invested in the estate, particularly on the construction of a superb underground cellar holding over 1,000 barrels. 

In 1990, Daniel Cathiard fell in love with the property and joined the list of prestigious owners, firmly intending to further enhance Smith Haut Lafitte's tradition of excellence. He combined the most modern winemaking techniques and age-old methods: organic compost, small wooden vats, ageing on the lees in barrel, etc. Famous around the world for its wonderfully elegant red wine and the sophisticated bouquet of its white wine, Smith Haut Lafitte undoubtedly deserves the special care that is lavished on it.

 

Daniel Cathiard is perhaps best known as a former ski champion – he was a member of the famous French Olympic team including Jean-Claude Killy, Guy Perillat, and Léo Lacroix. Jean-Claude, a great lover of fine Bordeaux, was the first person to sign the visitors' book at Château SMITH HAUT LAFITTE.

After the death of his father in 1970, Daniel found himself running the family's small supermarket chain. Within 20 years, he had transformed it into the tenth largest mass distribution group in France, with 15 hypermarkets and 300 supermarkets.

At the same time, he launched and developed a chain of sporting goods shops – Go Sport – in France, Belgium, Spain, and California. His group employs some 9,000 people. Daniel met his wife Florence while on the French Olympic ski team in 1965. She then worked with him managing Genty and Go Sport for ten years before launching her own advertising firm, later becoming Vice President of McCann Europe in 1985.

 

In 1990, Daniel and Florence sold all their business interests to buy Château Smith Haut Lafitte. Over a two year period, they invested massively in renovating both the winery buildings and the 18th century manor house built by George Smith, where they decided to live and to devote their energy to their newfound passion: making outstanding white and red wines. Florence has written a book entitled Art de Vigne (“Art of the Vine”) published by Editions de la Martinière-Aubanel

The couple's two daughters have created their own businesses with their respective husbands:
- The elder daughter, Mathilde Thomas-Cathiard, manages Les Laboratoires Caudalie, www.caudalie.com, with her husband Bertrand. Caudalie specialises in beauty and health care products made with polyphenols from grape seeds. These are distributed in over 20 countries.

- The younger daughter, Alice Tourbier-Cathiard, and her husband, Jerome, manage two hotel complexes, Les Sources de Caudalie, www.sources-caudalie.com, and Les Etangs de Corot, www.lesetangsdecorot.com. They also have plans to open other “boutique hotels”.

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Vineyards

Our appellation has such a strong personality that it has given its name to our region: THE GRAVES.

These graves, or gravelly soil, consist of layers of alluvial, sandy, and stony soil deposited on a limestone subsoil by tumultuous rivers and glaciers during the Quaternary Period. This soil was later affected by erosion.

At Smith Haut Lafitte, we have a rare example of a croupe, or rise of Günze gravel. 
This is thick and ochre-coloured, reflecting its high iron oxide content. This soil is perfect for growing wine grapes because it is well-drained, meagre, warm on the surface, and cool as well as humid deep down (thanks to clay and limestone) This means that the vines grow slowly and have naturally low yields, and that the grapes ripen slowly and fully (the wet soil deep down regulates water supply and makes for good, even ripening).

 

In parts of the vineyard where there is a higher proportion of clay and the vineyards are north facing, we planted white wine varieties to maintain their aromatic potential during hot, dry weather. We planted Cabernet Sauvignon on dryer, more gravelly soil, because this variety needs more encouraging to ripen. We have thus adapted the optimum grape variety to each plot to make the most of our fine Günz gravel terroirs.

" It is a special privilege to live in the middle of your own vineyard. I am very proud of my collection of semi-precious stones I have found while walking or cycling. I even came across a prehistoric hatchet and shells from the Quaternary Period"  Florence CATHIARD, Owner of Château Smith Haut Lafitte

 

Our grapes are entirely hand-picked, plot by plot, bunch by bunch, because this is still the best way to harvest quality fruit. All the bunches are harvested, examined, and sorted by one of our workers, and then put into small crates.

These are then directly transported to the cellars at Smith Haut Lafitte. The fruit is not put into large hoppers and great care is taken not to bruise the 10 kg of grapes in each crate prior to arrival at the winery. The grapes are removed delicately by hand and then gone over carefully once again on a sorting table.

At this stage, the white wine grapes go directly into a pneumatic winepress. The red wine grapes, on the other hand, go to be destemmed, and then onto the second sorting table (manned by 10 to 12 workers) in order to remove anything other than grapes.

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Winemaking

As for the white wines, we also focus the same meticulous, almost fanatical attention on winemaking: 
The way we sort the grapes is an excellent example of our respect for the ripe fruit throughout the winemaking process.

 

Putting into vat: The whole, uncrushed berries are taken to the appropriate vat via a small 3 hl mobile vat. The grapes fall into the vat by gravity flow, yet another example of the estate's emphasis on quality: The fruit is treated totally gently this way.

Pre-fermentation maceration: when the grapes are put into vat, we lower the temperature for cold maceration prior to alcoholic fermentation. This is ideal for bringing out colour and aromas.

Fermentation: Alcoholic fermentation begins spontaneously thanks to indigenous yeast. This yeast “eats” the sugar and transforms it into alcohol, carbonic gas, and heat. The solid matter rises and forms as cap at the top of the vat. The temperature also rises at this time. The art of winemaking consists of maintaining the right temperature and contact between the cap and the juice.

 

"I can indeed choose a pressing method which is soft and long-lasting, an extraction of the juices under low pressure, without risking oxidation and thus we are able to extract all the qualitative potential of our grapes." Fabien TEITGEN, Technical Director

 

Post-fermentation maceration: The vats are kept at a temperature of 28°C and left on the skins as long as it takes for the wine to form its tannic structure and acquire the right degree of richness. We monitor how maceration is going by regular tastings.

Running off and pressing: We run off the free run juice (part of which goes into new oak barrels), separating it from the solid matter in the vat. This is then used to make the press wine. “We put the wine into barrel at an early stage when it is ‘still warm’. This definitely enhances the interaction between the wine and the oak. This is better integrated and more understated as a result.”

Barrel ageing: The secondary, or malolactic fermentation takes place partly in vat, and partly in barrel. This is essential for stabilising red wines.

We keep the wine on its lees for the few first months of ageing and decide what winemaking operations to do based on weekly tastings. We rack the wine very little.

« When we monitor the extraction with precision, we don't need to proceed to multiple rackings (soutirages) because we don't have any bad tannin to remove. Therefore we preserve the full potential of the wine. » Fabien TEITGEN, Technical Director

Bottling: We bottle our fine red wine after 16-18 months ageing in an oxygen-free atmosphere to maintain ageing potential.

 

 

GRAND CRU CLASSE DE GRAVES (Graves great growth) in the PESSAC LÉOGNAN appellation

10 000 cases (red wine), 3 000 cases (white wine) 5 500 cases of second wine: Les Hauts de Smith and Le Petit Haut Lafitte (Export)

78 hectares (67 producing red wine and 11 producing white wine)
Gravelly soil from the Gunzian (or Nebraskan glacial) period 
Cru Classé de Graves
35% Merlot / 55% Cabernet Sauvignon
9% Cabernet Franc / 1% Petit Verdot
90% Sauvignon Blanc / 5% Sauvignon Gris / 5% Sémillon 
101.14/3309 
Red wine: 38 ans / White wine: 40 ans
7,500 to 10,000 vines per hectare 
Grapes are hand picked into small crates 
Sorting both before and after destemming 
Putting the grapes into vat by gravity flow without crushing 
18 temperature controlled foudres (large wooden vats) for fermentation
28-30 °C
4-7 weeks 
18 to 20 months in barrel (60% new depending on the vintage)
Grapes are directly pressed
Cold settling in small stainless steel tanks
In barrel (50% new) 
12 months on the lees

 

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Inside information

The Bio Precision approach, native of the Château Smith Haut Lafitte, aims to match the most innovative viticulture and vinification techniques with the greatest respect of the living: the soil and the vine.

This method promotes the bio diversity and the balance of the vineyard ecosystem through hedge plantation, use of natural grass, production of organic compost or horse ploughing among other techniques. 

It focuses as well on preserving the genetic diversity of the vine and therefore the complexity of our wines thanks to vine graft, clone selection and rootstock mother vine on the “La Lande” island on the Garonne river. The entire team of Château Smith Haut Lafitte is dedicated to use the most up-to-date technology for the best expression and preservation of the terroir.

 

At Château Smith Haut Lafitte, we implement the traditional viticulture techniques such as earthing-up the vines or horse ploughing of the fragile and sharp plots of white vine. We totally banished any chemical product and favor organic methods to fight against the various dangers that threaten the vine: mating confusion of the grape berries moths with pheromones, use of the typhlodromus mites which are the natural predators of the red spider mites and prevention of the grey rot thanks to the bacillus subtilis that naturally prevents the development of the botrytis, among other processes.

We enhance the vine growing cycle with organic compost made of vine shots left over from pruning, grape pomace and manure from cows and horses. This natural fertilization system improves soils living quality. We strengthen as well the fauna diversity of the vineyard through a hedge plantation program of more than 500 meters per year and the implementation of several beehives.

 

At Château Smith Haut Lafitte, we harvest by hand and transport the grapes into small specially-designed 7 to 9 kg crates. 

The grape clusters go from the picker’s hand directly to the sorting table at the reception area of the vat room, unbruised and in perfect condition. We created and use as well ergonomic grape hods to improve the working conditions of pickers team.

To preserve the integrity of the grape berries, we use the destemming Winery system that gently shakes the clusters (by soft vibrations) and frees the berries from the stem perfectly. Then, the innovative optical Vistalys sorting, that we have employed since 2008, sorts the berries after taking and analyzing pictures of them according to determinated factors. Undesirable elements are of course removed (pieces of leaves, small green berries, etc.). After an ultimate hand-sorting control, we convey the meticulously selected berries by gravity to 80-hectolitre truncated cone-shaped wooden vats. In that way, we ferment healthy berries of optimum and homogeneous quality in separated batches that reflect the complexity of our terroir of günzian gravel.

 

At Château Smith Haut Lafitte, we produce our own young vines and rootstock mother vine on the La Lande island: a protected and closed environment on the Garonne river 10 minutes away from the Château. Therefore we preserve the genetic diversity of the vine and improve the complexity of our wines.

 

We are certain that a great wine comes from the perfect alliance between the vine and its terroir. An in-depth study of our vineyard measuring electric resistivity of the soil, carried out for more than 18 months, every 50 cm of every vine row, combined with a pedological study through soil samples analysis allowed us to build a precise map of the soils of the vineyard: the terroir. Therefore we adapt the vine culture to the characteristics of the soil within every plot of the vineyard.

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6 different wines with 90 vintages

Winemaking since 1365

  • Daniel Cathiard

    Owner
    "The first thing that I did when I arrived at Château Smith Haut Lafitte was to sell the grape harvesting machines."

Highlights

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Camille Meyrou / Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Wine Producer (France)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  5 wines 

Nice dinner at Chateau Le Rey with my kin, memorable thanks to this bottle of Grange Hermitage !

13d 11h ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  5 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  23 wines 

Ornellaia 2016 / 95 points / Ornellaia red is distinctly Tuscan, with a slightly bigger body than Bordeaux and firmer, chewier tannins. The texture is more opulent and the fruit is ripe and sweet; in vintages like 2007 and 2010, these wines gather you in their warm embrace and seduce you with their charm and depth. Recent twin great vintages, 2015 and 2016, have the potential to become another 2007 and are wines to lay down in your cellar for decades.

1m 2d ago

 Camille Meyrou / Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Wine Producer (France)  tasted  6 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  9 wines 

Interesting tasting Half Blind, trying to compare Smith Haut Lafitte and it's two second label (issued from younger vines) on a very recent vintage. And then compare a couple of Pessac Leognan wines of 2014. Parde was completely bretted sadly... Pontet Canet was just a special treat during this blind tasting, as for the old white from Smith Haut Lafitte that was interesting to compare two very old vintages side by side.

1m 12d ago

 James Suckling., Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  6 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte 2018 / This is incredibly complex with hazelnut, currant, berry and dried-flower character. The impression of a vat of fermenting cabernet. Full body, round and juicy tannins and a long, soft and silky finish. Shows the essence of the fruit here. Fascinating. Layered and complex.
Barrel Sample: 98-99

2m 25d ago

 Izak Litwar , Wine Writer (Denmark)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  50 wines 

BORDEAUX 2019 / Ch. Margaux 2019 - only 37% of the whole production into Grand Vin. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon + 7% Merlot + 2% Cabernet Franc + 1% Petit Verdot, 14.9% alcohol. Ch. Margaux' technical director, Philippe Bascaules, told me, that Merlot needed to be vinified gently due to its voluptuousness and high alcohol. He made a comparison between 2018 and 2019 Grand Vin - "when I taste 2018 Ch. Margaux, I taste 2018 vintage first, then Ch. Margaux. When I taste 2019 Ch. Margaux, it's Ch.  Margaux first, then 2019 vintage!"
It's a showcase of Cabernet Sauvignon with wonderful aromas of cigar box and tobacco leaves. Extremely elegant and multi-faceted, sophisticated and very stylish for the property. Exceptional complexity and purity. Liquid silk. True perfection here! 99-100p. 

3m 13d ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  20 wines 

Our weekly pro-tasting had this time wines from 1837-2015. Best ones were Yquem 1947, Latour 1996, Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc 2015, Masseto 2014, Petrolo 2003....

3m 15d ago

 Christy Canterbury MW, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte 2013 Graves Cru Classé Blanc
This wine has a turbo-charged nose of fireplace smoke, passion fruit and beeswax. Round, supple and suavely textured with lightly glycerol on the palate, this is both a highly gulpable and strongly intellectual wine thanks to its compelling intensity. It drinks beautifully now, but there’s no need to rush.

3m 21d ago

 Camille Meyrou / Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Wine Producer (France)  tasted  3 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  20 wines 

Great Bottle Share evening with 12 friends all connected to wines, we had all of them on a blind tasting except for Smith Haut Lafitte 2007 that we had as a Predrink.

The highlight of the tasting were : 
-Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge ! Top notch, very well made !


-Domaine du Pruerat, a regular Bordeaux wine, which all falsely leaded us into Medoc GCC. The proof that regular Bordeaux AOC can also make outstanding wines !

-Maucaillou 2000, that was a great pick as well, we all recognised the  style of an old medoc communal red.


 


We also tasted that night 2019 samples of Domaine Clarence Dillons wines ( Haut Brion, Mission, Chapelle & Clarence ) and it was great :)

4m 15d ago

 Christer Byklum , Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  5 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  37 wines 

2017 Château Smith Haut Lafitte blanc /  Pale lemon yellow. Apples, citrus, nuanced, floral, elegant nose, yellow fruity. Fresh acidity, fruity, fresh, lively, detailed, elegant texture, playful, juicy, lovely balance, long. 96p

4m 19d ago

 Camille Meyrou / Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Wine Producer (France)  tasted  2 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  2 wines 

Nice tasting of SHL 2006 & 2012. It was nice to check two wines at different stage of their lifespan. 2006 showed very nice developped aromas, but I had a little preference for 2012 freshness and tension

4m 24d ago

 Camille Meyrou / Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Wine Producer (France)  tasted  4 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  5 wines 

Nice tasting of the wine range of Smith Haut Lafitte with Fabien Teitgen the wine maker, finishing by a nice touch of Haut Brion to compare with the best of the AOC. 

5m 15h ago

 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  8 wines  from  Château Smith Haut Lafitte . In a tasting of  34 wines 

The Smith Haut Lafitte 2018 Blanc is composed of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon and 5% Sauvignon Gris, aging in 50% new oak barriques. It features intense scents of lime leaves, pink grapefruit, white peaches and green mango with hints of yuzu, lemon meringue pie, crushed rocks and coriander seed. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is laden with energetic citrus and stone fruit layers, with a satiny texture and bold freshness, finishing long and mineral laced.


“2018 was quite a difficult year because of the wetness, wetness, wetness,” Smith Haut Lafitte’s winemaker Fabien Teitgen sighed. “We are organic growers, so we lost a bit to mildew. May to mid-June, it was very depressing. But the abrupt change in the weather was amazing. The very dry, sunny conditions gave fantastic evolution of the grapes. The berries were very fresh and fruity with thick skins." "We are very focused on the sorting," Teitgen continued. "We pick by hand, do an initial sorting using a vibrating table and then finish the sorting by hand. There was more work to be done on sorting the Merlot. We used no stems this year. We had enough tannin in the skins this year, so we didn’t use the stems. Then, we had to take great care with the extraction. We just focused on extracting the round tannins, none of the harsh tannins. We had to stop fermentation as soon as we detected any bitterness.” Average yields for the vintage were 21 hectoliters per hectare for the reds and 28 hectoliters per hectare for the whites. Tiny quantities, but the wines—and the grand vin in particular—are simply stunning.

5m 6d ago

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