x
  • Country ranking ?

    951
  • Producer ranking ?

    28
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    from 2018
  • Food Pairing

    Pancetta-Wrapped Roasted Turkey

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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Château Smith Haut Lafitte Red 2012 offers a beautiful dark bright red colour with blue hue. The already expressive nose reveals very fresh notes of red fruits (strawberry, cherry) with a hint of smoke. Once aerated, the nose complexity appears with delicate notes of spices (star anise, liquorice, cinnamon), of red fruits as well as beautiful and elegant flower notes. Then the nose stretches out with terroir aromas of flint stone and fireplace. The attack in mouth is fresh and balanced with a fleshy and unctuous texture. The wine is a subtle balance between maturity and freshness: the maturity from the concentration, the impressive unctuosity and sugarity and the beautiful structure of long and classy tannins; the freshness from the tension, the dynamism and the aroma sparkle.

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The Story

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).

 

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Wine Information

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage report - Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Tb:What are your early thoughts on the 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte wines?

Fabien Teitgen “I’m optimistic. The first lots of the Merlot were a real surprise! The wine has good texture, ripe fruit and freshness. 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte is a true Bordeaux wine.”

Tb:With that in mind, does 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte remind you of any previous Bordeaux vintage?

Fabien Teitgen “It’s very difficult to say, because each year is different. Every vintage has its own character. But this year could appear as 2008 vintage for the red wine with a good level of maturity in the grapes with a concentration of tannin, good shoulders and freshness for the aromatics. For the white wine, perhaps 2010 with more elegance.”

Tb:Some vintages the fruit decides the quality and character. In other years, it’s the terroir. Which was a bigger factor with 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte?

Fabien Teitgen “I think that the influence of the soil was stronger than the varietal. The key of the vintage was the water regulation of the soil. If you had good vines with deep roots in an early terroir with a few quantities of water as we had in gunzienne gravel soil, you could have very good result with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was more difficult with Cabernet Franc, because they keep some heterogeneity.”

Tb:2012 Smith Haut Lafitte and 2008 share late harvest dates. Do you like those types of vintages?

Fabien Teitgen “I like late harvest, because the temperatures during the final maturation are cooler and the grapes keep more balance and more freshness for the aromas. But I prefer dry and late harvests!”

Tb:Similar to 2008, did any specific terroir perform best for you with 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte?

Fabien Teitgen “This year we had very good results with our ‘classical’ gunzienne gravels soils and terroir with more clay.”

Tb:Why?

Fabien Teitgen “Because the vines had no problems with drought. But, as the gravels terroirs are very early, I think, we have better maturity and more elegance in the wines from the gravels soils.”

Tb:If you did not have problems with drought, what issues did you experience that were difficult for you with the 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte?

Fabien Teitgen “First, the beginning of the growing of the vines, with the cool temperature in April, the vines began and stopped growing. The vines stayed in a quite strange position during 2 weeks, with heterogeneity. Second, the mildew, just after flowering, was not so easy to control, but we had quite good results. In April, the biggest problem was the cool temperature. In the beginning of April, the vines begun to grow, but after the weather change and became very cold. The growing stopped and the wine stayed without evolution during two weeks with big differences of growing between different branches, or different s buds, or different feet. This phenomenon was less important for Cabernet Sauvignon. Third, the drought for the young vines in last fifteen days of August when some of the young vines lost their leaves.”

Tb:Did you have problems with the flowering?

Fabien Teitgen “This year the flowering was uneven because the bud burst was uneven and because the growing of the vines was strong in May. So to fight against this phenomenon we need to help the maturity. We performed a big green harvest on the on the plants. We removed the bad branches. We also opened early the canopy on the east face to help the maturity of the grapes. We sought a small number of grapes on each foot, as we always pruned short the vines. Lastly, we needed to make a sort of green harvest called queue de véraison. Queue de véraison is where we cut the grapes or the part of grapes which were too late at the end of the véraison. We removed the green part of grapes.”

Tb:What was the best part of the growing season for 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte?

Fabien Teitgen “As the growing of the Cabernet Sauvignon was later than the Merlot, we had less heterogeneity for the Cabernet. So the flowering end the veraison was shorter and we could found a good level of maturity for the Cabernet in our early Graves/Pessac Leognan terroir.

Tb:What was the summer like for you?

Fabien Teitgen “We had a dry summer with good stress for the vines, perhaps it was too strong for the young s vines, but we ended up with a good concentration of polyphenols” We had a very good month with hot temperatures between August 15 and September 13, which also gave us a good difference of temperatures between day and night. That month was very good for the maturity of the grapes.”

Tb:When did you start harvesting 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte?

Fabien Teitgen “The young vines for the white wines had problems with drought during the summer, so they were ready quite early. We began picking Sauvignon Blanc September 13, Sauvignon Gris, September 21 and we finished with Semillion on September 24. For the red wine, we started with Merlot October 4, Cabernet Franc October 10 and Cabernet Franc, October 17.”

Tb:When did you finish picking?

Fabien Teitgen “For our white Bordeaux wine, we finished harvesting the Sauvignon Blanc, September 21, the Sauvignon Gris September 21 and the Semillion September 27. For the red wine, we finished the Merlot October 14. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc both finished October 17.”

Tb:What were the conditions like for you during the harvesting?

Fabien Teitgen “Between the beginning of harvest and the 6, 7 of October, the conditions were very good. The nights were cool. We picked the grapes in good conditions and with good temperatures. The weather was dry and not too hot.”

Tb:How many pickers did you employ to work the 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte harvest?

Fabien Teitgen “We began with 50 60 people for the white wine. For the red we used 100 people for beginning. But after the bad weekend of October 6 and 7, we were up to 200!”

Tb:After October 6 and 7, did you finish picking much earlier than anticipated?

Fabien Teitgen “Yes, after that weekend we saw an evolution of botrytis, especially on ripe grapes. We decided to accelerate the harvest because the grapes were good and we had a risk with botrytis. In fact the very good weather conditions in September helped the maturity of the grapes and give us the ability to pick good grapes earlier then we though.”

Tb:You were one of the early proponents of optical sorting. Did you use it for the 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte harvest?

Fabien Teitgen “This year, it was difficult to separate the berries from the stems. We had more small parts of stem with the berries and we had some heterogeneity in the berries of Cabernet Franc. We used optical sorting for these things with very good results. The machine was very efficient.”

Tb:What was the big difference between what you had to sort last year with the 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte vintage?

Fabien Teitgen “Last year we had green and pink berries to sort. With the 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte, we had less unripe berries. But we had more small parts of the stem to remove. So the sorting was very important to see that we only had clean, ripe berries in the vats.”

Tb:What are your yields with the 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte?

Fabien Teitgen “We are around 30 hectoliters per hectare.”

Tb:What are your alcohol levels?

Fabien Teitgen “We are between 13% and 14% for the Merlot with a pH around 3.6 to 3.7. We were at about 12.3% to 12.8% for the Cabernet Sauvignon with a pH between 3.6 and 3.65.”
 

Tb:With lower levels of alcohol than we’ve had in a while in Bordeaux, what steps are you taking this year during vinification and the elevage for the 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte?

Fabien Teitgen “This year we need to do long maceration, because the skin stayed thick and we need time to extract the good things from the grapes. We couldn’t do a stronger vinification because we would risk extracting bitter flavors. After 3 weeks, the wines stayed straight and after the fatness, the volume comes. We need to be patient.”

 

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage is a year for vineyard management and workers. Call it a wine makers vintage, or change your tune and name it vineyard managers vintage. Either descriptor works perfectly. The estates with the financial ability to take the necessary actions in the vineyards during the season, coupled with the willingness to severely declassify unripe grapes will produce the best wines. Even then, it’s going to be a difficult vintage with small quantities of wine. From start to finish, the growing season and 2012 Bordeaux harvest have been stressful for the vintners, the vines and with the grapes now in the process of being vinified, the winemakers.

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage did not get off to a good start. Following a cold winter and wet spring, the April rains drenched the Bordeaux wine region. Following the April rains, there were outbreaks of mildew, which required spraying. May was warmer than April. Things cooled down a bit again in June. All this brought on flowering that was late and uneven. That resulted in small bunches with berries that ripened at different times, which brought down the quantities and necessitated in serious work in the vineyards and intensive sorting at harvest. If everything that took place until the end of June didn't offer what happened next offered additional challenges with 2012 Bordeaux vintage. After an average July, Bordeaux experienced a torrid heat spell and drought in August and September that stressed the vines, especially the young vines.

At one point, temperatures soared to 42 degrees Celsius, which is 107 degrees! Other days crossed 100 degrees. It was extremely hot and dry. The vines shut down and the vintage was on track to be even later than originally anticipated. Close to the end of September, things improved due to the much hoped for combination of warm days, cool nights and some desperately needed rain, which helped nourish the vines. The initial days of October offered reasonably warm temperatures during the day, coupled with cooler weather at night for vintners with Merlot ready to pick. In the Medoc, it was hurry up and wait. Tom Petty could have been blasting with “Waiting is The Hardest Part,” because growers needed to wait as the Cabernet Sauvignon was having difficulties ripening. This was already October. The conventional wisdom says, at some point, there was little to be gained by waiting and more to lose, so the 2012 Bordeaux harvest started taking place. Some estates began picking young Merlot in late September, but most held back until about October 1, with a few growers waiting another week or longer.

Most producers brought all their fruit in by the middle of October. Pomerol is usually the first appellation to harvest, due to their Merlot dominated vines. Interestingly, picking was taking place simultaneously in the Left Bank on October 1. Numerous Pessac Leognan properties began their harvest before Pomerol. Chateau Haut Brion began working on their young Merlot vines September 17 and Chateau Haut Bailly was not far behind, with a September 27 start date. Most chateaux were in the thick of things by October 4, although Domaine de Chevalier held off until October 8. While pleasant, cooler weather was initially forecast to continue, by October 8, things changed quickly when massive amounts of rain dropped over the entire Bordeaux region. With accompanying temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s and higher in some areas, vintners were concerned about the potential of Botrytis, due to the humid, tropical conditions. At that point, the fruit needed to be picked, regardless of the state of maturity.

Similar to what took place last year with the 2011 Bordeaux vintage, ripening was uneven. It was not just bunches that were not ripening, individual grapes in bunches achieved varying degrees of ripeness which made sorting more important than ever. Optical sorting was more widely used than ever with the 2012 Bordeaux harvest. 2012 Bordeaux could be a year where the dry, white Bordeaux wines shine. The berries were picked in September, under optimum conditions. Most producers were done harvesting the white wine grapes by September 25. The same cannot be said for the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac. This has been a difficult year for the development of Botrytis, due in part to the cold nights. With November closing in, most of the top estates were still nervously waiting to harvest. All this adds up to low yields for most producers.

In fact, the French minister of agriculture reported that 2012 would produce the lowest yields since 1991. It’s interesting to remember previous years like 1991, a vintage that forced some properties to declassify their entire harvest. With today’s modern technology and vineyard management techniques, vintages like 1991 which produced atrocious wine are a thing of the past. Bordeaux is not the only European wine region to suffer in 2012. Across the board, numerous European vineyards experienced difficult conditions. It was announced that across the board, production of European wines were at their lowest levels since 1975. Generally speaking, low yields are usually a good thing. Low yields produce more concentrated wines.

But when low yields are coupled with grapes that did not achieve full, phenolic ripeness, at the end of the day, the only thing vintners are primarily left with is less wine. If the small quantities of wine available to sell are used as an excuse by owners as a reason to raise prices, grapes are not the only thing that will be in short supply. Customers for their wines will be in an even shorter supply than the wines. 2011 Bordeaux has not sold well to consumers. Prices for 2012 Bordeaux wine need to be lower in price than the previous year. This is healthy for the marketplace in the long run. Ample stocks of good wines from top years are still available for sale. Consumers can easily find strong Bordeaux wine from 2010, 2009 and even 2005.

There are different vintages for different markets. Some wine buyers prefer more classic or lighter years. Other wine collectors seek riper, bolder years. The marketplace welcomes both types of wines and consumers. But each vintage and style needs to be appropriately priced. Bordeaux should reduce prices on vintages like 2012 and 2011. In turn, there are wine buyers willing to pay more for the best years. Reports from producers on the 2012 Bordeaux harvest have ranged.

For the red wines, some were quoted as saying the pulp is ripe, the seeds varied in ripeness, but the skins did not ripen. In the Left Bank, there are estates that feel their Merlot turned out better than their Cabernet. In the Right Bank, producers in Pomerol and St. Emilion are optimistic about the quality of their 2012 Bordeaux wines. The early reports show lower alcohol levels for the wines than more recent, highly rated, expensive vintages. 2012 Bordeaux wine has the potential to be classic in style, which should please thirsty fans of traditional Bordeaux wine.

While quantities are small, in many cases, it’s not much different than what the chateaux were able to produce in 2011. Many vintners are comparing the 2012 Bordeaux vintage a blend of 2002 and 2008. With the April tastings rapidly approaching, all of us will have a much better idea about the quality, style and character of the 2012 Bordeaux vintage. Let's just hope they get the price right. Fine.

 

 

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Vintage 2012

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage report.

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage is a year for vineyard management and workers. Call it a wine makers vintage, or change your tune and name it vineyard managers vintage. Either descriptor works perfectly. The estates with the financial ability to take the necessary actions in the vineyards during the season, coupled with the willingness to severely declassify unripe grapes will produce the best wines.  Even then, it’s going to be a difficult vintage with small quantities of wine.  From start to finish, the growing season and 2012 Bordeaux harvest have been stressful for the vintners, the vines and  with the grapes now in the process of being vinified, the winemakers.

 

The 2012 Bordeaux vintage did not get off to a good start.  Following a cold winter and wet spring, the April rains drenched the Bordeaux wine region.  Following the April rains, there were outbreaks of mildew, which required spraying.  May was warmer than April. Things cooled down a bit again in June.  All this brought on flowering that was late and uneven. That resulted in small bunches with berries that ripened at different times, which brought down the quantities and necessitated in serious work in the vineyards and intensive sorting at harvest.

 

While a growing season is never over until it’s over, uneven flowering is never a good omen.  The lateness in the flowering pushed the entire vintage back 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the chateaux.  Generally speaking, late harvests are not usually harbingers of good things to come.

 

If everything that took place until the end of June didn't offer what happened next offered additional challenges with 2012 Bordeaux vintage. After an average July, Bordeaux experienced a torrid heat spell and drought in August and September that stressed the vines, especially the young vines.  At one point, temperatures soared to 42 degrees Celsius, which is 107 degrees! Other days crossed 100 degrees. It was extremely hot and dry. The vines shut down and the vintage was on track to be even later than originally anticipated. Close to the end of September, things improved due to the much hoped for combination of warm days, cool nights and some desperately needed rain, which helped nourish the vines. The initial days of October offered reasonably warm temperatures during the day, coupled with cooler weather at night for vintners with Merlot ready to pick.

 

In the Medoc, it was hurry up and wait. Tom Petty could have been blasting with “Waiting is The Hardest Part,” because growers needed to wait as the Cabernet Sauvignon was having difficulties ripening.  This was already October. The conventional wisdom says, at some point, there was little to be gained by waiting and more to lose, so the 2012 Bordeaux harvest started taking place.  Some estates began picking young Merlot in late September, but most held back until about October 1, with a few growers waiting another week or longer.  Most producers brought all their fruit in by the middle of October.

 

Pomerol is usually the first appellation to harvest, due to their Merlot dominated vines. Interestingly, picking was taking place simultaneously in the Left Bank on October 1.  Numerous Pessac Leognan properties began their harvest before Pomerol. Chateau Haut Brion began working on their young Merlot vines September 17 and Chateau Haut Bailly was not far behind, with a September 27 start date.  Most chateaux were in the thick of things by October 4, although Domaine de Chevalier held off until October 8.

 

While pleasant, cooler weather was initially forecast to continue, by October 8, things changed quickly when massive amounts of rain dropped over the entire Bordeaux region. With accompanying temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s and higher in some areas, vintners were concerned about the potential of Botrytis, due to the humid, tropical conditions. At that point, the fruit needed to be picked, regardless of the state of maturity.  Similar to what took place last year with the 2011 Bordeaux vintage, ripening was uneven.  It was not just bunches that were not ripening, individual grapes in bunches achieved varying degrees of ripeness which made sorting more important than ever.  Optical sorting was more widely used than ever with the 2012 Bordeaux harvest.

 

2012 Bordeaux could be a year where the dry, white Bordeaux wines shine. The berries were picked in September, under optimum conditions.  Most producers were done harvesting the white wine grapes by September 25. The same cannot be said for the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac.  This has been a difficult year for the development of Botrytis, due in part to the cold nights.  With November closing in, most of the top estates were still nervously waiting to harvest.

 

All this adds up to low yields for most producers.  In fact, the French minister of agriculture reported that 2012 would produce the lowest yields since 1991.  It’s interesting to remember previous years like 1991, a vintage that forced some properties to declassify their entire harvest.  With today’s modern technology and vineyard management techniques, vintages like 1991 which produced atrocious wine are a thing of the past.  Bordeaux is not the only European wine region to suffer in 2012.  Across the board, numerous European vineyards experienced difficult conditions.  It was announced that across the board, production of European wines were at their lowest levels since 1975.

 

Generally speaking, low yields are usually a good thing. Low yields produce more concentrated wines. But when low yields are coupled with grapes that did not achieve full, phenolic ripeness, at the end of the day, the only thing vintners are primarily left with is less wine. If the small quantities of wine available to sell are used as an excuse by owners as a reason to raise prices, grapes are not the only thing that will be in short supply.  Customers for their wines will be in an even shorter supply than the wines.

 

2011 Bordeaux has not sold well to consumers. Prices for 2012 Bordeaux wine need to be lower in price than the previous year.  This is healthy for the marketplace in the long run.  Ample stocks of good wines from top years are still available for sale. Consumers can easily find strong Bordeaux wine from 2010, 2009 and even 2005.  There are different vintages for different markets. Some wine buyers prefer more classic or lighter years.  Other wine collectors seek riper, bolder years.  The marketplace welcomes both types of wines and consumers. But each vintage and style needs to be appropriately priced.  Bordeaux should reduce prices on vintages like 2012 and 2011. In turn, there are wine buyers willing to pay more for the best years.

 

Reports from producers on the 2012 Bordeaux harvest have ranged. For the red wines, some were quoted as saying the pulp is ripe, the seeds varied in ripeness, but the skins did not ripen.  In the Left Bank, there are estates that feel their Merlot turned out better than their Cabernet. In the Right Bank, producers in Pomerol and St. Emilion are optimistic about the quality of their 2012 Bordeaux wines.

 

The early reports show lower alcohol levels for the wines than more recent, highly rated, expensive vintages. 2012 Bordeaux wine has the potential to be classic in style, which should please thirsty fans of traditional Bordeaux wine.  While quantities are small, in many cases, it’s not much different than what the chateaux were able to produce in 2011. Many vintners are comparing the 2012 Bordeaux vintage a blend of 2002 and 2008.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

<10 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Light and Purple

ending

Long, Spicy and Alcoholic

flavors

Smoky and Spice

nose

Seductive and Charming

taste

High in Acidity, High alcohol content, High tannin and Balanced

Verdict

Excellent

Written Notes

2012 Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot) Intense red fruit like raspberry, red berries, red plum at the beginning. Then turns to black plum with a hint of pencil sharpen, tobacco leaves, green bell pepper, some touches of herbaceous, black pepper, sweet spices. A bit sleeping at the beginning of tasting after almost 2 hours of breathing, yet it was open after extra 2 hours. Medium to full bodied with medium-long length, lots of fresh red fruit acidity, round and velvet tannin. It was more expressive after opening than 2011 vintage and comparatively more feminine
  • 93p
Ruby. Dark fruits, blueberries and vanilla, light minerals nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, fruity, blueberries, vanilla, slightly raw at this stage, needs decanting, long. 91
  • 91p
Load more notes

Information

Origin

Martillac, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Above Average

Value For Money

Very good

Investment potential

No Potential

Fake factory

None

Inside Information

Château Smith Haut Lafitte Red 2012 offers a beautiful dark bright red colour with blue hue. The already expressive nose reveals very fresh notes of red fruits (strawberry, cherry) with a hint of smoke. Once aerated, the nose complexity appears with delicate notes of spices (star anise, liquorice, cinnamon), of red fruits as well as beautiful and elegant flower notes. Then the nose stretches out with terroir aromas of flint stone and fireplace. The attack in mouth is fresh and balanced with a fleshy and unctuous texture. The wine is a subtle balance between maturity and freshness: the maturity from the concentration, the impressive unctuosity and sugarity and the beautiful structure of long and classy tannins; the freshness from the tension, the dynamism and the aroma sparkle.

Read more

Highlights

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