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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 Snap-shot of the 2014 Vintage by Markus Del Monego MW
2014 had an early start with budbreak around 10 days ahead of the 10 years average. End of May flowering started on the early terroirs in heterogeneous conditions, whereas the later varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon and Franc as well as later terroirs took advantage of a warm and sunny period beginning of June. July and August where quite cool and humid and in the second half of August the vintners prepared themselves for a vintage even worse than 2013 but at the end of August everything changed. A spledid indian summer througout September and October saved the quality. Harvest started for the white grapes started three days later than in 2012 but two weeks later than 2011. For the red grapes the harvest startet with Merlot at the end of September and ended with the Cabernets in the second half of October. The cool climate during summer provides a higher acidity, the indian summer is responsible for the right ripening.
The dry white wines are on a very good quality level showing crisp acidity and ripe flavours. The noble sweet white wines also take advantage of the higher acidity balancing the opulent sweetness. Therefore this vintage seems more on the elegant side. The presentation of red wines depends very much on the grape varietes and terroirs. Overall the red wines are on a higher quality level than the three previous vintages. Saint-Emilion is excellent on the plateau calcaire and shows in general very good wines.
In Pomerol the centre of the plateau was in advantage over the surrounding areas. Fronsac was a very positive surprise for 2014. In the Médoc the southern part proved to be more heterogenous than the northern part, where especially Saint-Estèphe was homogenous and excellent. South of Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan presented a very homogenous picture of a very good quality level with outstanding wines from Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.
One last observation: This vintage digests oak in a great way. The oak is even not obvious in wines with a 100% new oak barrels for maturation. Now there are roughtly twelve month to follow for the maturation of the 2014s untill the bottling in 2016. A lot can happen in this period. Let us see how the wines will present themselves after bottling, it will be a very interesting tasting again. 2014 is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
Bordeaux Vintage 2014 - is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
Generally scheduled between the end of March and the beginning of April, Primeur Week in Bordeaux is always an exciting time because it allows a first glimpse of the latest vintage. The sheer number of wines available for tasting is impressive and a week almost seems short. This is why the Union de Grands Crus offers a well-organized blind tasting for the press every morning of the week. The previous weekend, the Grand Cercle des vins de Bordeaux organizes blind tastings of more than 200 samples. These impressions are supplemented by tastings in different Châteaux and tastings organized by the Bordeaux trade. Therefore, some wines may be tasted twice or even more often during this week to check quality and style.
An interesting fact is the weather situation. Low weather pressure means wines can close, while high weather pressure presents wines in a more open and flavorful style. This year the wheat was pretty bad during the first few days of the tasting week, but improved a lot in the second half of the week. This had an influence on the tasting notes in general which must be taken into account. Another effect was the late harvest in 2014, which shortened the period between harvest and early tastings by up to a month. A month less time for maturation has effects on the tasting results, which is another aspect to consider, always keeping in mind that each tasting result remains a snapshot and is not an absolute judgment and definitive.
The year 2014 started early with bud burst about 10 days before the average of the last 10 years. At the end of May, flowering began on the first terroirs in heterogeneous conditions, while the later grape varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon and Franc as well as the later terroirs benefited from a warm and sunny period at the beginning of June. July and August were quite cool and wet and in the second half of August the winegrowers prepared for an even worse vintage than 2013 but at the end of August everything changed. A splendid Indian summer in September and October saved the quality. The harvest began for the white grapes three days later than in 2012 but two weeks later than in 2011. For the red grapes, the harvest began with the Merlot at the end of September and ended with the Cabernets in the second fortnight of October. The cool climate during summer provides higher acidity, the Indian summer is responsible for good ripening.
The dry white wines are of very good quality showing crisp acidity and ripe flavors. Noble sweet white wines also benefit from the higher acidity balancing the opulent sweetness. Therefore, this vintage looks more elegant. The presentation of red wines depends a lot on the grape varieties and terroirs. Overall, the red wines are at a higher level of quality than the previous three vintages. Saint-Emilion is excellent on the limestone plateau and generally shows very good wines.
In Pomerol, the center of the plateau was advantageous over the surrounding areas. Fronsac was a very positive surprise for 2014. In the Médoc, the southern part turned out to be more heterogeneous than the northern part, where especially Saint-Estèphe was homogeneous and excellent. South of Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan presented a very homogeneous image of a very good level of quality with exceptional wines from Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.
One final observation: this vintage digests oak wonderfully. Oak is not even evident in wines with 100% new oak barrels for maturation. Now there are about twelve months left for the maturation of the 2014s until bottling in 2016. A lot can happen during this period. Let's see how the wines will present themselves after bottling, it will again be a very interesting tasting. 2014 is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
by Markus del Monego MW