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Each Château has its own style. What would be, according to you, the specificities of Château Smith Haut Lafitte White?
About our style, I would say that either you love our wines or you hate them. But be careful, if you do love them, it is for life… Our style is quite special, even paradoxical.
We have 90% of Sauvignon Blanc in our blend, however this proportion is almost unidentifiable on a blind tasting because of the age of our vines, the slopes ploughed by horses for more than 14 years on which they grow, the north exposure and all these details producing late maturity that will give our wines expression and complexity.
We also have a secret weapon: 5% of Sauvignon Gris. This forgotten yet complex grape variety brings different levels of aromas: first grapefruit, then peach, apricot and flowers, and a fresh minerality at the end. This kind of grape variety helps as well the wine age beautifully, adding spicy notes on the finish.
Which vintage of your Château white wine do you prefer?
This question is indeed very difficult... We often think that the latest babies are the best... If you ask my husband Daniel, he will choose 2010 and 2011, sharp as diamonds, of great precision, with high levels of acidity and freshness, very pure fruits, faithful to our terroir of Günzian Gravel... If you ask me, I prefer 2000, 2005 and 2009, because these vintages have a rare structure with great density and roundness in the palate. On blind tastings, almost nobody can recognize its 90% of Sauvignon Blanc. I find very interesting to compare our Château Smith Haut Lafitte white with a carafe of Bâtard-Montrachet of the same vintage for instance. The 2009 is very promising; it has a lot of everything and nothing of excess…
Bordeaux 1981 /The small but high quality vintage of 1981 was overshadowed by the superb 1982. Hot, dry weather began from flowering and continued until September, when occasional rains occurred until until the harvest is completed in good conditions at the beginning of October. Generally speaking, the reds produced were elegant, moderately light and delicate wines in all appellations. The dry whites were of average quality and Sauternes was actually better than the following year 1982. Although this year is often considered modest, some good wines emerged. These include Margaux and Cheval Blanc.
The Bordeaux 1981 wine vintage received mixed reviews from the wine press and critics. It was a year characterized by variable weather conditions and uneven ripening, leading to wines of varying quality across different appellations and producers.
Variable Quality: One of the prevailing themes in reviews of Bordeaux 1981 was the highly variable quality of the wines. Some estates and appellations managed to produce wines of charm and balance, while others struggled with underripe grapes and less favorable conditions.
Tannic Structure: Many Bordeaux 1981 wines were noted for their tannic structure. The tannins were sometimes described as firm or astringent, suggesting that some wines would require extended aging to soften and develop complexity.
Early Drinking: While some Bordeaux 1981 wines were considered suitable for aging, others were recommended for earlier consumption. Critics often pointed out that certain wines were more approachable and enjoyable in their youth, with fruit-forward profiles.
Elegance and Finesse: Despite the challenges of the vintage, some Bordeaux 1981 wines were praised for their elegance and finesse. These wines were often seen as examples of the winemaker's skill in a challenging year.
Right Bank vs. Left Bank: There were distinctions between the wines of the Right Bank (Saint-Émilion and Pomerol) and the Left Bank (Medoc, Pauillac, etc.). Generally, the Right Bank wines were regarded as having performed better in 1981, with more consistent ripeness and structure.
Notable Producers: Certain Bordeaux estates and producers were highlighted for their success in the vintage. These wines were often considered benchmarks for Bordeaux 1981.
Aging Potential: While some Bordeaux 1981 wines were viewed as having the potential to age gracefully and improve with time, others were seen as wines best consumed in their prime to capture their youthful fruitfulness.
Overall Assessment: The general consensus was that Bordeaux 1981 was not a standout vintage on par with some of the region's legendary years. However, it was also not a uniformly poor vintage; there were good wines to be found for those who selected carefully.