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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…
Weather conditions / The 2000 vintage was proclaimed from the start as one of the best vintages of modern times. In the spring of 2003, I had many opportunities to find out if we really had a true dream vintage on our hands.
During the 2000 harvest, while doing a “personal inspection” in the vineyards, I noticed that something extraordinary was on the way. The grapes looked extremely healthy.
While the sorting table was rolling, I observed that there were few leaves, stems and weeds among the grapes. This is why sorting the grapes was so easy and quick. This must be one of the characteristics of the 2000 vintage, because normally even great vintages require a lot of work at the sorting table.
The 2000 vintage is a classic, extravagant and extremely long Bordeaux with dark and extremely dense wines, which have a huge concentration of fruit, length and superbly concentrated tannins. The tannin is not allowed to dominate, as it is well enveloped by the fruit. A scent of under-ripeness is only present in a few wines. One of the hallmarks of this vintage is an intense, deep aroma of dark berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and black cherries.
All red grape varieties have reached perfect maturity, including Bordeaux's most temperamental and unruly grape variety, Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot brings to wines the long-awaited addition of backbone and power.
Additionally, the grapes for whites, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle, ripened perfectly and produced extremely fine dry white wines. The sweet white wines have unfortunately transformed into some light, elegant and charming wines, based 100% on the September harvest. From October 11, it rained a lot in Bordeaux and this continued until the end of the year.