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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 Vintage Report 2005 is a truly fantastic vintage with great quality across the board on both the Left and Right Banks.
The 2005 vintage became the most expected since 2000. The en primeur market was heated, and prices skyrocketed. The cold winter delayed the bud break before the hot ans dunny spring broke up. Even vegetative growth and flowering gave a perfect start to the vintage. The summer turned out to be one of the driest ever which was avoiding disaster since the weather remained reasonably warm not excessively hot as in 2003. The soil is again becoming a decisive quality factor. Gravelly areas, such as Graves, were worst affected once more. In other words, top wines are to be expected.
For short term perspective, in the next couple of years, an excellent amount of mature red Bordeaux wines will be available in the market. The vintages 2004, 2002, 1999, 1994, 1992 and 1988 offer a wide selection of enjoyable wines to be consumed immediately or at most to be stored for a short period.
As investments, the best vintages from the past 35 years are 2003, 1996, 1989, 1986 and 1982. The most certain long-term investments are Latour, La Mission Haut-Brion, Haut-Brion, Le Pin and Pétrus.
In the last 35 years, Bordeaux has undergone a substantial change in winemaking. Modern equipment and developing know-how have guaranteed more even quality. It seems that the next challenge will be handling the extreme climates including slowly global warming, which has already given hints of its effects also in Bordeaux. It is impossible to say how the Bordeaux wines will change in the next 35 years. We can only hope that their most characteristic feature, elegant aristocratic nature highlighted by unique terroir, will never fade away.