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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…
2010 Vintage Report Dry, cool weather = optimum ripeness
The 2010 vintage will be remembered for:
- A sum of temperatures close to that of summer 2009 (962°C compared to 982°C), but much cooler than in 2005 (1,052°C) – especially during the first three weeks of August. This locked in good acidity and gave the wines considerable aromatic freshness.
- Low rainfall from March to August 2010 (267mm) and dryness comparable to 2005 (227mm).
The white wine harvest began when Sauvignon Blanc grapes were picked on 02 September 2010. Thanks to excellent weather conditions, we were able to take our time to harvest all the grapes at peak ripeness.
We picked only in the morning to retain maximum freshness. We then stored the fruit in cold chambers and pressed it delicately over a long period... In short, we did everything possible to produce a very great white wine. The grapes were able to ripen exactly as we wished and the harvest progressed unhurriedly.Sugar levels were good, but so was acidity, and the juice displayed an intrinsic balance from the very first.When the final blend was made, we were aware that this was a great white Smith Haut Lafitte.
The colouris pale yellow with light green highlights and the nose displays lovely, assertive yellow fruit aromas (peach, apricot, and mango). With aeration, the bouquet goes on to reveal considerable depth and complexity with fruity (candied pineapple, peach), floral (acacia blossoms), mineral and empyreumatic nuances. The wine starts out very straightforward and is impressively smooth from the very first. It shows superb balance between richness, power, concentration and tension. The aftertaste is very long and expresses all the potential on the nose. Featuring delicious overtones of citrus fruit, white flowers, flint, and brioche, the flavours are underpinned by beautiful acidity.
Drought and cool temperatures contribute to optimal ripeness
The sum of summer temperatures in 2010 was close to that of summer 2009 (962°C compared to 982°C), but decidedly chillier than those of 2005, which totalled 1052°C. These cool temperatures had a substantial influence on the balance of our wines, preserving a good level of acidity and attractive aromatic freshness.
Very little rainfall (only 267 mm) from March to August 2010 generating a drought of similar intensity to that of 2005, when only 227mm of rain fell.
Another feature of the 2010 vintage is the low temperatures above all in the first three weeks of August, which made for the preservation of good levels of acidity in the grapes while also maintaining attractive aromatic freshness.