x
  • Country ranking ?

    983
  • Producer ranking ?

    30
  • Decanting time

    -
  • When to drink

    2020-2035
  • Food Pairing

    Salads

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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The Story

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…

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Vintage 2013

2013 BORDEAUX VINTAGE REPORT 

The 2013 vintage in Bordeaux was one of the most challenging since 1965 and 1968. Thomas Duroux of Chateau Palmer describes it as “the most complicated vintage in 20 years”. It rained almost continuously during spring. Flowering was uneven resulting in poor set, millerandage and coulure. The threat of mildew was mollified by the arrival of hot dry weather during summer. For a while vignerons were hopeful that plentiful sunshine and benign weather would allow the vines to catch up. Violent storms, wind and intermittent heavy rainfall in July and August hampered vine growth and created difficulties with fruiting. High humidity and cool temperatures prior to harvest led to a slowdown in ripening and the perfect environment for botrytis (grey rot) infection. Merlot did not perform well on the left bank. Chateau Margaux certainly was vulnerable to these conditions, but others, in their efforts to talk up the vintage, have shown superb Gallic denial. You would be forgiven for believing this might be an exceptional vintage; such is the brilliance of the best professional liars in the world.

 

In years gone by, the weather conditions, uneven ripening and disease pressure would have resulted in disastrous wines. Chateau Margaux avoided the worst rains by bringing in a picking team of 300 people to harvest the crop at lightning speed. Chateau Lafite also raced against the elements and won. Most Chateaux do not have this type of luxury. Sorting tables, were “derigeur” during the harvest, allowing the best berries to be selected. I can’t remember seeing any red wine with noticeable botrytis characters. The fruit, however, did not generally ripen to optimum levels. Many producers found it necessary to chaptalize their vinifications to allow the wine to reach a more attractive level of alcohol. Some Chateaux, including Cos d’Estournel at 12.7% alc, made their wines apparently without the addition of sugar. Most estates, however, found it difficult to achieve phenolic ripeness. Tannins are the framework of all red wines. They don’t have to be perfectly ripe; an “al-dente” texture can give a compelling freshness and appealing structure. But it was easy to over extract in 2013. The very best wines were those that were “unpushed” and intuitive to vintage conditions. The use of saignée (juice run off), reverse osmosis and other methods to concentrate wine, is never talked about by winemakers, but there were a few wines with soupy textures and unnatural mouthfeel.

 

Many of the 2013 primeurs wines have only been in barrel for a few weeks. This creates challenges because the oak characters can detract from the inherent quality of the young wines. Many Chateaux will no doubt adjust their oak maturation philosophies to match the character of the vintage. Others will use oak as a cosmetic or builders bog to fill the structural inadequacies of their wine. Acidity is also strongly present in the wines this year. This element is essential for the freshness, tension and life expectancy of any vintage. In riper years, acidity tends to play second fiddle, yet in 2013, it is a principal violin. Fruit character, perhaps the most important feature of any wine, inevitably varies according to sub region and vineyard. The very best wines of this vintage have the aromatic quality, persistence and depth of good vintages. Ultimately the most triumphant red wines are proportionate to the commitment and the financial resources of the wine producer.

 

Although Merlot struggled in the Medoc, it performed well on the right bank. Pomerol was comparatively resplendent with generous fruit and riper tannin backbones than elsewhere. St Emilion was also capable of making some lovely wine, but as usual the results were mixed. Pessac Leognan reds were muscular and on the rustic side, whereas the whites were minerally and fresh with strong acidities. Many feel that the dry whites are excellent. For most Australians, these wines don’t really offer value. There were some good Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant red wines made in the Medoc. However, no single sub region prevailed. If anything I preferred Pauillac, especially Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste and Chateau Batailley.

 

The humidity that hampered the 2013 harvest in the Medoc and elsewhere worked in favour of Sauternes and Barsac producers. There was a ‘widespread proliferation” of botrytis cinerea (noble rot) during Bordeaux’s wet autumn. The wines range from magnificent to standard in quality. The very best have a beautiful honey, barley water complexity, understated richness and viscosity and fresh acidity. Chateau d’Yquem is remarkably good. The biodynamic Chateau Climens is a beautiful expressive wine. Every year, I taste it in barrel and in parts. I can imagine the final blend and it will not disappoint.

 

The 20% drop in exchange rates between the Australian Dollar and the Euro over the last year will make the 2013 more expensive that the better 2012 and 2011 vintages. Unfortunately this will have a significant impact on market opportunities in Australia. It is unlikely the Chateau owners will drop their prices significantly enough to make this campaign worthwhile. The drop in demand from China and the “pipeline” full in other markets will result in sluggish sales across the world. Although this year’s primeur campaign will test the resilience of the traditional Bordeaux wine trade, there is still an impressive level of optimism. I think everyone is looking forward to moving on from the 2013 vintage. On the other hand this is the type of vintage, with a touch of bottle age, that could reappear in a more favourable light in a few years time.

by ANDREW CAILLARD MW

 

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

This white is sheer seduction. Honeyed, suave and brilliantly succulent, this mouth-filling, long and incredibly complex white has many layers yet to unfold. It tastes of peaches and Canary melon accented with fennel frond, acacia and toasted brioche. This is one of my perennial favorites in white Bordeaux.

  • 92p

The 2013 Smith-Haut-Lafitte Blanc offers a payload of grapefruit, guava and melon aromas that are beautifully integrated with the oak. The palate is fresh and vibrant, very harmonious with a hint of sour lemon that complements that subtle tropical tone. It slips down the throat with ease, completing a gorgeous white Bordeaux. If you are intent on buying just one wine in this off-vintage, this is the one I would load up on.

  • 94p

Château Smith Haut Lafitte white 2013 offers a bright, vibrant pale yellow color with green hue. 

The first nose, quite expressive, is dominated by white fruits and citrus fruits (lemon, yellow grapefruit). Through swirling it, the wine opens up and more complex notes of white flowers, white fruits (pear, white peach, persimmon) appear along with aromas of spices and hints of toastiness. 

The mouth is marked by a very beautiful mineral tension, a great acidity, well-balanced by a very refreshing and sharp matter; the wine is structured by its tension and minerality. The mouth is fresh and very very long. The aroma complexity on the palate reflects the first aromas perceived with white fruits, white flowers, sweet spices, very fresh notes and a beautiful aroma delicacy. The finale let appear a hint of smoke so characteristic of our gravel terroir. 

2013 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc (90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris) First came with roasty and oaky aroma, and then with lots of freshness and mineral. Medium intensity and mild, green apple, apple zest, gooseberry, grapefruit, a combination of grass and lime with a hint of flint. Medium body, medium to medium (+) acidity, medium length. It was performing a cooler climate style of Bordeaux white as 2013 was a pretty difficult year for both reds and whites.
  • 92p
Pale lemon yellow. Apples, minerals, floral and flinty notes nose. Fresh acidity, lively, fresh, fuller bodied, lemons, minerals, superb balance, elegant liveliness, fruity and intense, long. 94-96
  • 95p
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Information

Origin

Martillac, Bordeaux

Other wines from this producer

Château Cantelys

Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Casher

Hauts de Smith Blanc

Le Petit Haut Lafitte

Le Petit Haut Lafitte Blanc

Les Hauts de Smith

Highlights

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