x
  • Country ranking ?

    461
  • Producer ranking ?

    12
  • Decanting time

    3h
  • When to drink

    from 2028
  • Food Pairing

    chilled seafood

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 2019

BORDEAUX 2019 VINTAGE

When I was visiting Bordeaux early March, Corona was a threat on the horizon and France has been more concerned by a strike of the air traffic control. However, I was travelling to Bordeaux and had the chance to get some first insights to the 2019 vintage. I was very much looking forward to the “en primeur tastings” which were scheduled for March 26, 2020 but the tastings were cancelled mid-March. Immediately I contacted the different associations and wineries in Bordeaux and asked for samples.

The result was a small number of wines which arrived in Essen before the shutdown of France made shipments rather difficult. These first samples of the vintage 2019 were tasted under pristine conditions to assure a fair and equal assessment of all qualities. In fact, the samples proved right the opinion of some of Bordeaux’ leading figures. Bruno-Eugène Borie from Château Ducru-Beaucaillou sees 2019 in a line with the excellent vintages of 2016, 2010, 2009 und 2005.

Henri Lurton talks about his best vintage, along with 2016, he has ever vinified at Château Brane-Cantenac. Philippe Dhalluin from Château Mouton-Rothschild asses the vintage as rich and abundant in quality and also in quantity. After some smaller crops they came back to an average production.

Emmanuel Cruse from Château d’Issan sees that 2019 has a lot in common with 2016 yet preserving more freshness. It is a very good vintage but appearing at a very difficult time on the market. In fact, the start of this vintage was very positive. Enough precipitations during winter were retained by soils like chalk and clay. Vineyards on these water retaining soils had a huge advantage in the future growing period. With exception of a wet June, the vintage has taken advantage of a rather dry climatic condition, which prevented diseases in the vineyards to a huge extend. No chance for powdery or downy mildew. Even the heat waves were not really harming the vines as rain set in, always at the last moment but still early enough to prevent massive water stress and a slow-down of the maturity. The late physiological maturity brought a lot of alcohol, but the wines show more freshness as in the previous years.

Fabien Teitgen, Winemaker of Smith-Haut-Lafitte relates this freshness to the good acidity “due to cool night temperatures during the ripening period”. This fact is also good news for white wines. „They are the big surprise “, says Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier.

At Château Coutet in Barsac, Philippe and Aline Baly were harvesting in three passes with a total of 19 harvesting days. They judge the conditions as rather ideal: “These climatic conditions have generated a harvest whose quality is indisputably present.” Same samples made their way to Essen and I have tasted them. Some more samples are announced and will hopefully arrive during the current week. There will be a weekly update of my tasting notes, whenever samples will arrive.

Unfortunately, 2019 arrives in a difficult time, the Corona virus puts the world in fear and makes trade more and more difficult. Trade berries and new customs duties create a difficult frame for this vintage. However, we should not forget one thing: there are wonderful 2019s waiting for us, wines with ageing potential and charm which will survive every crisis.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

<10 tasting notes

Tasting note

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Written Notes

90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris. 
Spice and creamy depth is immediately apparent. Rich, mealy, with a lovely depth of citrus fruit, as well as that cedar-like freshness from the oak. I would not have guessed this had so little Sémillon in the blend. Deep, long, creamy and a clear standout in this line-up. (JH)

  • 90p

The 2019 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc showed beautifully, with classic sweet melon, lemon, white flower, and honeyed mineral aromas and flavors. Based on mostly Sauvignon Blanc (there's a splash of Semillon and Sauvignon Gris) brought up in roughly equal parts new and used French oak, it's medium to full-bodied, has beautiful concentration, and a clean, lengthy finish. It's a classic, elegant white from this team.
Barrel Sample: 94-96

  • 96p

Smith Haut Lafitte white – 90% Sauvignon Blanc + 5% Sauvignon Gris + 5% Semillon, 50% new oak. Fat and creamy with excellent acidity. Lot of green apples, acacia flower and pear. Great complexity and multi-faceted. Fabulous effort. 96-97p.

  • 97p

The 2019 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc has a perfumed bouquet with citrus lemon, red apples, yellow plum and jasmine bursting from the glass. The oak here is wonderfully assimilated. The palate is medium-bodied with a perfect bead of acidity. It is not the most complex white Smith Haut Lafitte that I have tasted, yet it is full of tension with subtle spicy notes of ginger and lemongrass that enliven the persistent finish. There is a brightness and sophistication to this wine that is very persuasive. Superb. Tasted twice.

94-96points

  • 96p

The blend this year is 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Sémillon, fermented in French oak, 50% new, within which it will age for 12 months on lees with batonnage. The Smith Haut Lafitte 2019 Blanc has a nose that unfolds in stages—offering intense white grapefruit, green mango, yuzu and orange blossoms scents to begin, giving way to hints of coriander seed, turmeric, shaved almonds and cedar chest with wafts of baking bread and beeswax coming through after some coaxing. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is wonderfully opulent with layers of citrus, stone fruit and savory flavors and a seductive oiliness to the texture, finishing very long and fantastically refreshing. Wow-o-WOW, that is good! 96-98+ points

“It is difficult in Bordeaux to have both high acidity and good ripeness,” began Château Smith Haut Lafitte’s technical director, Fabien Teitgen. “But this year you have both. Cool nights preserved the acidity nicely. Overall, 2019 was cooler than in 2018. We have the impression that 2019 was hot, but it was generally cooler. The wines are fresher and brighter. 2018 is powerful, but 2019 has intensity.” As an organic grower, Smith Haut Lafitte was one of the châteaux that got hit hard in 2018 with the mildew. “In 2018, we lost half the crop,” Teitgen confessed. “In 2019, we had no problems, in fact. The yields were normal for us.” “We have the opposition of two weather systems during the growing season,” he went on to say. “The first part—June / July—was warm and dry. Our young vines had a bit of water stress at the end of July. Then in August and September, we had cooler temperatures.

At the beginning of August, I had a map of the vineyard showing the depth of the roots. It was clear that the old vines with deep roots did much better.” Technically speaking, Tietgen noted that the acids were a bit higher in 2019. “The quantity of tannins is very similar to 2018,” he said. “But the texture is different. We had a strong synthesis of tannins, small berries—no need to extract too much, just wait with the infusion.”

Smith Haut Lafitte’s 2019 red may not have quite the same “wow” factor as the 2018, but I suspect that because of its increased freshness and slightly brighter style, there are many consumers who will actually prefer the 2019. The 2019 SHL Blanc is another story though—wow-o-WOW that is good!

  • 98p

Bright yellow colour with green hue. Excellent nose with aroma reminiscent of ripe pear, juicy grapefruit, hints of tangerine peel, cape gooseberries and hints of passion fruit in the background backed by elegant yet restrained toasting aroma and mild spices. On the palate very expressive with crisp acidity, almost salty minerality, savoury character and excellent tension. A wine with great freshness and convincing depth and length, multilayered character with astonishing elegance and persistence. (Tasted on march 20, 2020)

  • 96p
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Information

Origin

Martillac, Bordeaux

Other wines from this producer

Château Cantelys

Château Smith Haut Lafitte

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Les Hauts de Smith

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