Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Leognan, 2018

  • icon-type Type

    Red

  • icon-year Year

    2018

  • icon-style Style

    Dry

  • icon-country Country

    France

  • icon-alcohollevel Alcohol level

    13.5%

  • icon-grapevariety Grape variety
    Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Merlot 34%, Cabernet Franc 4%, Petit Verdot 2%

Very deep, intense black colour. The nose is already expressive with a mix of red and black (blackberry, blackcurrant, cherry, raspberry) and spices, characteristic of perfectly ripe grapes. Swirling in the glass reveals considerable complexity with delicate floral notes, sweet spices, and gunflint. The wine starts out broad-based, concentrated, and powerful on the palate. The tannin is rich without compromising on freshness, balance, and delicate flavours. The expression "an iron first in a velvet glove" perfectly sums up this wine!

About Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Château Smith Haut Lafitte is a Bordeaux wine from the Pessac-Léognan appellation, ranked among the Crus Classés for red wine in the Classification of Graves wine of 1953 and 1959. The winery and vineyards are located south of the city of Bordeaux, in the commune of Martillac.

The estate originates in the 14th century with the house of Verrier Du Boscq who planted vines on a gravelly plateau named Lafitte already in 1365. In 1720 it was bought by the Scotsman Georges Smith who added his name to the lieu-dit (English: place-name), and who built the manor house of the property.

The Louis Eschenauer company bought estate in 1958, after having already distributed the wine from the early 20th century. In 1990, Daniel Cathiard bought Smith Haut Lafitte and embarked on an investment programme, including the building of a new cellar.

The vineyard area consists of 67 hectares (170 acres), 56 hectares of which are planted with grape varieties of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. The remaining 11 hectares are cultivated with white varieties of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon and 5% Sauvignon Gris.

The Grand vin, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, is annually produced in 10,000 cases of the red wine and 2,500 cases of the dry white. The second wine, Les Hauts de Smith, has a production of 5,500 cases, and exists in red, white and rosé versions. The rosé is produced as a Bordeaux AOC. There is an alternative second wine called Le Petit Haut Lafitte produced exclusively as a red wine with a higher mix of Cabernet Grapes for a more left bank feel - this second wine is steadily gaining popularity.

Grape variety
Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varieties worldwide. It is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but can also be vinified alone, as in the Loire's Chinon. In addition to being used in blends and produced as a varietal in Canada and the United States, it is sometimes made into ice wine in those regions.

Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wine that contributes finesse and lends a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on the growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, cassis, and violets.

Records of Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux go back to the end of the 18th century, although it was planted in Loire long before that time. DNA analysis indicates that Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère.

Cabernet Franc shares many of the same phenolic and aroma compounds as Cabernet Sauvignon but with some noticeable differences. Cabernet Franc tends to be more lightly pigmented and produces wines with the same level of intensity and richness. Cabernet Franc tends to have a more pronounced perfume with notes of raspberries, blackcurrants, violets and graphite. It is often characterised by a green, vegetal strike that can range from leaves to green bell peppers. It has slightly less tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon and tends to produce a wine with a smoother mouthfeel. New World examples of Cabernet Franc tend to emphasise the fruit more and may delay harvesting the grapes to try to minimise the green leafy notes.

Alternative Names: Bordo, Bouchet, Bouchy, Breton, Cabernet Franco, Cabernet Frank

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world's most widely recognised red wine grape varieties. It is grown in nearly every major wine producing country among a diverse spectrum of climates from Canada's Okanagan Valley to Lebanon's Beqaa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognised through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. From France and Spain, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World where it found new homes in places like California's Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Napa Valley, New Zealand's Hawkes Bay, South Africa's Stellenbosch region, Australia's Margaret River and Coonawarra regions, and Chile's Maipo Valley and Colchagua. For most of the 20th century, it was the world's most widely planted premium red wine grape until it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990. However, by 2015, Cabernet Sauvignon had once again become the most widely planted wine grape.

Despite its prominence in the industry, the grape is a relatively new variety, the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France. Its popularity is often attributed to its ease of cultivation - the grapes have thick skins and the vines a re hardy and naturally low yielding, budding late to avoid frost and resistant to viticultural hazards such as rot and insects - and to its consistent presentation of structure and flavours which express the typical character ("typicity") of the variety. Familiarity and ease of pronunciation have helped to sell Cabernet Sauvignon wines to consumers, even when from unfamiliar wine regions.

The classic profile of Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be full-bodied wines with high tannins and noticeable acidity that contributes to the wine's aging potential. In cooler climates, Cabernet Sauvignon tends to produce wines with blackcurrant notes that can be accompanied by green bell pepper notes, mint and cedar which will all become more pronounced as the wine ages. In more moderate climates the blackcurrant notes are often seen with black cherry and black olive notes while in very hot climates the currant flavours can veer towards the over-ripe and "jammy" side. In parts of Australia, particularly the Coonawarra wine region of South Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to have a characteristic eucalyptus or menthol notes.

The style of Cabernet Sauvignon is strongly influenced by the ripeness of the grapes at harvest. When more on the unripe side, the grapes are high in pyrazines and will exhibit pronounced green bell peppers and vegetal flavours. When harvested overripe the wines can taste jammy and may have aromas of stewed blackcurrants. Some winemakers choose to harvest their grapes at different ripeness levels in order to incorporate these different elements and potentially add some layer of complexity to the wine. When Cabernet Sauvignon is young, the wines typically exhibit strong fruit flavours of black cherries and plum. The aroma of blackcurrants is one of the most distinctive and characteristic element of Cabernet Sauvignon that is present in virtually every style of the wine across the globe. Styles from various regions and producers may also have aromas of eucalyptus, mint and tobacco. As the wines age they can sometimes develop aromas associated with cedar, cigar boxes and pencil shavings. In general New World examples have more pronounced fruity notes while Old World wines can be more austere with heightened earthy notes.

Alternative Names: Bidure, Bouche, Bordo, Bouchet, Burdeos Tinto, Lafite, Vidure

Merlot

Merlot is a dark blue-coloured wine grape variety, that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to be a diminutive of merle, the French name for the blackbird, probably a reference to the colour of the grape. Its softness and "fleshiness", combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz Cabernet, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine, and it is the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets. This flexibility has helped to make it one of the world's most planted grape varieties. As of 2004, Merlot was estimated to be the third most grown variety at 260,000 hectares (640,000 acres) globally. The area planted to Merlot has continued to increase, with 266,000 hectares (660,000 acres) in 2015.

While Merlot is made across the globe, there tend to be two main styles. The "International style" favoured by many New World wine regions tends to emphasise late harvesting to gain physiological ripeness and produce inky, purple coloured wines that are full in body with high alcohol and lush, velvety tannins with intense, plum and blackberry fruit. While this international style is practiced by many Bordeaux wine producers, the traditional "Bordeaux style" of Merlot involves harvesting Merlot earlier to maintain acidity and producing more medium-bodied wines with moderate alcohol levels that have fresh, red fruit flavours (raspberries, strawberries) and potentially leafy, vegetal notes.

As a varietal wine, Merlot can make soft, velvety wines with plum flavours. While Merlot wines tend to mature faster than Cabernet Sauvignon, some examples can continue to develop in the bottle for decades. There are three main styles of Merlot - a soft, fruity, smooth wine with very little tannins; a fruity wine with more tannic structure; and, finally, a brawny, highly tannic style made in the profile of Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the fruit notes commonly associated with Merlot include cassis, black and red cherries, blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, mulberry, olallieberry and plum. Vegetable and earthy notes include black and green olives, cola nut, bell pepper, fennel, humus, leather, mushrooms, rhubarb and tobacco. Floral and herbal notes commonly associated with Merlot include green and black tea, eucalyptus, laurel, mint, oregano, pine, rosemary, sage, sarsaparilla and thyme. When Merlot has spent significant time in oak, the wine may show notes of caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee bean, dill weed, mocha, molasses, smoke, vanilla and walnut.

Alternative Names: Alicante, Alicante Noir, Bégney, Bidal, Bidalhe, Bigney, Bigney rouge, Bini, Bini Ruzh, Bioney, Black Alicante, Bordeleza belcha, Crabutet, Crabutet Noir, Crabutet Noir merlau, Hebigney, Higney, Higney rouge, Langon, Lecchumskij, Médoc Noir, Merlau, Merlaut, Merlaut Noir, Merle, Merle Petite, Merleau, Merlô, Merlot Noir, Merlot black, Merlot blauer, Merlot crni, Merlot nero, Merlott, Merlou, Odzalesi, Odzhaleshi, Odzhaleshi Legkhumskii, Petit Merle, Picard, Pikard, Plan medre, Planet Medok, Plant du Médoc, Plant Médoc, Saint-Macaire, Same de la Canan, Same dou Flaube, Sème de la Canau, Sème Dou Flube, Semilhon rouge, Semilhoum rouge, Semilhoun rouge, Sémillon rouge, Sud des Graves, Vidal, Vini Ticinesi, Vitrai and Vitraille

Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot is a variety of red wine grape, principally used in classic Bordeaux blends. It ripens much later than the other varieties in Bordeaux, often too late, so it fell out of favour in its home region. When it does ripen it adds tannin, colour and flavour, in small amounts, to the blend. Petit Verdot has attracted attention among winemakers in the New World, where it ripens more reliably and has been made into single varietal wine. It is also useful in 'stiffening' the mid palate of Cabernet Sauvignon blends.

When young its aromas have been likened to banana and pencil shavings. Strong tones of violet and leather develop as it matures.

Alternative Names: Verdot, Petit Verdau

About Pessac-Leognan

Pessac-Léognan is a prestigious appellation for red wine in the Bordeaux region of south-western France. It was carved out of the Graves sub-region in 1987 as recognition for its high quality red and white wines. Many of the estates in what is now Pessac-Léognan were the best performers in the Graves Classification of 1959.

The regions wines tend to be based on the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grape varieties. They best suit the terroir of Pessac-Léognan. The dominant soil type is the same gravel (and sand) which gave Graves its name.

Pessac-Léognan's white wines are made predominantly from Sauvignon Blanc (a required minimum of 25 percent) and Semillon grapes. This duo thrive on the sandier soils of the appellation and produce extremely long-lived wines. In other regions and countries, blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon are usually best consumed within a few years of harvest. The wines are often matured in oak for greater complexity.

The northern vineyards of the appellation are intermingled with the southern fringes of Bordeaux city. Those in the south are surrounded by the forests which produce the other main export of Graves: timber. Orchards and fields dominate the landscape of the Entre-Deux-Mers region just across the Garonne river, but pine forests and housing are predominant in Pessac-Léognan.

Among many top chateaux, the four most prestigious are Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion, Laville Haut-Brion and Pape Clément. The latter is named after Pope Clément V, who ordered its original vineyards to be planted in the 14th Century. Each of these is located within the southern city limits of Bordeaux. The soils here are deep, with a high proportion of gravel, and are considered the best of the appellation. Their superior drainage helps to maintain the high quality of the vineyards.

The commune (or Bordeaux suburb) of Pessac lies just to the south of these chateaux. Léognan lies 10 kilometres (six miles) further on. The latter is also home to several other quality members of the Bordeaux elite. These include Domaine de Chevalier, and Chateaux Haut-Bailly, Malartic-Lagravière, Larrivet Haut-Brion and de Fieuzal. Léognan is surrounded almost entirely by pine forests and vineyards, and benefits from the same superior drainage as Pessac.

Southeast of Léognan lies the commune of Martillac. Smith Haut Lafitte has made massive improvements since the 1990s, and boasts an impressive hotel and spa. Latour-Martillac, in the very south of the Pessac-Léognan zone is another chateau on the upgrade.

Regular price $976.00

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