The 2012 is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot that is being raised in 60% new barrels. It has a intense bouquet, very lifted with the Merlot lending it a very floral aspect. Touches of crème de cassis develop with time. The palate is very well balanced with a smooth texture although you can feel the tannins exert their influence on the structured, much more Left Bank style finish that leaves a tertiary/tobacco aftertaste. This might be a long-term SHL. Rating: 92-94 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com (May 2013)
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A brilliant success again, this blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot is a medium-bodied, impressively concentrated wine with copious quantities of red and black fruits. Licorice, roasted herbs and a touch of background oak are present in this slightly precocious wine, which should be accessible when released. It has the depth to evolve for 20 or more years. Talk about a severe selection – only 41% made it into the grand vin Rating: 92-94 Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate, www.RobertParker.com(Apr 2013)
As it did in 2011, the increasingly impressive red from this top Pessac-Léognan property outperformed the more famous white. This is a serious yet very stylish red, combining perfume with medium weight fruit, smoky oak with nuanced, refined tannins. Long and complex with notes of violets, graphite and cassis. Drink: 2020-35 Rating: 94 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.com(Apr 2013)
Elegantly concentrated cassis fruit with tobacco leaf overtones, habitual Smith seductively smooth and spicy, will show early and last well. Drink: 2015 - 2028. Rating: 17.25 Steven Spurrier(Apr 2013)
Château Smith Haut Lafitte
Owned by the Cathiard family since 1990, Smith Haut Lafitte has a history that extends back to 1365. Originally owned by the Bosq Family, it was bought by Scotsman George Smith in the eighteenth century, and he gave it his name. He also built the manor house, and shipped the wine back to England.
In 1842, it passed, from his mother, to a M. Duffour-Dubergier, who was mayor of Bordeaux. His work raised the quality level and it was classified Grand Cru in the 1855 classification. The 20th century was mostly about Louis Eschenauer and his company, which distibuted the wines and eventually bought the property in 1958, investing over the time and building the barrel cellar.
The Cathiards fell in love with Smith in 1990, and have lavished care and considerable investment on it since then. Daniel Cathiard was a former ski champion, a member of the famous French Olympic team that included Jean-Claude Killy, and it was at that time that he met his wife Florence. Both have impressive track records of running businesses. Daniel built up the small chain of supermarkets that he inherited, and added a chain of sports shops, the group employing nine thousand people. Florence worked with him and also ran her own advertising company, ending up in a senior position in the McCann group. In 1990 they sold all their business interests to concentrate on Smith, where they have lived since. One of their daughters runs the Caudalie beauty products company (products based on the polyphenols extracted from grape pips), and the other two boutique hotels, including the 'Sources de Caudalie', next to Smith.
The Cathiards have since bought Château Cantelys in Martillac, and also, in 2012, part of the vineyard of Château Le Thil, as well as the house and the park. More recently they have been involved in the consortium which bought Château Bearegard (Pomerol) and Château Bastor Lamontagne (Sauternes).
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