|Grapes||Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot|
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. Very much a year for Cabernet, say the team at Smith, and this is a new high percentage. Like many properties, they stopped the harvest for three days to allow the Cabernets to ripen fully. They feel the Merlots were as good as in 2015, but the Cabernets were better. It has a very distinctive Cabernet nose, yet is surprisingly plush with it. Gorgeous homogeneity of texture all through the palate, superb fruit density and length. An iron bar core of Cabernet concentration which is firmed by good acidity. Impressive stuff, and very long. Drinking range: 2028 - 2045 Rating: 94-96 L&S (Apr 2017)
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Moving to the reds, the 2016 Château Smith Haut Lafitte checks in as 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot that spent 18 months in 60% new oak. It’s undeniably a more elegant, reserved style from this estate, yet it still offers full-bodied richness and depth, with a classic perfume of cassis, black currants, cold fireplace, wood smoke, and tobacco. Deep, nicely concentrated, seamless, and, again, incredibly elegant, it’s going to flesh out nicely with short-term cellaring and keep for 20-30 years. Drinking range: 2022 - 2052Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com(Feb 2019)
The Smith-Haut-Lafitte 2016 Blanc is the classic blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris and 5% Sémillon, picked from 12 to 24 September and matured in 50% new oak. It has a complex bouquet with citrus fruit, peach skin, lemon curd and a touch of lanolin that unfolds wonderfully in the glass. The palate is very well balanced with a touch of wild honey on the entry. There is a spicy vein to this white Pessac-Léognan with a dab of ginger enlivening the refreshingly feisty finish. Bon vin! Drinking range: 2021 - 2040 Rating: 93-95 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com(Apr 2017)
Blackish crimson. Nose that manages to combine flesh and ripeness with freshness. Some restraint here and some very natural flavours. A quiet king. Great appetising wine with the ripeness of the vintage. Very classy. Drinking range: 2024 - 2042 Rating: 17.5 Jancis Robinson OBE MW - www.JancisRobinson.com(Apr 2017)
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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