Smith Haut Lafitte 25 Year Vertical

Held at the estate in April 2015  to celebrate the 25 years of ownership by Florence and Daniel Cathiard.

 

 

Reds

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 1990

24hl/h yield before selection, 50% cabernet sauvignon, 45% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, this was a difficult year for them weather wise; the wine has a lovely russet red colour, still some integrity and firmness to the anthocyanins, but looks like an older wine, on the nose also tertiary characteristics, some blue cheese and soft leather. Fruit is starting to fade, this is a very pretty older claret, touches not of volatility but of the acidity starting to take ascendance over the fruit. Drink over the next five years to retain this level of fruit. 88. Drink 2015-2020.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 1994

35hl/h yield, really see a more fleshed out fruit coming together here, more depth even though a bigger yield. Sweet purée on the nose, get some of the gourmet oak that is still making an impact, cloves and cedarwood, lovely wild strawberries and raspberries, tertiary flavours apparent but only just starting to soften Some very pretty fruit here, get some beautifully floral edges, with touches of liquorice, good persistency still. 89. Drink 2015-2023.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 1995

39hl/h yield, 40% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 20% cabernet franc. Still lovely firm cherry colour in the body of the wine, russet edging, fruit starting to slide from primary to secondary, that glorious softening up of the autumnal fruits. There is an attractive build up of power over the palate, this still has plenty of life left in it, still enough structure to cradle the fruit, although the overall impression is gentle, nothing aggressive, floral edging, get the violet from the cabernet franc. 91. Drink 2015-2023.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 1996

36 hl/h yield, 50% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 20% cabernet franc. Here you really feel a build up in power, the first one where you would describe the fruit as fully intact, almost primary. Love the balance of these wines, there is still oak tracing, but in the best way, giving a smoky halo. The persistency is good but gentle, a caress not a punch, plenty of classic Bordeaux appeal, impressive lift on the finish, this has a way to go, another 15 or 20 years. Good. 93. Drink 2015-2030.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 1999

32hl/h yield, 50% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 20% cabernet franc, this is holding up less well than the 1996, the fruit is sweet which suggests it is evolving more rapidly than some of the other vintages, sweetness before breakdown into a more volatile acidity. It is not there yet - this is still a very charming wine, good structure, fully intact, but for me one to drink in the next five years. 89. Drink 2015-2020.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 2000

32hl/h yield, 50% cabernet sauvignon, 35% merlot, 15% cabernet franc. This has a beautiful nose, soft curling cigar smoke, little house in the big woods. Lovely grip to the tannins here, the acidity and the power is turned up a notch, without being overwrought. Love how on the finish these are very delicate, they tiptoe across the finishing line while still retaining a sense of vigour. Very impressive, clear further ageing ability. 93. Drink 2015-2030.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 2001

32hl/h yield, 50% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, utterly gorgeous nose on this wine, bright fresh loganberries and bilberries, those wild autumnal hedgerow fruits. Still so much freshness here, menthol edged, the wine moves up gradually, a rising tide of smoky charred cedar, grilled fruits and precise clean minerality, but again the oak influence is not drying, maybe won't last as long as the 2000 because fruit structure not so deep but one of my favourites so far, absolutely perfect for carafing and drinking now, but will also age further. 94. Drink 2015-2028.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 2004

39hl/h yield, 55% cabernet sauvignon, 44% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot, some oak toasting more evident in the nose, fattening up the mid palate. This for me slightly overpowers in the mid palate, it adds weight but dampens the vibrancy evident in the 2001. Still, the final impression is of a well crafted dark fruit spicy wine, good minerality, good complexity. First year with petit verdot, and see the levels of cabernet franc start to drop. 91. Drink 2015-2025.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 2006

33hl/h, 60% cabernet sauvignon, 34% merlot, 5% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot. That percentage of franc continues to drop, in favour of cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot, as they push the ambition of the wine and look to create a more age-worthy expression of the appellation. Building power now not through oak but through grapes and vineyard work. This is tight still, very young for an almost 10 year old bottle, again the oak is supportive but in its place, if just a tad overpowering in the final finish. But great potential here, no doubt, and nearly ready to drink with a carafing. 93. Drink 2015-2030.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 2007

33hl/h, 60% cabernet sauvignon, 31% merlot, 8% cabernet franc, 1% perit verdot. High cabernet again even in this slightly more underpowered year, and get tiny touches of pyrazine here, it has not fully pulled off the feat of wriggling out of vintage characteristics. Here the oak is more of a crutch than in any other vintage, although honestly if you tasted it with food out of a vertical situation I have no doubt it would be wonderful. Best advice is to enjoy with food over the next few years. 89. Drink 2015-2021.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 2008

24hl/h 60% cabernet sauvignon, 32% merlot, 7% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot. This is rich, enveloping, has beautifully fresh attack, good fruit integrity, but a little short on the finish, a vintage character. This feels a little high in extraction, ambition evident. 90. Drink 2018-2030.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 2009

34 hl/h, 64% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 5% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot. This has plush, rich, round, lush damson fruit, beautifully enveloping, with a creme caramel toasting coming in behind the fruit. The persistency is excellent also. Touches of dark chocolate - I feel the heat though, which stops it for me reaching the heights, but this is a gorgeous wine, no doubt. 96. Drink 2019-2035.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 2010

35hl/h yield, 64% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 5% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot. This is tighter, more pulled in, high tannins, high acidity, high alcohol, all of the things that were true during the primeurs are still true today, this wine is going to run and run, the Mousetrap. Right now the tannins are snapping a little too firmly in to place, but the quality is clear - the overall structure is powerful but light, the vertical lift is excellent, it hovers above the ground. Dark spice stays on the palate, charcoal and grilled damsons. 97++. Drink 2019-2040..

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 2011

34hl/h yield, 55% cabernet sauvignon, 36% merlot, 8% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot, softer in structure, but for me this is not as balanced as the 9 or 10 by quite some way. Of course, you might say, but they could have dialed back on the extraction to make a virtue of it, and not sure that they have. There is still clear precision, clear black fruits, but maybe the ambition is bigger than the vintage. 91-92. Drink 2020-2030.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan 2012

32Hl/h 55% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 4% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot. Here they have a beautiful fruit quality, this is rich dark, still almost primeur in quality, silky tannins the texture is striking, feel the tension and precision. Making no apologies for being big wines, but with that same clarity of purpose that you get with other exemplary estates such as Pontet Canet. Great potential, but big, tightrope, needs time, one of bigger examples of the vintage. 95. Drink 2022-2040.

 

 

Whites

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc 1994

35hl/h, 98% sauvignon blanc 2% sauvignon gris. A pale golden yellow in colour and clear straw hay evolution on nose. This has a richness and fatness that would not have been there when young; inevitably the wine has deepened and spread over time giving a full flavoured bottle with good persistency. 88. Drink 2015-2020.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc 1999

33hl/h, 95% sauvignon blanc, 5% sauvignon gris, in this vintage they picked maybe a day or two later than they wanted, can see the 'sauvignon has semillonised' as techical director Fabien Teitgen so brilliantly put it. Certainly have achieved a rich round creamy lemon curd. They feel this has aged well and what they have lost in acidity they have made up for for in roundness - I'm not so sure that the trade-off was worth making. There is an attractive silky texture but no varietal typicity. 87. Drink 2015-2018.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc 2001

34hl/h 90% sauvignon blanc, 5% sauvignon gris, 5% semillon, this is at a beautiful age, full of savoury herbs, saffron, cumin, together with gorgeous bitter lemon peel, perfect older sauvignon, twisted and bitter in the best way. 93. Drink 2015-2023.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc 2007

30hl/h, 90% sauvignon blanc, 5% sauvignon gris, 5% semillon, this is beautiful, gorgeous lift, still very much in hold, swan lake, such persistency, love love love this wine, great combination of power and delicacy. 96. Drink 2015-2030.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc 2008

14hl/h, 90% sauvignon blanc, 5% sauvignon gris, 5% semillon. Tiny yields. Is is pretty intense overall, feels like warm grapes, maybe pushed a little too much, get sauvignon straw and hay but not as vibrant as the 2007 by some way, hail, so both red and white were low yield. 90. Drink 2015-2020.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc 2009

30hl/h, 90% sauvignon blanc, 5% sauvignon gris, 5% semillon, feels like a hot vintage again, don't love the heat on this, can feel the oak which is distracting. 92. Drink 2015-2020.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc 2010

32 hl/h, 90% sauvignon blanc, 5% sauvignon gris, 5% semillon, Clever winemaking, this has tension and clean fruit even though feel still a warm ripeness, great apricot and stone fruit flesh sliced through with lime blossom, mango and fresh citrus. One that should age beautifully. 94. Drink 2015-2025.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc 2011

30hl/h, 90% sauvignon blanc, 5% sauvignon gris, 5% semillon, right off the nose this zings out of the glass, love it. Wow, this is the best white here along with the 2007, maybe even surpassing it, vertical, mineral, enciting, refreshing, great definition, beautiful fruit, stone fruits, fresh citrus. 96++. Drink 2015-2030.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc 2012

31 hl/h, 90% sauvignon blanc, 5% sauvignon gris, 5% semillon. One year younger than the 11 but feels older, it is more structured, rounder, and not as fun. Still that delicious stone fruit cut through with crisp citrus though. 93. Drink 2015-2020.

 

Château Smith Haut Lafitte AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc 2013

28 hl/h, 90% sauvignon blanc, 5% sauvignon gris, 5% semillon. Gorgeous apricot, fresh, excellent. 94. Drink 2015-2025.