Curious to discover everything about Smith Haut Lafitte wine before buying one?
With a rich history spanning more than six centuries, Smith Haut Lafitte is one of the oldest wineries in Bordeaux, France. It produces some of the most expensive red wines with not only velvety tannins and exotic smoky nuances, but also excellent critics’ ratings.
These delicious red wines were ranked as Grand Cru Classe in the 1959 Classification of the Graves.
This article explores the world of Smith Haut Lafitte in detail - its colorful history, vineyards in the Pessac Leognan appellation, unique wine styles, and the best Smith Haut Lafitte wines to invest in 2021.
What’s more? You’ll discover a super-easy way to invest in these fine wines.
This Article Contains
- A Quick Intro To Smith Haut Lafitte Winery
- Smith Haut Lafitte: A History Of Six And A Half Centuries
- The Terroir Of Smith Haut Lafitte
- How To Serve Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte
- Best Smith Haut Lafitte Wines In 2021 (Including Tasting Notes, Prices)
- 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac Leognan
- 2015 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac Leognan
- 2005 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac Leognan
- 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac Leognan
- 2015 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc,Pessac Leognan
- 2017 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac Leognan
- 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte 'Le Petit Haut Lafitte', Pessac Leognan
- 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte 'Les Hauts de Smith', Pessac Leognan
- 2018 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte 'Les Hauts de Smith', Pessac Leognan
- 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte 'Les Hauts de Smith' Blanc, Pessac Leognan
A Quick Intro To Smith Haut Lafitte Winery
Smith Haut Lafitte is located in the Pessac Léognan appellation of Bordeaux. It produces a range of delicious red and white Bordeaux wines.
While the red wines are made from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot grape varieties, the whites are made from Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, and Semillon.
Fun fact: If you’re ever in Bordeaux, plan a stay at Laffite’s luxury hotel ‘Les Sources de Caudalie’ which will take you on a tour of the wine estate. And don’t miss their Vinotherapy Spa as well.
Smith Haut Lafitte: A History Of Six And A Half Centuries
Verrier du Dubosc, who planted a few vines on Graves’ gravelly plateau in 1365, is the first recorded owner of the estate.
Through the centuries, the estate saw many owners - George Smith (a Scottish wine merchant), Lodi Martin Duffour-Dubergier (the Mayor of Bordeaux), and Louis Eschenaur (a Bordeaux negociant who exported wine to America.)
Louis Eschenauer ended up selling it to the estate’s current owners - Florence Cathiard and Daniel Cathiard in 1990.
Over the years, the Cathiards introduced several changes to improve the quality of their wines:
- In 1995, they built a cooperage to produce their own barrels. The cooperage has helped in improving wine quality by reducing new oak aging.
- Introduced modern technology like the Oenoview satellite imagery system and optical sorting technology
- Expanded their Bordeaux holdings by purchasing Chateau Beauregard in Pomerol and Bastor Lamontagne in Sauternes. However, they sold the latter in 2019.
- Further expanded by purchasing the historic Flora Springs in the Rutherford appellation of Napa Valley in 2019
Today, the Cathiards reside at the renovated estate and oversee the winegrowing process.
Let’s take a walk through the famed Lafitte vineyards.
The Terroir Of Smith Haut Lafitte
Located in Martillac (south of Bordeaux) on the gravelly plateau of Pessac-Leognan, the Lafitte vineyards enjoy a distinct terroir - a blend of natural drainage, good sun exposure, and organic Gunzian gravel soils.
The soils are a blend of clay, gravel, and sand with deposits of river stones, semi-precious pebbles, silica, and limestone. This gives the wines a unique richness and finesse.
The vineyards are divided into 140 parcels. The best vineyard plot is located at the plateau’s center and is planted with the best Cabernet Sauvignon vines.
67 hectares of the Lafitte vineyards are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot red wine grapes. The remaining 11 hectares are planted with Sauvignon Blanc with small quantities of Sauvignon Gris and Semillon white wine grapes.
The average vine age is 38 years - the oldest red is close to 65 years, and the oldest white vine is 60 years old.
The Cathiards, along with their technical director, Fabien Teitgen, mapped the terroir of their brilliant vineyard plots to adopt the right modern viticulture techniques for their vines.
Here are some of the interesting viticultural practices followed:
- Horses are used to plow the fragile slopes.
- A satellite system keeps track of the vines and ensures they reach the right ripeness level.
- Handpicked grapes are placed in small trays to avoid breaking the skins and oxidizing the juice.
- Rainwater harvesting, recycling wastewater
- Use of solar energy
- Organic compost is made using vine cuttings
- Carbon dioxide is recycled into bicarbonate
Smith Haut Lafitte Winemaking
The Smith Haut Lafitte winery works entirely on gravity flow. Here’s a quick rundown of the Lafitte winemaking process:
- The pre-sorted grapes reach the winery, where they are sorted again using an optical sorting system - so only the finest fruit reach the winepress.
- After sorting, the grapes are pre-fermented and macerated before they are added to oak vats for temperature-controlled fermentation.
The white wines don’t go through malolactic fermentation.
- Finally, the winemaker allows the wine to age on lees for a few months in the barrels made in their cooperage.
The red Bordeaux wine is aged in 60-70% new French oak barrels for 16-18 months, while the whites are aged in 50% new French oak barrels for 12 months before bottling.
Let’s take a look at the different wine styles.
The Wines Of Smith Haut Lafitte
Smith Haut Lafitte produces six different wines:
- Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge: Known for its ripe tannin, this Grand Vin is made predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grape varieties with small quantities of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
- Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc: Made from Smith Haut Lafitte’s best fruit, this delicious white wine is a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon, and 5% Sauvignon Gris grape varieties.
- Les Hauts de Smith Rouge: This second wine is an early-drinking wine produced from a blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has lighter tannins and a more robust fruit flavor than the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge.
- Les Hauts de Smith Blanc: It is a smooth and dense Sauvignon Blanc varietal wine.
- Le Petit Haut Lafitte Rouge: Le Petit Haut Lafitte is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot.
- Le Petit Haut Lafitte Blanc: This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon is made specially for export.
Looking for the perfect dish to serve with your exotic Smith Haut Lafitte?
How To Serve Chateau Smith Haut Laffite
The red wine of Smith Haut Lafitte tastes best at 15.5oC or 60oF.
Smith Haut Lafitte red wines are best served with classic meat dishes like roasted or grilled beef, lamb, and duck. The white wines should be served with seafood dishes like shellfish, crab, and sushi.
Best Smith Haut Lafitte Wines In 2021 (Including Tasting Notes, Prices)
Here are some of the best bottles to buy in 2021.
1. 2009 Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac Leognan
An opaque purple-colored Bordeaux wine, the 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte has a layered bouquet of complex aromas.
The nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon opens with a black fruit aroma of black cherry, black currant, and black raspberry puree with subtle liquorice, charcoal, lead, and incense notes. The palate has a rich and concentrated red fruit flavor with sweet, velvety tannins.
Price of 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte: $301
2. 2015 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac Leognan
The second wine on the list is the 2015 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte vintage.
This young Cabernet Sauvignon wine gives off exotic spice, licorice, and cassis aromas. The palate of the wine is medium to full-bodied with balanced dark fruit flavor and ripe tannin.
Price of 2015 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte: $153
3. 2005 Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac Leognan
Another great French wine, this vintage has a beautiful floral nose with subtle graphite, blueberry, black fruit, and cassis aromas. The palate is layered with concentrated flavor and smooth tannin.
Price of 2005 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte: $181
4. 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac Leognan
One of Lafitte’s best wines, this Bordeaux white is full of sensuous scents.
It has an intense fruit flavor on the palate with balanced acidity. This vintage’s nose exhibits sweet citrus notes of honeyed melon, tropical fruit, creme de cassis, and orange zest.
Price of 2009 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc: $161
5. 2015 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac Leognan
A delicious white wine, the 2015 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc reflects power, density, and texture.
On the nose, you get fragrant lilac, black fruit, and licorice aromas. The palate is full of red fruit flavor and bright acidity.
Price of 2015 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc: $142
6. 2017 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac Leognan
This 2017 vintage showcases the unique Leognan terroir and the richness of Gunzian gravel.
The nose of this white Bordeaux wine has a seductive aroma of red fruit, green apple, pear, stone, and pineapple. The creamy palate is tight with superb finesse and dark fruit flavor.
Price of Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc: $149
7. 2009 Château Smith Haut Lafitte 'Le Petit Haut Lafitte', Pessac Leognan
This young Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend has deep and powerful black currant, plum, fig, dark chocolate, and tobacco notes on the nose. The palate of this French wine is fleshy with velvety tannins.
Price of 2009 Château Smith Haut Lafitte 'Le Petit Haut Lafitte': $70
8. 2009 Château Smith Haut Lafitte 'Les Hauts de Smith', Pessac Leognan
A great wine by Lafitte, this Cabernet Sauvignon is admired for its intense fruit and fragrant lilac notes.
This red Bordeaux wine has a layered and complex red fruit nose with subtle liquorice, black currant, dark chocolate, and spicy aromas. On the palate, this French wine has solid tannins and a long finish.
Price of 2009 Château Smith Haut Lafitte 'Les Hauts de Smith': $78
9. 2018 Château Smith Haut Lafitte 'Les Hauts de Smith', Pessac Leognan
Lafitte’s second wine, 2018 Les Hauts de Smith, is known for its distinct fruit flavor and sensuous scents. It is a textured red wine with citrus fruit and raspberry puree aroma and smooth tannin on the palate.
Price of Château Smith Haut Lafitte 'Les Hauts de Smith': $125
10. 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte 'Les Hauts de Smith' Blanc, Pessac Leognan
This Bordeaux vintage has a gorgeous and expressive nose with candied citrus fruit, yellow peaches, honeysuckle, and vanilla scents. On the palate, this Bordeaux red has excellent depth and refreshing acidity.
Price of 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte 'Les Hauts de Smith' Blanc: $118
Should You Invest In Smith Haut Lafitte Wines?
The solid tannins and structure of Chateau Smith Haut wines give them a great aging potential of 12-30 years.
Smith Haut wines also consistently score 90+ points from wine critics like Robert Parker and James Suckling. The 2009 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc scored a perfect 100 from Robert Parker and saw a 202% surge in its prices.
These wines also show slow and steady price appreciation. The 2017 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte went up by 23% from $96 in 2020 to $119 in 2021. The 2012 vintage grew 16% from $90 to $105 in a year (2020 - 2021.)
For a long term investment, look out for these sought-after vintages: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, and 2005.
How do you buy authentic bottles of these wines without having to go through retail markups or auctions? Also, how will you store your Lafitte wines so you won’t ruin their exotic flavors?
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Smith Haut Lafitte is a brilliant wine estate with a history that fascinates every wine enthusiast. Its delicious Cabernet Sauvignon reds and Sauvignon Blanc whites not only appeal to a wine enthusiast, but also to seasoned wine investors.
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