|Subregion||France > Bordeaux > Left Bank > Pessac-Léognan|
Daniel and Florence Cathiard transformed this property in the early 1990s and have been making very individual, sexy wines since then which combine flavours of classic earthy Graves with silky and seductive new oak from barrels produced by their in-house cooper. The 67 hectare vineyard is planted with 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and the remainder Cabernet Franc.
The 2016 Smith Haut Lafitte has a deep garnet color. It bursts onto the scene with dramatic notes of crème de cassis, blueberry compote, and chocolate-covered cherries, plus suggestions of star anise, lavender, and fallen leaves, with a touch of iron ore. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is an exercise in elegance and sophistication, framed by exquisitely ripe, plush tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long and with an achingly beautiful perfume.
The blackcurrant and blueberry aromas are lifted and beautiful. Lots of flowers, too, together with some mushroom and dried-flower undertones. Full-bodied with firm and very silky tannins giving a lovely texture. Bright acidity lifts the finish and gives it drive and force. Better after 2025.
This is gorgeous, extremely ripe, tight, fresh and rich. It has clear, deep tannins and a thrilling tension that slices right through the ripe, autumnal fruit and teases out the finish. There are true layers to the wine, with flavours of cassis, liquorice and charcoal, demonstrating a reserved power that keeps on delivering. The tannin count is at a full 100IPT, a touch higher than in 2010 but they just float along, offering the perfect resistance and interest in your mouth. Technical director Fabien Teitgen used 10% stems in the vinification for 2016, utilising organic winemaking methods. The blend is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet franc and 1% Petit Verdot, aged in 60% new oak barrels. 3.6pH.
Drinking Window 2027 - 2050
Tasted blind. Sweet and rather glorious. Pure pleasure and with both potential and current enjoyment. But could do with a little more freshness.
Drink 2025 – 2042
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. Drink 2022-2052.
Concentrated rich fruit the palate has sweet ripe cassis and black cherry dark chocolate in the middle depth of flavour. Fresher at the back the tannins fine and integrated the finish has depth of flavour sweet fruit. 2026-40
There was a lot of selection for the Grand Vin this year, which was down to 35% of the production, and it has paid off by giving the wine an extra level of complexity. Sappy, fine and well balanced, with subtle cassis and fresh tobacco flavours and the tannic backbone to age further in bottle. 2024-34
Composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot and matured in 60% new oak for 18 months, the 2016 Smith Haut Lafitte has a very deep garnet-purple color, opening with sensuous scents of warm black cherries, blackberry pie, star anise and fragrant lilacs with hints of chocolate box, cigar box and pencil lead plus wafts of truffles and crushed rocks. Medium to full-bodied, rich and seductive, it completely fills the palate with perfumed black berry preserves and superbly plush tannins, finishing epically long and beautifully layered. 2023 - 2046
The 2016 Smith-Haut-Lafitte is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot that was picked between 29 September and 19 October at 35 hectoliters per hectare. It is being matured in 60% new oak for a total of 18 months. "We have never been so proud of our Cabernet Sauvignon," winemaker Fabien Tietgen told me. Now, this has a much subtler bouquet than recent vintages, you could argue, more intellectual than the 2015 Smith-Haut-Lafitte. First there are aromas of blackberry, briary and just a hint of iodine, then underneath that, marine-like aromas such as freshly shucked oyster shells, pressed flowers and a touch of brown spice. There is wonderful delineation here. The palate is medium-bodied with plenty of tightly-wound black fruit, intermingling with smoke, black pepper, spice box and a touch of bay leaf. This is an extremely precise Smith-Haut-Lafitte, certainly a cerebral 2016 that might well be approachable young, yet will certainly age in consummate style. The château's own tasting note reads "What more could one possibly want from a wine?" The answer to that is: "Another bottle." Drink 2023-2050.
Wow. This is incredibly rich and exotic. Full-bodied, so deep and long. It lasts for minutes. Perfectly polished tannins evidence how texturally focused and supple this is. Decadent and enticing. From organically grown grapes. Super quality of cabernet is on show here. We will see if 2016 is better than 2015.
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.