Smith Haut Lafitte 2017


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.

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Tasting Notes

The 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte has an open and expressive bouquet, a mixture of red and black fruit, pressed iris petals mixed with subtle marine notes, iodine and seaweed. It is not as powerful as the 2018 but it is nicely focused. The palate is fresh on the entry with crisp tannins and vibrant black fruit. There is superb energy towards the graphite and mint infused finish. There is a lot of energy in this 2017 that actually renders it quite approachable, though I would prefer to leave bottles down in the cellar for several years. Drink 2023-2045.

Score: 94Neal Martin,, February 2020

The 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte was not affected by frost and is therefore a classic blend matured in 60% new oak. The bouquet demands a little encouragement from the glass this year, eventually opening with floral scents, more iris than violet, flanked by blackberry and bilberry. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin that comes across just a little chalky in style. This feels very cohesive and comes replete with a detailed and nuanced finish that might lack the flair and volume of the 2016, but it is certainly sustained and persistent. Give this four to five years in bottle and subject to optimal barrel maturation this may well land at the top of my banded score. Drink 2022-2045.

Score: 93/95Neal Martin,, May 2018

A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte opens slowly to reveal complex notes of crushed black cherries, black currants and wild blueberries with touches of lavender, pencil lead, cast iron pan and a waft of aniseed. Medium-bodied and elegant with great freshness and quiet intensity, it has firm, grainy tannins and a sustained yet ethereal mid-palate, with a long, energetic, mineral-laced finish.

Score: 94/96Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (236), April 2018

Wonderful depth of fruit here with blackberries, wet earth, mushrooms, dark chocolate and violets. Full-bodied, tight and poised with polished and compressed tannins. Consistent finish. Linear and focused. A blend of 60% cabernet sauvignon, 35% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot. Drinkable now, but better in 2022.

Score: 97James Suckling,, January 2020

This is a solid Smith for the vintage with blackberry and blackcurrant character. Full to medium body, firm and silky tannins and a lingering finish. Excellent potential here.

Score: 95/96James Suckling,, April 2018

The 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte is easily one of the highlights of the vintage. Dense, unctuous and impeccably balanced, the 2017 exudes depth from start to finish. Charcoal embers, graphite, menthol, licorice and sage add myriad shades of nuance to the plush, unctuous dark raspberry jam fruit. This is a super impressive showing from Smith Haut Lafitte. I tasted the 2017 two times. On both occasions, the wine showed tremendous aromatic and flavor depth.

Score: 94/97Antonio Galloni,, May 2018

Very intense blueish crimson. Mild and fairly neutral on the nose. Extraordinarily soft! Perhaps this is the answer for 2017? Make a Nouveau! Easy-peasy, but don’t pay top whack for it. Very light tannins.
Drink 2022-2030

Score: 16Jancis Robinson MW,, May 2018

Smells sweet-fruited and sweetly oaky. Lovely fruit flavour on the palate – dark-red fruit – could perhaps do with just a little more fruit stuffing in the middle but this may just need a bit longer in barrel. Finishes fresh and the tannins are dry and refined. A sleeping beauty perhaps?
Drink 2024-2037

Score: 17Julia Harding MW,, April 2018

The vineyards that supply fruit for the grand vin suffered almost no frost damage so production is only 5% down on 2016. The 2017 blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. At 13.5 degrees this has 1 degree less alcohol than the previous 2 vintages and they describe it as a vintage of "freshness and balance between the quality of 2014 and 2015". Deep ruby colour. An impressive intensity on the nose, with layered and fleshy blue and black fruits supported by creamy, sweet vanilla. The palate has a silky texture from very fine-grained and ripe tannins. The juicy forest fruits are propped up by a dolop of creamy vanilla from sweet and toasty new oak. Despite this, the overall sensation is one of precision and poise. The long and vibrant finish of black fruits is synonymous with modern Smith Haut Lafitte, which is a success again in 2017.

Score: 16+Farr Vintners, April 2018

The nose is light fragrant with citrus freshness the start of the palate bright with a mix of fresh fruits. Pear and pineapple in the middle gives a richer feel depth of fruit at the back with citrus and apple giving a lovely crisp finish. Drink 2021-2036.

Score: 93/95Derek Smedley MW,, May 2018

This sits a long way above the second wines this year, and here they are very close to recent successes, with excellent juice running right through the cassis, bilberry, liquorice, dark chocolate and charcoal notes. It's an extremely classical, sculpted vintage with a lovely grilled edge that gives a gourmet, confident feel. It has a velvety texture and finely-placed, flexible tannins that are clearly going to age well. This is a real success, and a testament to their attention to detail - for example, they had 105 pickers in 2016 but 160 pickers in 2017, because with the September rain they wanted to go more quickly. Half of the vineyard is now farmed biodynamically, with full conversion expected for 2020. 60% new oak. 1% Petit Verdot completes the blend given.
Drinking Window 2025 - 2040

Score: 94Jane Anson,, April 2018

Made from the ‘classic blend’ because there was no frost here to force their hand, the balance from the start is exciting with dramatic tones of slightly exotic fruit tempered with steely acidity. The tension and the quality of the fruit is stunning. The mid-palate is not rich or fat and yet the depth of flavour is lovely. They didn’t over-extract here and this was key to the soft core of fruit which lends this wine some serious class.

Score: 18+Matthew Jukes, Matthew Jukes' Blog, April 2018

Please note that these tasting notes/scores are not intended to be exhaustive and in some cases they may not be the most recently published figures. However, we always do our best to add latest scores and reviews when these come to our attention. We advise customers who wish to purchase wines based simply on critical reviews to carry out further research into the latest reports.