These vineyards have expanded over time to reach 80 hectares in a single block. The owners and technical director live at opposite ends of the estate, which benefits from round-the-clock monitoring, ensuring responsive action in case of poor weather. In this ocean of vines, seven red and white grape varieties are grown and blended to create Château Smith Haut Lafitte wines.
The estate owes its reputation as “the quintessential Graves” to both the smoky notes of its wines and its hilly terroir (Laffite or Lafite in old French), consisting of semi-precious and river stones deposited by the Garonne millions of years ago. Composed of Günz gravel, Smith Haut Lafitte’s terroir boasts two astonishing features: superb natural drainage forcing the vine roots to sink deep to extract water and mineral salts over six metres below the surface, and a “mirror effect” reflecting the sun’s rays on the gravelly soil for optimum ripening.
The opaque bluish-purple 2012 Smith Haut Lafite offers up notes of licorice, graphite, blueberry and blackberry fruit, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, stunningly ripe, velvety tannins and a long, long finish. This is another sensational effort from the Cathiards that is perfectly balanced, complex, super-rich and pure. Drink it over the next 20-25 years. [95 Points, Robert M. Parker, Jr.– April 2015, robertparker.com]