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 2016 Les Hauts de Smith Rouge is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 60% Merlot from the younger vines of Smith Haut Lafitte. It is matured in 20% new oak. It has a straightforward but attractive bouquet with blackberry, brown spices and just a touch of vanilla from that oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, grainy tannin on the entry, plenty of black fruit tinged with leather and a slight ferrous scent. The acidity is nicely judged and it feels long and tender on the finish. Probably suitable for early drinking, as it is more approachable than others; nevertheless, it should drink well for several years. [88-90 Points, Neal Martin – April 2017, robertparker.com]