2020 Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux

2020 Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux

Product: 20208011879
 
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2020 Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux

Description

Cabernet Sauvignon 65%, Merlot 30%, Cabernet Franc 4%, Petit Verdot 1%

Certified organic since 2019, the estate is now farmed 75% biodynamically; full conversion is expected in the next 12 months. These, and the estate’s other environmental commitments, contribute to the château’s supple and expressive style. There is no sense of the year’s heat; the fresh aromas and flavours are of blueberry, Victoria plum and sloe. The palate is silky smooth across very precise tannins. This is a moreish, eloquent and confident wine. Technical director Fabien Teitgen considers it probably the best of the last three vintages.

Drink 2025-2038

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Critics reviews

Jane Anson97/100
Antonio Galloni, Vinous95-97/100
Neal Martin, Vinous95-97/100
Wine Advocate98-100/100
Jancis Robinson MW17+/20
James Suckling99-100/100
Jeb Dunnuck97-100/100
Michael Schuster93-94/100
Jane Anson97/100
Powerful on the attack, dense and concentrated at first then brighter on the retro-olfaction with layers of spice, liquorice and flowers. Intense but beautifully precise, with iris and peony aromatics coming in strongly as it opens in the glass. A ton of nuance and complexity, really takes its time, delivering a masterclass in restrained Pessac glamour. Average yields 30hl/ha for the reds. 1% Petit Verdot completes the blend. 60% new oak. Harvest started on September 9 - 30.

Drink from 2030 to 2050

Jane Anson, Decanter (April 2021) Read more
Antonio Galloni, Vinous95-97/100
The 2020 Smith Haut Lafitte is a thrilling wine of grandeur and spellbinding beauty. The aromatics literally soar out of the glass, perhaps driven by a touch more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. A vertical, explosive wine, the 2020 possesses tremendous energy. It is a rapturous wine that will delight readers for years to come. A move towards gentler extractions, with less oak impact, allows the purity of the fruit to come through loud and clear. Inky dark cherry, plum, mocha, dried herbs and lavender are all amplified in the 2020, but what I admire most is a total sense of harmony. I can't wait to see how it ages, as evolution has at times been the sole Achilles heel here.

Drink from 2028 to 2045

Antonio Galloni, Vinous (June 2021) Read more
Neal Martin, Vinous95-97/100
The 2020 Smith Haut Lafitte was picked from September 9, the yields 20% down on average due to the dry summer period, and matured in 60% new oak with no vin de presse. This actually blossomed after an hour’s opening, revealing exquisite blackberry, briar, crushed rock and light rose petal scents, very nuanced considering the growing season and the 14.5° alcohol. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins and a very fine line of acidity that keeps this on its tippy-toes. Disarmingly pure, its silky texture is very appealing, likewise the veering toward more red berry fruit lacked with white pepper toward the finish. This may well surpass the previous two vintages. An outstanding effort from winemaker Fabien Teitgen and his team.

Drink from 2025 to 2055

Neal Martin, Vinous (May 2021) Read more
Wine Advocate98-100/100
A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot aging in 60% new barriques, the very deep purple-black colored 2020 Smith Haut Lafitte makes an impactful entrance, opening with flamboyant notes of blackcurrant pastilles, chocolate-covered cherries and molten licorice, leading to nuances of ground cloves, woodsmoke, crushed rocks and dusty soil. The medium to full-bodied palate bursts with opulent black fruit preserves and shimmering mineral sparks, framed by exquisitely ripe and fantastically firm tannins and seamless freshness, finishing with epically long-lasting earthy and savory layers. This is the singular voice of Smith Haut Lafitte at its finest, and wow-oh-wow is it worth a listen. This 2020 has an alcohol of 14.5% with a pH of 3.65. The tannins this year were a little higher than 2018 and 2019. A little less than a third of production went into this grand vin.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (May 2021) Read more
Jancis Robinson MW17+/20
Cask sample taken 22 April. Harvest started as early as 9 September until 30 September. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. 60% new barriques. Pioneer of biodynamics and sustainability in Bordeaux. Mid crimson. Nuanced, complex nose suggests masses of ripeness and intense aromas. Interesting dried-bay-leaves note on the nose followed by some slight leafiness. Rich, polished palate – structured juiciness. Then pretty dry on the finish – not quite as luscious on the palate as the nose suggests. Masses of sandy-textured tannins on the finish. Will need lots of time.

Drink 2029 - 2045

Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com (April 2021) Read more
James Suckling99-100/100
So much blackcurrant, graphite and iodine character. Full-bodied. Incredible quality to the tannins. They are polished yet powerful. It’s so long and complete with such depth and toned muscles. Vertical. Very fresh and energetic. Will it be better than the famous 2015? Maybe the best ever. From organically grown grapes. 65% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.

James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (April 2021) Read more
Jeb Dunnuck97-100/100
Possibly ranking with the top two or three wines of the vintage, the 2020 Smith Haut Lafitte is a blockbuster that reminds me of a hypothetical mix of the 2009 and 2010. Based on a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, its dense purple hue is followed by a monster bouquet of ripe black fruits, scorched earth, charcoal, and graphite. All of these carry to a full-bodied Pessac-Léognan with flawless balance, loads of ripe, polished tannins, a dense mid-palate, and a great, great finish. It’s one of the gems in the vintage and should be snatched up by readers. Give bottles just 4-6 years in the cellar, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following 20-30 years.

Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com (May 2021) Read more
Michael Schuster93-94/100
Crisply red and blackcurrant ripe; elegant and beautifully contained within its large scale, wears its alcohol with great ease. Long, refined, and complex, aromatic, elegant, complete, and impressive, a beautiful performance. And remains very Graves in its gravelly, minerally character. A sort of finer 2010? Lovely.

Drink 2028 - 2040

Michael Schuster, The World of Fine Wine (May 2021) Read more

About this WINE

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

Château Smith-Haut-Lafite has been transformed during the last decade from being a perennial underachiever to being one of the leading estates in the Graves region.

For many years it was owned by the Bordeaux négociant Eschenauer - in 1990 it was bought by former Olympic skiing champion, Daniel Cathiard. He cut down on the amount of chemicals and herbicides used in the vineyards, and fully modernised the winemaking facilities. The proportion of new oak barrels used in the maturation process was increased and a trio of eminent oenologists (including the ubiquitous Michel Rolland) were hired as consultants.

The 55 hectares of vineyards are located on a gravel ridge to the east of Château Haut-Bailly. The red wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Merlot (35%) and Cabernet Franc (10%). The grapes are fermented in stainless steel vats and the wine is then matured in oak barrels (50% new) for 15-18 months. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

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Pessac-Leognan

Pessac-Leognan

In 1986 a new communal district was created within Graves, in Bordeaux,  based on the districts of Pessac and Léognan, the first of which lies within the suburbs of the city. Essentially this came about through pressure from Pessac-Léognan vignerons, who wished to disassociate themselves from growers with predominately sandy soils further south in Graves.

Pessac-Léognan has the best soils of the region, very similar to those of the Médoc, although the depth of gravel is more variable, and contains all the classed growths of the region. Some of its great names, including Ch. Haut-Brion, even sit serenely and resolutely in Bordeaux's southern urban sprawl.

The climate is milder than to the north of the city and the harvest can occur up to two weeks earlier. This gives the best wines a heady, rich and almost savoury character, laced with notes of tobacco, spice and leather. Further south, the soil is sandier with more clay, and the wines are lighter, fruity and suitable for earlier drinking.

Recommended Châteaux: Ch. Haut-Brion, Ch. la Mission Haut-Brion, Ch. Pape Clément, Ch Haut-Bailly, Domaine de Chevalier, Ch. Larrivet-Haut-Brion, Ch. Carmes Haut-Brion, Ch. La Garde, Villa Bel-Air.

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Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.

In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and  Australia.

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