A private tasting of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte was organised in a cellar on 6 September Tuesday evening, with the honour of Ludovic Fradin, the Commercial Director of the Chateau, who was coming to Finland for the first time to conduct the tasting. A group of wine experts and enthusiasts were invited to participate in this wonderful evening.
The tasting started with Ludovic giving a presentation to the audience regarding to the history and background of the Chateau, production and terroir of the wines, and of course information about Bordeaux was also included. One thing to notice that Smith Haut Lafitte has started to use drones, a more advanced technology, for harvest this year. A drone takes pictures of different plots to reflect the ripeness and maturity of the vines. By combining the experiences of vineyard managers and winemaker for regular checking in the plots, this optimise the accuracy of the grape picking and make sure the grapes were (and will be picked) at the optimal ripeness. The first harvest day for white grapes (young vines) started on 5 Sep 2016.
Apart from the use of drones, Ludovic explained a lot about the environmentally friendliness that Smith Haut Lafitte is working hard on. Bio-Precision and circular economy for energy recycling were developed within the Chateau. Smith Haut Lafitte has abandoned the use of chemical products for viticulture and of course horses are used for ploughing. The Chateau produces their own young vines certified by vine nursery national. They also produce their own rootstocks in the La Lande island where the mother vines were planted. La Lande Island is a protected and closed environment on the Garonne river, ten minutes away from the Chateau. With all these innovations and Bio-Precision, the genetic diversity of the vine is preserved and so as to improve the complexity of wines. Besides, Smith Haut Lafitte does also care about the environment during the wine making processes. Therefore they have developed energy recycling system inside the Chateau:
- Making use of photovoltaic panels to generate energy
- Collection and retention system for rainwater, water and waste treatment to eliminate risks of accidental pollution
- Owning the first device in the world able to recycle CO2 released during wines fermentation, transforming the CO2 into sodium bicarbonate for other products uses
(Picture Source: Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte)
To start the evening, the first flight was with 3 white wines: 2014 Le Petit Haut Lafitte, 2013 Grand Vin Smith Haut Lafitte & 2012 Grand Vin Smith Haut Lafitte. Ludovic explained to participants on the style of the vintages being tasted and had more in-depth discussion on the production with the participants. White wines were paired with various Nordic style fingerfood prepared by young and talented chef who had been working in a couple of One-starred Michelin restaurants in Finland, Juho Ekegren.
- Juniper cured salmon
- Lemon flavoured Perch and pickled cucumber
- Marinated and pickled season vegetables
- Rice crackers in various flavour: with vinegar and with mushrooms
- Sour cream dip and spring onion mayonnaise to go with both the crackers and vegetables
2014 Le Petit Haut Lafitte Blanc (80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon)
Creamy, green apple, green pear, gooseberry, touch of grass, yogurt and peach. Medium acidity, medium body, medium length and the style was fruitier than expected. 89
2013 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc (90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris)
First came with roasty and oaky aroma, and then with lots of freshness and mineral. Medium intensity and mild, green apple, apple zest, gooseberry, grapefruit, a combination of grass and lime with a hint of flint. Medium body, medium to medium (+) acidity, medium length. It was performing a cooler climate style of Bordeaux white as 2013 was a pretty difficult year for both reds and whites. 91-92
2012 Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc (90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris)
Lots of fruit and complexity in both aroma and palate: peachy, orange peel, lemon zest, semi-ripe mango and a touch of floral. Round, creamy, honey and fruity style with a hint of mineral. Medium (+) body, medium (+) length, intense , medium (+) acidity. Very balance and nice integration of oak into the wine, that it would not be over-expressive or roasty. A harmony and lovely wine. It reflected clearly the warm weather characters of the vintage when comparing with 2013 vintage- a totally different style of white wines: crispy, mineral VS round and fruity. 94-95
After that, a video about the story of the Chateau was shown before going through the reds. Everyone first tasted the 2012 Le Petit Haut Lafitte Rouge to have the basic understanding of the style of red wines. Then the second flight started with 3 different Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge vintages tasted together, with second red served in blind. Participants had to try to guess the vintage from the performance of the wine. It was interesting to see the guessing of everyone as the wine was performing exceptional in spite of the comments of that vintage in general- there were guesses like 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, etc. As like in tasting the whites, Ludovic explained to everyone about the vintage, and there were lots of exchange of ideas between him and participants regarding to the different vintages, Chateau and the industry. Main course was served at the same time to pair with the wines.
- Iberico pork neck with miso glaze
- Roasted potatoes with pesto made from own garden greens
2012 Le Petit Haut Lafitte Rouge (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot)
Fresh, black fruit driven, black plum, blueberry, black cherry, hint of liquorice, hint of green bell pepper, capsicum, hint of blackcurrant leaves. Medium to medium (-) body, medium to medium (-) acidity with lot of freshness in the wine. Medium tannin and length. A easy drinking wine to drink young. 88-89
2011 Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot)
Earthy and roasty notes came at the beginning, black fruit appeared then. Intense and vibrant black pepper, blueberry, blackberry, liquorice. Hint of sweet spices and vanilla came at the back of the palate. Medium to medium (+) body, medium to medium (+) acidity, ripe tannin with considerable freshness and fineness. Medium-long length with lots of potential and on-going development. 93-94
2007 Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot)
A mix of fresh red and black fruit together with developing characters in the wine. Roasted coffee, cigar box, tobacco, hint of mushroom and wet forest. Notes of raspberry, red currant, sun dry tomato came at the back of the palate and nose. Medium body with lots of fine, silky tannin and persistent length. An elegant but successful wine in a difficult vintage and starting to be the peak for the readiness to drink. 92
2012 Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot)
Intense red fruit like raspberry, red berries, red plum at the beginning. Then turns to black plum with a hint of pencil sharpen, tobacco leaves, green bell pepper, some touches of herbaceous, black pepper, sweet spices. A bit sleeping at the beginning of tasting after almost 2 hours of breathing, yet it was open after extra 2 hours. Medium to full bodied with medium-long length, lots of fresh red fruit acidity, round and velvet tannin. It was more expressive after opening than 2011 vintage and comparatively more feminine. 93