CHATEAU SMITH HAUT LAFITTE Rouge, Pessac 2020 Wooden Case x 3 Bottles - PRE-RELEASE
Red Still Wine | France | Bordeaux | Graves/Pessac-Léognan | 75cl
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Closure Type: Cork
Wine Style: Full Bodied
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot
We are very pleased to announce the start of the highly anticipated 2020 Bordeaux En-Primeur campaign, one which promises to be as exciting as it is different in our new post-brexit, mid-covid world.
Not having had the chance to travel to Bordeaux to taste we are very reliant on several key factors namely; pedigree, reputation, consistency and critics and the critics seem to like it.
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.
THE WINE ADVOCATE (98 - 100) points
Drink Date: 2028 - 2068
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, 20th May 2021
"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.
“The first part of the year was aquatic,” commented Winemaker Fabien Teitgen. “The vines began to grow very early, on March 8th. But after we had good flowering. There was some mildew, but there was not too much damage. Because we are organic and biodynamic, we can only use very little copper mixed with plant infusions. This is the phytotherapy part of biodynamics. We try lots of things and we keep what works. When you are certified, you have to work very fast, even on Saturday and Sunday. Our workers live close by and are very dedicated.
"We were not so much impacted by the drought. It’s true, the summer was very dry. But the first part of the year gave water to store in our deep clays. The second part of the year was very sunny and warm. Even where our clay is five to six meters down, this gave us the ability to continue the ripening process. We have an early terroir with this storage of water. We ended harvest before the end of September.
"The Cabernet berries were very small—we would have liked to have had a little more juice. By the time we were picking the Cabernet, the rains came. There was no bursting (of berries) for us. The timing of the water was good. Then, we had to be very careful with the extraction—there was a lot of tannin. So, we did much less pigéage. There is no press wine in the blend this year.
"It was really a great pleasure to do this vintage. The grapes were very expressive straightaway of the wines. The aromas in the winery were incredible.”
It is clear from tasting the range of wines from Smith Haut Lafitte that they were indeed situated in a sweet-spot location and possessing just the right sort of terroir to hit the absolute heights of greatness this vintage has to offer, with all the hurdles skillfully managed by Teitgen and his team. These wines are truly breathtaking. Bravo!"
JAMES SUCKLING 99-100 Points
26 Apr, 2021 – "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."
DECANTER 97 points
Tasted by Jane Anson (at Primeur week tastings in Bordeaux, 01 May 2021)
Part of Best Pessac-Léognan 2020 wines tasted en primeur
"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. Drinking Window 2030 - 2050."
JANCIS ROBINSON 17+ points
Drink: 2030 - 2050
Cask sample. "After a reasonably restrained nose, there is beautifully pure cassis fruit that really lingers on the palate. Rarely for 2020, this is a wine that clearly needs time to bring more expression to the nose. It's all there on the palate, but entirely nascent. A long-haul wine."
Terms and Conditions:
Delivery - Autumn 2023
Prices - Include Freight, Duty & GST. No further discounts apply
Storage - Free of Charge until 30th April 2024
Allocation - On a first-come-first-served basis.
Payment - As per our normal T&Cs.
E&OE - Errors & Omissions Excepted