Monday, 19 October 2009

Smith Haut Lafitte

Snuck away from work this afternoon to attend a tasting of Smith Haut Lafitte's wines over at the Bibendum head quarters. Both Florence and Daniel Cathiard, SHL's charming proprietors we're present though it was the effervescent Florence who did most of the chatting.
Smith Haut Lafitte is in Pessac Leognan, pretty much in the outskirts of Bordeaux, they've got excellent Gunzian gravel terroir and in the Cathiards, owners with the ambition to raise their estate into the top tier of Bordeaux wines.
Well, I ought to recant that, SHL blanc is already one of the top 3 white wines produced in the region, and up there with the best whites that France produces, age worthy and complex.
SHL blanc 06 (90% Sauv Blanc, 5% Semillon and 5% Sauvignon Gris).
Creamy delicate Peach/Apricot fruit, some white flowers and a touch of some sweet herbs. On the palette it demonstrates how to do power with sublime creamy elegance, minerally but not austere and in possession of a wonderfully long finish.
(I might be able to find my notes on other vintages, more later...)
The red wine is classic Graves, almost always showing the flintiness that supposedly marks out the wines, and almost always displaying an enviable elegance.
Earlier in the year the 08 was one of my favorites of the 08's showing lovely weight, some fragrant blackcurrant fruit and just a touch of gravelliness.
03 - from the heatwave vintage is flinty, toasty and shows lots of shaved graphite pencil aromas, dark fruit (though still a bit fresh, no raisiny notes here), and the beginnings of secondary characters, a bit of tobacco a bit of forest floor. Though quite tannic there is a muscular brooding quality to the wine, and an almost haemoglobin like ironiness. The finish then starts to exhibit the cream and licorice notes that I expect to develop as it ages.
02 - a restaurant vintage, this was lighter, and the freshest of the three we tasted. A spot of farmyardy, flinty and undergrowth infused red currant fruit opens the nose, then, a rather gravelly palette leads on. The lightest of the SHL vintages on show, but it rather grew on me as we tasted the others.
00 - wine of the day, complex medocienne red berried fruit notes, lots of flinty gravel, some cedar wood/tobacco, a woody forest undergrowth character. This was a wine hitting it's drinking peak. Still with ripe red fruits, the tannins taking on an almost silken quality, but still very much in evidence, and a perfumed haunting sort of finish.
Once again, I really like SHL, and a great little primer for the Union de Grand Cru de Bordeaux 2007 tasting tomorrow.

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