Château Smith Haut Lafitte white 2012 offers a bright, vibrant pale yellow colour with green hue. The first nose, quite discreet, offers delicate notes of white fruits and flowers. Through aeration the nose open up to become very expressive, complex, rich with an explosion of yellow fruits, peach, apricot, mango, citrus fruits (grapefruit), sweet spices, star anise and even a hint of caramel. This nose, both mature and refreshing, reflects perfectly the good weather conditions at the end of grape maturation. On the palate, the subtle balance between acidity freshness and fruit maturity appears clearly to give the wine a harmony of ripeness, richness, tension and vivacity. The attack is tense, then the mouth enlarges to become dense, more unctuous with a sense of fatness.
Each Château has its own style. What would be, according to you, the specificities of Château Smith Haut Lafitte White?
About our style, I would say that either you love our wines or you hate them. But be careful, if you do love them, it is for life… Our style is quite special, even paradoxical.
We have 90% of Sauvignon Blanc in our blend, however this proportion is almost unidentifiable on a blind tasting because of the age of our vines, the slopes ploughed by horses for more than 14 years on which they grow, the north exposure and all these details producing late maturity that will give our wines expression and complexity.
We also have a secret weapon: 5% of Sauvignon Gris. This forgotten yet complex grape variety brings different levels of aromas: first grapefruit, then peach, apricot and flowers, and a fresh minerality at the end. This kind of grape variety helps as well the wine age beautifully, adding spicy notes on the finish.
Which vintage of your Château white wine do you prefer?
This question is indeed very difficult... We often think that the latest babies are the best... If you ask my husband Daniel, he will choose 2010 and 2011, sharp as diamonds, of great precision, with high levels of acidity and freshness, very pure fruits, faithful to our terroir of Günzian Gravel... If you ask me, I prefer 2000, 2005 and 2009, because these vintages have a rare structure with great density and roundness in the palate. On blind tastings, almost nobody can recognize its 90% of Sauvignon Blanc. I find very interesting to compare our Château Smith Haut Lafitte white with a carafe of Bâtard-Montrachet of the same vintage for instance. The 2009 is very promising; it has a lot of everything and nothing of excess…
It seems your 2011 white is fantastic. Could you tell us more on that wine?
Nice acidity, low yields
2011 was an early vintage, and picking of Sauvignon Blanc grapes began on August the 18th, one of the earliest date in the estate's history. The first plot to be harvested was also the first in 2010. The degree of ripeness was similar to 2010, with a slightly lower sugar concentration but higher acidity, and superb balance.
The grapes, harvested through successive picking waves (passages), confirmed our first impressions with very well-balanced juice, good acidity and aromatic freshness, featuring white flowers, white peaches and linden blossom among other aromas. The concern about heaviness and low acidity that we had when it was so hot in June dissipated completely as the grapes ripened under the cool conditions that prevailed later in the summer, thus retaining all the freshness we appreciated in the must.
The climatology with temper of this vintage gave white wines a crystal-clear profile, combining aromatic complexity and tension, for a very pure expression of the terroir: an exceptional vintage!
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