Being interested in nature entails considering the world with humility. It is about harvesting the best fruit without depleting the soil, and adopting a long-term, sustainable approach.
Over the past thirty years, we have honed our own Bio-Precision philosophy with the aim of combining traditional and innovative techniques in the vineyard and cellar.
Our complex wines are a reflection of our precious terroir, and our increasing commitments.
We are now certified organic and our wines have gained greater purity and intensity.
We can realistically say that we stand in the heart of nature, and we take all possible measures to preserve it.
Our vineyards have expanded over time to reach 80 hectares in a single block. The owners and technical director live at opposite ends of the estate, which benefits from round-the-clock monitoring, ensuring responsive action in case of poor weather.
In this ocean of vines, we grow seven red and white grape varieties, which we blend to create Château Smith Haut Lafitte wines.
The estate owes its reputation as “the quintessential Graves” to both the smoky notes of its wines and its hilly terroir (Laffite or Lafite in old French), consisting of semi-precious and river stones deposited by the Garonne millions of years ago.
Composed of Günz gravel, Smith Haut Lafitte’s terroir boasts two astonishing features: superb natural drainage forcing the vine roots to sink deep to extract water and mineral salts over six metres below the surface, and a “mirror effect” reflecting the sun’s rays on the gravelly soil for optimum ripening.
Underneath our precious soil lies a parallel universe home to a wealth of microbial life that gives our first wine its distinctive identity. For this reason, we have continuously strengthened our environmental commitments since purchasing Smith Haut Lafitte.
In 2019 we obtained Organic agriculture certification following a three-year conversion. We have also applied many biodynamic practices for nearly 10 years, and are still amazed at the benefits of medicinal herbs in preventing vine diseases.
We grow our own herbs, including yarrow, horsetail and tansy, to make decoctions which we often spray onto the vines using horses.
The vineyards span a privileged location, surrounded by woodland, orchards and beehives, which in turn enhances biodiversity. We recently planted trees in the heart of the vineyards to extend this commitment to nature to our wines.
We also benefit from a protected, natural vine nursery on Ile de Lalande, where we grow our own rootstocks and thus preserve the unique identity of our grape varieties.
Alongside these traditional viticultural methods, we also use state-of-the-art technology: satellite images, drones, detailed soil surveys… an ever-growing array of tools help us monitor the ripeness of the grapes as closely as possible. We now harvest in small batches rather than on a plot-by-plot basis, depending on this precise data.
At Château Smith Haut Lafitte, a vat room using only gravity flow has been in operation since 2013 in order to keep the grapes intact.
Each facility is equipped with the latest technology.
The grapes are harvested by hand and then sorted on vibrating tables, followed by precise optical sorting using photographic analysis.
This ensures only ripe grapes of optimal quality are put into the truncated cone-shaped oak vats used for fermentation, keeping each batch separate.
Thanks to this precision and rigour, we create unique wines often recognised as some of the best in the world.
Our thousand-barrel underground cellar ages several red wine vintages.
Another cellar is reserved for white wines and both are a place of expression for the cellarmaster and their team, who monitor the symbiosis of the wine and oak for 12 to 18 months.
Meanwhile, the grapes used in the second wine blends, namely Le Petit Haut Lafitte and Les Hauts de Smith, are sent to our Chai Furtif (“Stealth Winery”), which takes its name from its location, almost hidden amongst nature.
Here, we implement the circular economy, a local and eco-friendly economic model.
Designed to limit its environmental impact, the winery runs on positive energy, particularly thanks to low consumption and the production of solar energy, rainwater recovery, a ground-coupled heat exchanger to cool the barrel cellars, etc.
In 2014, we also installed the world’s first system that recycles the CO2 produced during fermentation.
“Far from being built as an egotistical show of power, the Chai Furtif, which is entirely dedicated to Château Smith Haut Lafitte’s young vines, is a cellar in keeping with the times: discreet and technical, eco-friendly and effective.”
In 1993, Daniel Cathiard decided to hire a master cooper, and consequently, almost all of the estate’s barrels are now made in-house.
We know all too well that the symbiosis between oak and wine is essential, and we wanted to be one of the few estates to master this craftsmanship.
Our decision to preserve rare know-how was recognised by the “Living Heritage Company” label.
We select oak from the best French forests depending on their origin and the finesse of the grains. Their medium tannins are adapted to our wines, and thirty years of experience have taught us how to instil our wines with the elegant aromas they have become famous for.
We opened up our cooperage to visitors, because we believe it is essential to share such traditional Bordeaux expertise and meticulous efforts with others.