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Château Smith Haut-Lafitte

★★ Guide des Meilleurs Vins de France - Notation DOMAINE 2024 Élu Vigneron de l'Année - Guide Hachette
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After careers as skiers, the Cathiard family bought the Smith Haut Lafitte estate in 1990, a real jewel whose name has been one of the most emblematic of Bordeaux wines for several centuries. Driven by the desire to produce one of the best wines in the world and aware of the richness of their Pessac-Léognan terroir, the owners combine ancestral methods (manual harvesting,... Read more

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Salle de dégustation du Château Smith Haut Lafitte

Authentic and modern château

Discover Château Smith Haut-Lafitte, one of the oldest and most avant-garde estates in Bordeaux.

A little bit of history

The origins of the estate go back to the 14th century with the Maison de Verrier Du Boscq who planted vines on a gravelly plateau named Lafitte as early as 1365. In 1720, it was bought by the Scotsman Georges Smith who added his name to the place and built the estate's manor house.

The company Louis Eschenauer bought the estate in 1958, having distributed the wine since the beginning of the 20th century. In 1990, Daniel Cathiard bought Smith Haut Lafitte and embarked on an investment programme, including the construction of a new cellar.

Concerning the production

The production of the first growth Château Smith Haut-Lafitte represents an annual volume of 10,000 cases of red wine and 2,500 cases of dry white. The second wine, Les Hauts de Smith, with a production of 5,500 cases, exists in red, white and rosé. The rosé is produced in Bordeaux AOC. There is an alternative second wine called Le Petit Haut Lafitte produced exclusively as a red wine with a higher blend of Cabernet - this second wine is gaining in popularity.

The vineyard covers 67 hectares, of which 56 hectares are planted with black varieties, 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. The remaining 11 hectares are planted with white varieties, 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon and 5% Sauvignon Gris.

Average age of the vines: 30 years
Ageing potential: Within 5 to 15 years depending on the vintage

The Pessac-Léognan AOC, a privileged terroir

Although the exceptional quality of the complex, tannic and racy red wines and the dry, full-bodied white wines in this region has been expressed for centuries, the Pessac-Léognan appellation was only signed in 1987. This recognition is relatively late for this terroir which offers undeniable assets:

  • Geologically: The hilly terrain covered with "Gunzian" gravel favours the natural drainage of the soil and contributes to the ripening and development of the grapes through a mirror effect of the sun.
  • Climatically: To the east, the Garonne river reduces frost and to the west the forest cuts the winds and retains the humidity.
  • Humanly: Strong awareness among winegrowers of the great potential of their terroir and a certain dynamism for its development.
Château Smith Haut-Lafitte

A Grand Cru Classé from Graves 

The estate owes its name to one of its former owners, George Smith, who in the 18th century was involved in exporting the already renowned wine to his home country.

So when Daniel Cathiard and his wife bought the estate in 1990, they saw themselves as owners of a real jewel, whose name has been emblematic of Bordeaux wines for several centuries. Driven by the desire to produce one of the best wines in the world, and aware of the richness of their terroir, the owners did not hesitate to return to ancestral methods by promoting manual harvesting, making their own compost, ploughing with a horse, completely eliminating herbicides, setting up a cooperage, etc.

But the Cathiard family is also turning to new technologies and is one of the few winegrowing families to use the "œnoview" process, a satellite designed to observe and monitor the ripening of the grapes and optimise the harvest. Using image processing technology, the satellite analyses the vineyard with a resolution of 2 m² per pixel. The stage of development of the vine's plant cover is analysed in all sectors of the same plot to define the oenological maturity of the grapes to the nearest vine row.

These homogeneous zones mapped by infrared make it possible to identify the vines ready to be harvested, because even by tasting them, we realise that the stage of ripening of the grapes is never the same from one vine to another. This new satellite technology therefore allows to achieve optimum quality. Precise and precious information to better estimate the potential of the plots.

Other gems of innovation: the Winery technology, which vibrates the bunches to release the grapes without fragmenting the stalks; or the Vistalys precision optical sorting system, which since 2008 has been sorting the grapes after photographing them according to precise parameters. A meticulousness worthy of the greatest wines!

Vignoble Smith Haut-Lafitte

Nature, a requirement that has become a Leitmotif

For 25 years, Florence and Daniel Cathiard have placed environmental concerns at the heart of their work.

This approach, called "Bio-Precision", was also praised at the COP21. The aim is to combine innovative viticulture and vinification techniques with the utmost respect for the living world.

To guarantee the balance of the ecosystem of the vineyard, the respect of the soil and the vines, the estate uses biodynamic farming methods: an organic fight which bans all chemical inputs, the manufacture of organic compost is made from the prunings of the vine, the grape marc and the manure of cows and horses. Biodiversity is encouraged by the planting of hedges, natural grassing of the soil and the installation of beehives to allow for the diversity of fauna. These practices are combined with ancestral methods: manual harvesting and even ploughing with horses.

Promoting biodiversity also means maintaining the genetic diversity of the vines and therefore the complexity of the wines. The estate has its own nursery on the island of La Lande, an enclosed and protected ecosystem surrounded by the Garonne. This is where the mother vines of the rootstocks are selected.

But the commitment does not stop there: solar energy, green roofing of the cellar of young vines, water recycling, the desire to promote the benefits of the vine for the body... Mathilde, their daughter, and her husband Bertrand, are not to be outdone in terms of innovation and have been developing the extraordinary antioxidant power of vine and grape polyphenols for more than 10 years, creating the famous Caudalie® cosmetics brand on the estate, and then, in front of the château, the first Vinothérapie® spa

It is a large-scale project. This is why, of all the wine estates in the world, Château Smith Haut-Lafitte was the only one to be represented at COP 21.

A sustainable viticulture and a concern for transparency that do not leave amateurs of great wines indifferent.

Vinothérapie Caudalie Smith Haut-Lafitte

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