Composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot aging in 60% new barriques, the very deep purple-black colored 2018 Smith Haut Lafitte is a little shy to begin. With coaxing, it very slowly unfurls to reveal a heart-stopping perfume of violets, red roses, kirsch, black cherries and redcurrant jelly, before giving way to a profound core of warm blackcurrants, blackberry preserves, molten licorice and cinnamon stick with nuances of dried mint, orange blossoms (yes!) and cloves. Full-bodied, the fruit does veritable pirouettes on your palate, both elegant and powerful in its expression, coating the mouth with densely packed red and black fruits while revealing tons of mineral, floral and savory sparks, framed by exquisitely fine-grained tannins and bold freshness, finishing very long.
“2018 was quite a difficult year because of the wetness, wetness, wetness,” Smith Haut Lafitte’s winemaker Fabien Teitgen sighed. “We are organic growers, so we lost a bit to mildew. May to mid-June, it was very depressing. But the abrupt change in the weather was amazing. The very dry, sunny conditions gave fantastic evolution of the grapes. The berries were very fresh and fruity with thick skins."
"We are very focused on the sorting," Teitgen continued. "We pick by hand, do an initial sorting using a vibrating table and then finish the sorting by hand. There was more work to be done on sorting the Merlot. We used no stems this year. We had enough tannin in the skins this year, so we didn’t use the stems. Then, we had to take great care with the extraction. We just focused on extracting the round tannins, none of the harsh tannins. We had to stop fermentation as soon as we detected any bitterness.”
Average yields for the vintage were 21 hectoliters per hectare for the reds and 28 hectoliters per hectare for the whites. Tiny quantities, but the wines—and the grand vin in particular—are simply stunning.
This is incredibly complex with hazelnut, currant, berry and driedflower character. The impression of a vat of fermenting cabernet. Full body, round and juicy tannins and a long, soft and silky finish. Shows the essence of the fruit here. Fascinating. Layered and complex.
There is a luxurious, languorous feel right from the very first nose here, which continues step for step all the way through the palate. It's a highly impressive wine with an amazing texture - something that is starting to mark Smith Haut Lafitte out every year. Notes of dark chocolate, black cherry and liquorice stretch out through the rich palate, displaying tension and texture.
2% Petit Verdot completes the blend. Harvested 18 September to 10 October. 60% new oak.
Drinking Window 2027 - 2042