Le Petit Haut Lafitte 2017
• Domaine: Château Smith Haut Lafitte
• Appellation: Pessac-Léognan
• Classification: Second Wine, Grand Vin de Graves
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
Le Petit Haut Lafitte is a second wine produced by Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, a renowned winery located in the Pessac-Léognan appellation of Bordeaux, France. The estate has a long history dating back to the 14th century and is currently owned by the Cathiard family. The stunning wines from this estate captivate many a drinker and critic alike. It is one of the few properties within the Left Bank that produces both red, white, and rosé wines of excellent quality. The Second Wine, Le Petit Haut Lafitte 2018 is an excellent and beautifully integrated example of their winemaking – a perfect choice for those waiting for their bottle of grand vin to come around.
Château Smith Haut Lafitte hosts a long history in Bordeaux that dates back over 800 years. The property was initially a part of the Du Bosq holdings in the Graves region. The Du Bosqs were the first to plant vines in 1365 in the heavily graveled Lafitte plateau. The property was purchased in 1720 by a man named George Smith, who added his name to the property and that is how Château Smith Haut Lafitte received its name. Château Smith Haut Lafitte is presently owned by Daniel and Florence Cathiard. The Cathiards purchased Château Smith Haut Lafitte in 1990, which is when the true story of this estate begins.
Prior to the Cathiards' involvement, Château Smith Haut Lafitte was not a well-known wine producer. The Cathiards purchased Château Smith Haut Lafitte because they were intrigued by the fact the vineyard was capable of producing both red and white wines. They made a series of changes and stopped the use of mechanical harvesting. They made changes to the sorting process, implementing two sorting passes to make sure only the choicest fruit gets selected for the grand vin. The Cathiards also invested a significant amount of funding in building their own cooperage, which allowed them to produce 70% of their own barrels. They shifted farming practices towards sustainability, and the property is now considered a leader in that respect. As of 2020, they received a Robert Parker Green Emblem for sustainable viticultural practices. A mixture of tradition and technological innovation governs the winemaking practices at Château Smith Haut Lafitte. It is one of the first properties to use Oenoview satellite imagery to find the optimum time to begin harvest in addition to using optical sorting technology.
The sprawling 78 hectare vineyard is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. For white varietals, a mixture of Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Semillon thrive in these vineyards. The vines are an average of 35 years old, and they are diligently tended to by the team. A lot of biodynamic techniques are implemented here to achieve perfection in the vineyard. The Cathiards have made the decision to hire Michel Rolland and Stephane Derenoncourt as consultants who guide the vinification process in the state-of-the-art gravity flow cellars. There is plenty of experimentation in the vat room, and this results in a dynamic and complex wine. Le Petit Haut Lafitte has the perfect mixture of finesse and aging potential, making it an excellent offering from Pessac-Léognan.
Le Petit Haut Lafitte is made from younger vines and selected parcels from the same vineyards as the Grand Vin, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 12 to 14 months, with around 40% new oak.
The wine is known for its elegant style, with aromas of black fruits, cassis, and subtle notes of vanilla and toast from the oak. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, with a smooth texture and fine tannins. The flavors are a blend of black and red fruits, with hints of spice and tobacco. The finish is long and persistent, with a good balance between fruit and oak.
"Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2017 Le Petit Haut Lafitte delivers a slightly broody nose of tar, new leather and truffles over an emerging core of warm plums, mulberries and boysenberries with a touch of anise. Medium-bodied, the palate offers loads of black cherries and savory hints with a plush frame and earthy finish." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate, Ratings: 90, Drink: 2018-2028
"More serious, the 2017 Le Petit Haut Lafitte is a more Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated effort (60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot). It’s made to be a more ageworthy, structured wine, and it succeeds beautifully in the vintage, offering classic Smith Haut Lafitte-like notes of cassis, unsmoked tobacco, violets, and earthiness. Medium to full-bodied and nicely textured, it has the straight, focused style of the vintage and will benefit from 3-4 years of bottle age and keep for over a decade." - Jeb Dunnuck, Jebdunnuck.com, Rating: 90+, Drink: 2023--2034
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