It was great to see SHL Technical director Fabien Teitgen, and owners Florence and Daniel Cathiard at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte last Wednesday at the Chateau for the tasting of wines from Graves and Pessac-Leognan. I always taste “blind” (meaning that this group does not know what they are tasting until a sheet of wine, keyed with the wines number, is given to us at the end of the tasting.
It was good to see that Smith Haut Lafitte was among my very top favorites. According to Fabien Teitgen, there were several reasons for the Chateau’s success in a difficult vintage: the terroir (gunzian gravel, warm and well drained) that limits extreme hydric stress. This combined allows the roots to dig deep in the soil and better resist bad weather.
Fabien also says that two grape reception area lines at SHL, and the new vat room along with over 200 harvesters enabled them to harvest extremely fast as soon as maturity had been reached.
Technical precision is another key point according to Fabien. The plots were divided up according to levels of grape maturity. The monitoring of vine leaves development with satellite imagery allowed the chateau to individually vinify different “terroir entities” in small wooden vats at the SHL new vat room, which Florence showed me en route to lunch. As you can see, very glitzy!