Chateau Smith Haut Lafite is a gorgeous estate in Graves, south of Bordeaux and this year they (literally) rolled the red carpet to kick off En Primeur 2011 and welcome fellow Bordelais and the 108 international journalists visiting for En Primeur.
The grand party also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Chateaux, as owners Daniel and Florence Cathiard bought what was then a neglected winery and brought it back to prosperity and health with numerous improvements in both the chateau and vineyard.
During En Primeur 2010, I was lucky to be their guest at the chateau for two days, where I met their passionate winemaker M. Teitgen and learned all about the soils in their various plots.
It was delightful to see them again, and taste the wines served that evening, which included Les Imperiales du Chateau Smith Haut Lafite 1990. Before the sit-down dinner, guests mingled in different areas of the winery to enjoy white wines from the Union des Grands Crus with oysters and a variety of other attractively presented appetizers.
Fabulous to see familiar faces — Fabrice Dubourdieu, Carla Capalbo, Becky Sue Epstein, Stephen Brook, Ian D’Agato — tout la monde.
I was seated at a table with my hosts from Chateau Nairac, the charming Nicole and her daughter Eloise. The cuisine, which was catered by Lacoste, featured “local” ingredients with a limit of sixty miles from the area.
A truly welcoming opening to what promises to be the best vintage yet.
I look forward to seeing Florence and Daniel again, perhaps in New York next week as their daughter Mathilde is hosting an event for their Cauldalie spa at the Plaza hotel