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2019 Le Petit Haut Lafitte

2019 Le Petit Haut Lafitte

94 DEC

Featured Review
(Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Le Petit Smith Haut Lafitte, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France, Red) Green bell pepper, eucalyptus, dark chocolate and perfumed cherries and blackcurrants on the nose - so much aromatic intensity. Immediate impact on the palate with weighty tannins that are ample and mouthcoating giving the softly sweet raspberry and red cherry flavours structure and grip. A juicy core is offset by hints of wood spice which linger on the finish so this needs more time but there is excellent vibrancy and life here and strong markers of the vintage and terroir. (Drink between 2026-2046) Decanter

Decanter | 94 DEC

Critic Reviews

The 2019 Le Petit Smith Haut Lafitte is fabulous. Rich, powerful and vibrant, Le Petit packs a serious punch. Readers will have a hard time keeping their hands off this jewel of a wine. Black cherry, plum, new leather, licorice, mocha and dried herbs build as this effusive, generous wine shows off its racy, alluring personality. I loved it.

Antonio Galloni | 94 AG
(Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Le Petit Smith Haut Lafitte, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France, Red) Green bell pepper, eucalyptus, dark chocolate and perfumed cherries and blackcurrants on the nose - so much aromatic intensity. Immediate impact on the palate with weighty tannins that are ample and mouthcoating giving the softly sweet raspberry and red cherry flavours structure and grip. A juicy core is offset by hints of wood spice which linger on the finish so this needs more time but there is excellent vibrancy and life here and strong markers of the vintage and terroir. (Drink between 2026-2046)

Decanter | 94 DEC
Spices, such as cloves and white pepper, with violets and dark fruit follow through to a full body with firm, chewy tannins and a polished yet intense finish. Open tannins. An ash-like undertone to it. Try after 2027.

James Suckling | 94 JS
The more Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated second wine, the 2019 Le Petit Haut Lafitte is dense purple. with a promising bouquet of cassis, cedary spice, tobacco leaf, and background oak. It picks up some classic Graves scorched earth notes as it sits in the glass and is medium to full-bodied, has a concentrated, layered, balanced mouthfeel, and a great finish. A serious, impressive wine, it will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and drink brilliantly over the following 10-15.

Jeb Dunnuck | 93 JD
Barrel Sample. As one of the two second wines from this organic estate, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates this wine. It has structured black currant fruits as well as a beautiful pure line of acidity. The structure, while there, is open and integrated, meaning the wine will age well over the medium-term.

Wine Enthusiast | 93 WE
Ripe and silky, with alluring warmed cassis and mulled plum flavors and a red licorice accent. The finish, which is carried by lightly singed cedar and grilled savory notes, lets the fruit have the upper hand. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2031. 6,000 cases made, 1,500 cases imported.

Wine Spectator | 91 WS
More serious than the forward Les Hauts de Smith, the 2019 Le Petit Haut Lafitte contains only 40% Merlot, with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon. Exhibiting aromas of crème de cassis, sweet berries, cocoa nib, pencil shavings and loamy soil, it’s medium to full-bodied, lively and concentrated, with a more structured, reserved profile but more incipient complexity too.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 90+ RP

Wine Details for 2019 Le Petit Haut Lafitte

Type of Wine Bordeaux Red : Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend : The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.

For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.

France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.

France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.

Subregion Pessac-Leognan


Producer Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte : In order for a wine to possess the perfect balance, there must be a symbiotic relationship between nature and human aptitude, between land and sky, vine and terroir. True passion and understanding for this synergetic nurturing of vine to take root and flourish in its natural ecosystem is utterly essential to its success. This magnificent exploit takes place in the vineyard, cellar, and natural landscape of the picturesque Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte.

Owners, Daniel and Florence Cathiard give praise for the balance in life. Their admission that everything comes from the soil speaks volumes to the operation under their control. After purchasing the Pessac-Leognan vineyard in 1990, Daniel and Florence Cathiard vowed to perpetuate its tradition of excellence. Their philosophy is “…to do everything possible to make each vintage of red and white wine worthy of our magnificent terroir.” They have been able to accomplish this incredible feat by considering the world with humility, by harvesting the best fruit without depleting the soil and adopting a long-term, sustainable approach. The complexity of their wines are a reflection of the precious terroir and their increased commitment to that balance of life; allowing nature to shine with minimal human nurturing.

The hilly terroir of semi-precious and river stones deposited by the Garonne millions of years ago lends to the estates reputation as “the quintessential Graves.” The natural terrain allows optimal drainage of their precious soil, forcing the vine roots to sink deep to extract water and mineral salts while the gravelly soil creates a “mirror effect” reflecting the sun’s rays promoting optimum ripening. This spectacular occurrence breathes life into the wines of Smith Haut Lafitte.

Over the past thirty years, this organic certified estate has relied upon its own Bio-Precision philosophy with the aim of combining traditional and innovative techniques in the vineyard and cellar. The vineyards span a privileged location surrounded by woodland, orchards and beehives, which in turn enhances biodiversity. Numerous efforts to improve the estate’s sustainability have been implemented, including planting trees in the heart of the vineyards, shrubbery at the edges of vines to prevent erosion, organic composting and the traditional use of horse and plow, further expanding their commitment to nature. Another remarkable method used by the estate is the growing of their own herbs used for creating decoctions which are then sprayed on the vines, environmentally increasing the health and vitality of their vineyards.

Spread across the 87-hectare, single-block vineyard is an ocean of vines which produce their sensational portfolio of red and white wines. Seven different grape varieties are grown on the property including, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot used for blending the red wines. Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Semillon are used in their white wine production. Their flagships Smith Haut Lafitte and Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc produce 10,000 and 2,500 cases respectively each year. Their second and third wines both have a white counterpart and have minimal annual production.

This impressive operation constantly seeks answers from nature, placing great emphasis on enhancing that harmony with human talent, in its efforts of creating a perfectly balanced wine.

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