Château Smith Haut-Lafitte is located in Martillac, in the heart of the Pessac Léognan appellation. Part of one of the oldest châteaux, the wines are classified as "Grands Crus Classés" for both reds and whites in the Graves wine classification since 1959. Thanks to its exceptional terroir, the estate produces elegant, racy and concentrated wines. Since 2019, the wines are certified organic.
OWNERS : Daniel and Florence Cathiard
CELLARMASTER : Yann Laudeho
OENOLOGIST: Michel Rolland
TECHNICALDIRECTOR : Fabien Teitgen
GROWINGMANAGER: Nicolas Poumeyrau
APPELLATION : Pessac-Léognan
VINEYARDAREA: 78 hectares (Red: 67, White: 11)
VINEYARDMANAGEMENT : Organic viticulture
SOILS : Günzian gravel
AVERAGEAGE OF THE VINES : 35 years old
PLANTATION DENSITY: 7,500 to 10,000 vines per hectare
RED GRADES: Cabernet Sauvignon (63%), Merlot (30%), Cabernet Franc (6%), Petit Verdot (1%)
VINIFICATION : Thermo-regulated stainless steel vats, vinification in oak and foudre barrels
MATURING : New and old oak barrels
A BIT OF
The history of the château begins in the 14th century with Verrier Duboscq, who signed a deed of ownership of a few hectares of vines and named the château "Haut Lafitte". It was then George Smith, a Scottish merchant, who bought the estate in the 18th century and gave the château its current name. He was succeeded in 1842 by Lodi Martin Duffor Dubergier, mayor of Bordeaux, who elevated the estate to the rank of "Grand Cru" in the 1855 classification.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Maison Louis Eschenauer, a major figure in the Bordeaux region who was already distributing the estate's wines, bought the property and carried out major work and investments such as the construction of the underground cellar.
Finally, in 1990, the couple Florence and Daniel Cathiard fell under the spell of the château and bought it from the British trader Brent Walker. They carry out colossal works on the estate with the ambition to perpetuate the tradition of excellence of Château Smith Haut-Lafitte. After 3 years of work, demonstrating the ambition of the couple, they settled in the heart of the vineyard in George Smith's 18th century chartreuse to devote themselves entirely to their new passion.
Château Smith Haut-Lafitte is an 87-hectare estate located in the heart of the Pessac-Léognan appellation. With its temperate oceanic climate, it has a precious terroir that gives its identity to the wine. This terroir, which has the reputation of being the "gravest of the gravels", is composed of Günzian Graves, gravelly soils on a limestone base. This terroir has the particularity of having a natural drainage of the soil forcing the roots of the vines to draw water and mineral salts deeply as well as a "mirror" effect of the sun which is reflected on the pebbles contributing to the maturation of the grapes. This brings a minerality to the wines as well as an aromatic complexity reflecting this exceptional terroir.
Surrounded by greenery, biodiversity is reinforced by the presence of a forest, orchards, beehives and vegetable gardens. The estate also has a preserved and natural nursery on the island of Lalande on the Garonne River where they grow their own rootstocks. The teams use many teachings of biodynamic agriculture such as the benefits of medicinal plants in preventing vine diseases. Inscribed in an approach specific to the domain named "bio precision" which consists in combining traditional and innovative techniques in their agriculture as well as in the cellars. This means producing and using their own natural compost, ploughing with horses or replanting with massal selection. This commitment has enabled the Château to be certified as an organic wine producer in 2019. This agriculture is also accompanied by the use of new technologies with the treatment of images by satellite, drone and advanced studies on soils allowing the best possible monitoring of ripening grapes.
For the red wines, the grapes are harvested manually in small batches according to their maturity. In the winery, the grapes are meticulously sorted by optical sorting. They are then transported by gravity into the small truncated wooden vats of the new vat house, which has been operational since 2013. The wines are then aged in barrels in the underground cellars for about 18 months.
For the white wines, the grapes are harvested in crates and then pressed. The juice ferments directly in barrels after a cold racking. The wine will be aged for 12 months on the lees, with stirring if necessary.
For the second wines, they are blended and aged in a different cellar called "chai furtif". This one is hidden in the vegetation and works in positive energy limiting the impact on the environment. Here, we practice a circular economy, a local ecological economic model thanks to solar production, rainwater recovery and cooling of the barrel cellars by a Canadian well. Moreover, Château Smith Haut-Lafitte is the first in the world to have implemented a system that recycles CO2 from wine fermentation.
In 1993, Daniel Cathiard decided to integrate the know-how of a master cooper in order to carry out almost the entire production of the barrels of the château. It is one of the last domains to master this ancestral aspect which is recognized by the label "Entreprises du Patrimoine Vivant". Made from a selection of oak from the best French forests, these barrels contribute to the signature of the estate's wines.
Chateau Smith Haut-Lafitte produces six wines all from the estate's Graves Günziennes terroir in the Pessac-Léognan appellation. Over the past decades the style has evolved from very powerful and woody to delicate yet intense, refined with aromatic complexity dominating the rest.
The Grand Cru Classé de Grave, Château Smith Haut-Lafitte is available in red with a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon, an elegant, concentrated wine with notes of black fruits. In white, with a high proportion of Sauvignon, balanced with aromas of exotic fruits, citrus and white flowers.
The château also has two second wines, Les Hauts de Smith and Petit Haut Lafitte, both in red and white, each with their own unique blend and aromatic identity.