Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Winery Guide

Beautiful Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte is far more than simply a top-flight wine estate in Bordeaux. It symbolizes how passion and investment can transform a once-obscure property into a beacon of superlative winemaking and high-end wine tourism. For Smith-Haut-Lafitte is now one of the most exciting wines, renowned for its weight, elegance, balance, and finesse. Unlike their compatriots further north in Médoc, white production is equally important to the growers in the Pessac-Leognan region south of Bordeaux town; Smith-Haut-Lafitte’s white is accepted as one of the finest around. But as if excellent winemaking wasn’t enough, the estate also functions as a center of luxury tourism and gastronomy, boasting a Michelin-starred restaurant that attracts foodies from miles around on delicious food & wine pilgrimage through this historic and very scenic region.

Vines were first planted south of Bordeaux by the Romans; wine has been made in Graves for far longer than in the Médoc. The property that we today know as Smith-Haut-Lafitte was named after Georges Smith, one of the first owners of this magnificent Château. After Smith died, the estate, as is often the case in Bordeaux, found a succession of new owners until 1902, when it caught the eye of a major merchant house called Eschenauer. At first, the firm was unwilling to buy the Château completely, so they instead leased Smith-Haut-Lafitte for decades, finally deciding to take the plunge and buy it in 1958. They took good care of the estate for many years; however, its reputation and the wines remained sound rather than lauded. Smith-Haut-Lafitte’s true Renaissance came in 1991 when the Cathiard family brought it; new owners, Daniel and Florence, were a dynamic duo of wealthy entrepreneurs who knew how to elevate Smith-Haut-Lafitte to true greatness. An exciting chapter in the estate’s history would begin.

Since taking ownership of the property in the 1990s, the Cathiards have invested unprecedented money and time into reinvigorating the winemaking and installing a fine hotel and restaurant on the grounds. Of course, their priority was winemaking, and to that end, they renovated the winery and built a new barrel cellar. More recently, the cellar was again wholly renovated in 2014, and a new Stealth Cellar was constructed – a unique building in Bordeaux – to reduce energy consumption. Green credentials, indeed! The family also sought legendary wine consultants Michel Rolland and Stephane Derenoncourt, who helped raise the standards to the best of Bordeaux. However, this was only part of the Cathiards’ master plan. They set their sights on totally rebuilding the Château – which now functions as their primary home- and wished to bring an exciting new level of tourism to the region, which traditionally ignored such endeavors. After finding a disused mineral spring on their property, Florence Cathiard opened the Sources de Caudalie Spa and luxury hotel with two award-winning restaurants and a line of prestigious beauty products.

Today, it’s hard not to lavish high praise on this shining example of how outsiders can transform a once hum-drum Château. The hotel and restaurant spread the renown of the region. Still, more importantly, both the red and white wines are consistently superb, a testament to the expertise of technical director Fabien Tietgen. They remain exquisite, quintessentially refined for all their richness and concentration, and, yes, unmistakably Graves.

Wines produced

  • Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Red (Grand Vin)

    55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. Fermentation takes place in small oak vats, using uncrushed berries. The wine is then aged in 60% new French oak for 18 months. The prestige wine of the property, suitable for extended cellaring.
  • Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte White

    90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Semillon Fermentation takes place in oak barrels. 50% new French oak, 50% 1 year old barrels. The wine is then aged in French oak for 12 months. The second wine of the property, accessible on release. Delicious white Bordeaux, approachable on release.
  • Les Hauts de Smith Red

    55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fermentation takes place in small oak vats, using uncrushed berries. The wine is then aged in 60% new French oak for 14 months. The softer, more approachable red Graves.
  • Les Hauts de Smith White

    100% Sauvignon Blanc. Fermentation takes place in oak barrels, 50% in new French oak. The wine is then aged in French oak for 10 months.
  • Le Petit Haut Lafitte Red (Second Wine)

    55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot. Fermentation takes place in small oak vats, using uncrushed berries. The wine is then aged in French oak for 14 months. The second red wine of the property, suitable for earlier drinking.
  • Le Petit Haut Lafitte

    80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon. Fermentation takes place in oak barrels, 50% in new French oak. The wine is then aged in French oak for 10 months. The second white wine of the property, accessible on release.

Facts & Figures

Appellation

AOC Pessac-Leognan

Founded

1720

Area under Vine

78 hectares

Age of vines

38 years+

Oak barrel origin

French

Winemaker

Yann Laudeho

Owner

Cathiard family

Production

Approximately 18,500 cases

Grape varietals

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Semillon

Grape Varieties Used by the Winery

  • Sauvignon Blanc

    The sauvignon blanc grape varietal, originally from the Bordeaux region of France, is now one of the world's most loved white varieties.

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  • Sauvignon Gris

    Sauvignon Gris, a relative of Sauvignon Blanc, offers distinctive flavors of citrus, flowers, and tropical fruits. It thrives in diverse regions, delivering a range of styles. Perfect for pairing, it captivates with refined flavors.

  • Semillon

    Explore the allure of the Semillon grape & its legendary connection to Sauternes. Unveil the history & flavors of this captivating varietal. Cheers!

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  • Cabernet Franc

    Cabernet Franc grape is a close relative of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and is the principal blending grape used in Bordeaux.

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  • Cabernet Sauvignon

    Discover the irresistible allure of Cabernet Sauvignon—a worldwide favorite with robust, dark-bodied flavor. Unleash your wine journey today!

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  • Merlot

    Merlot is the most cultivated grape in Bordeaux and closely related to Cabernet Franc

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  • Petit Verdot

    Petit Verdot is a full-bodied red wine grape varietal used in classic Bordeaux blends and originates in southwestern France

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More information

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