Owner: Cathiard family
Classification: Crus Classe des Graves
Vineyard area: 67 hectares
Average annual production: 10,000 cases (Smith Haut Lafitte), 3,000 cases (Smith Haut Lafitte blanc), 5,500 cases (Les Hauts de Smith and Le Petit Haut Lafitte)
Colour: Red, White, Rose
Standard blend: (red) 35% Merlot / 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc / 1% Petit Verdot (white) 90% Sauvignon Blanc / 5% Sauvignon Gris / 5% Semillon
Standard blend – Second wines: Les Hauts de Smith (exists in red, white and rose versions), Le Petit Haut Lafitte (red)
The origins of the estate can be traced back to the noble Bosq family who started growing grapes on the “Lafitte” gravel plateau in the fourteenth century. In 1720 the property was purchased by Scotsman George Smith who gave the estate its present name by adding his surname to the vineyard. In 1842, the Mayor of Bordeaux inherited the chateau from his mother and started to improve the quality of the wine. The Louis Eschenauer company distributed Smith Haut Lafitte from the early 20th century and in 1958 they purchased the estate.
In 1990, former French Olympic skier, Daniel Cathiard, bought Smith Haut Lafitte and embarked on an investment programme that included the construction of a new 1,000 barrel underground cellar. During this period, modern winemaking techniques were merged with “age old” traditional methods and the quality of the wine improved significantly.
Prior to the acquisition of Smith Haut Lafitte by the Cathiard family, the chateau bore the nickname “sleeping beauty” owing to its potential.
Since the Cathiard family purchased the estate in 1990, Smith Haut Lafitte’s reputation has grown. The wine has consistently scored above 90 points from the Wine Advocate (in-bottle) and its average score of 95.1 for the last ten physical vintages is above its peer group average, the Left Bank 200 index. It has also outperformed the Left Bank 200 over the last five years, rising 22.2%. Over the same period the Left Bank 200 has fallen 4.8%.
Of the recent vintages, the 100-point 2009 has been the best performer over the past 12 months, up 32.2%. It is the highest scored vintage and it entered the Liv-ex 100 in July. This is the first time a wine from the chateau has been included in the index. Robert Parker referred to the 2009 vintage as “the finest wine ever made by proprietors Daniel and Florence Cathiard.” As can be seen from the chart below it is the highest priced Smith Haut Lafitte vintage currently available in the secondary market.
Buyers looking for value may be attracted to the 2012 vintage (WA 95) which is available for less than the lower scored 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011 vintages at a Market Price of £530 per 12×75. It is the second best performing vintage of the last twelve months.
This month, the 2010 vintage (WA 98+) broke out of the range it had traded in for the past three years and traded at £1,064. The recent jump has put it at a similar level to the 98-point 2005 vintage that is currently available at a Market Price of £1,050. The 2005 vintage was upgraded in Parker’s ten-year retrospective of Bordeaux 2005 last year and has seen the largest year-on-year change (41%) of wines that were upgraded in the review.