This sits a long way above the second wines this year, and here they are very close to recent successes, with excellent juice running right through the cassis, bilberry, liquorice, dark chocolate and charcoal notes. It's an extremely classical, sculpted vintage with a lovely grilled edge that gives a gourmet, confident feel. It has a velvety texture and finely-placed, flexible tannins that are clearly going to age well. This is a real success, and a testament to their attention to detail - for example, they had 105 pickers in 2016 but 160 pickers in 2017, because with the September rain they wanted to go more quickly. Half of the vineyard is now farmed biodynamically, with full conversion expected for 2020. 60% new oak. 1% Petit Verdot completes the blend given.
This is a solid Smith for the vintage with blackberry and blackcurrant character. Full to medium body, firm and silky tannins and a lingering finish. Excellent potential here.
A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte opens slowly to reveal complex notes of crushed black cherries, black currants and wild blueberries with touches of lavender, pencil lead, cast iron pan and a waft of aniseed. Medium-bodied and elegant with great freshness and quiet intensity, it has firm, grainy tannins and a sustained yet ethereal mid-palate, with a long, energetic, mineral-laced finish.
The 2017 Smith Haut Lafitte was not affected by frost and is therefore a classic blend matured in 60% new oak. The bouquet demands a little encouragement from the glass this year, eventually opening with floral scents, more iris than violet, flanked by blackberry and bilberry. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin that comes across just a little chalky in style. This feels very cohesive and comes replete with a detailed and nuanced finish that might lack the flair and volume of the 2016, but it is certainly sustained and persistent. Give this four to five years in bottle and subject to optimal barrel maturation this may well land at the top of my banded score.