Composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot aging in 60% new barriques, the very deep purple-black colored 2018 Smith Haut Lafitte is a little shy to begin. With coaxing, it very slowly unfurls to reveal a heart-stopping perfume of violets, red roses, kirsch, black cherries and redcurrant jelly, before giving way to a profound core of warm blackcurrants, blackberry preserves, molten licorice and cinnamon stick with nuances of dried mint, orange blossoms (yes!) and cloves. Full-bodied, the fruit does veritable pirouettes on your palate, both elegant and powerful in its expression, coating the mouth with densely packed red and black fruits while revealing tons of mineral, floral and savory sparks, framed by exquisitely fine-grained tannins and bold freshness, finishing very long.
This is incredibly complex with hazelnut, currant, berry and dried-flower character. The impression of a vat of fermenting cabernet. Full body, round and juicy tannins and a long, soft and silky finish. Shows the essence of the fruit here. Fascinating. Layered and complex.
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Only 50% of the crop thanks to mildew (organic treatment only). ‘Like a huge green harvest’, says owner Florence Cathiard. Barrel sample. Black with purple rim. Intense, pure, ripe but fresh cassis and gently floral. Much more savoury on the palate, very firm, compact but fine, chalky tannins. Tightly structured. Many-layered rather than thick. Dense and impenetrable at the moment but has enough freshness and incipient harmony to promise more. (JH) Drink 2028-2038