Matthew Jukes - Wine Notes

2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report – Episode 9 – Smith Haut Lafitte & Family

2020 Bordeaux En Primeur Report

Episode 9 – Smith Haut Lafitte

WHITES

2020 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac-Léognan

90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Semillon, 5% Sauvignon Gris

50% new oak

29 hL/ha

This is outstanding, with tremendous depth and broad swathes of citrus, almond, brioche and pineapple husk from start to finish and while this is a full-framed wine it is also one with epic balance from start to finish.  The control and delivery of oak on display here is of the highest order and this wine can sit alongside any other from Bordeaux and most of the top candidates from Burgundy, too, such is its class.  The acid and tension here are both thrilling and it will no doubt age extremely well, too.  19+/20

2020 Les Hauts de Smith Blanc, Pessac-Léognan (2nd wine of  Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc)

100% Sauvignon Blanc

50% new oak

29 hL/ha

Pinched and zesty on the finish with a fair amount of oak, layering the flavour, too, this is a forceful wine with a stern attitude and the Sauvignon Blanc is tart, sharp and this is augmented by the stony minerality which adds to the ultra-dry finish.  Exciting and dynamic, this is a wine to watch.  17.5+/20

2020 Le Petit Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac-Léognan (alternative 2nd wine of Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc)

80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon

50% new oak

29 hL/ha

Interestingly, the addition of 20% Semillon to this wine doesn’t really alter the complexity of the flavour here but it certainly adjusts the texture and also the density of fruit.  With a richer mid-palate and a less angular finish, this will be a more forward-drinking wine than Les Hauts de Smith Blanc and a slightly fuller-framed wine, too, but it is not quite as refined.   It also throws this wine into the main course arena whereas Les Hauts probably favours full-flavoured starters!  17/20

2020 Château Cantelys Blanc, Pessac-Léognan

Surprisingly forward and juicy, there is a lovely, bright perfume here and it doesn’t hold back on the palate either.  Pliable, plump and smooth on the palate with a nice array of integrated oak notes and hints of pineapple and Sicilian lemons, this is a refreshingly open style with a pinpoint accurate finish, too.  17/20

REDS

2020 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge, Pessac-Léognan

65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot

60% new oak

30 hL/ha

This is a cultured and extremely enjoyable wine with a gentlemanly feel about it and there is calm fruit, balanced oak and energetic tannins, all perfectly proportioned, and this makes it one of the finer wines from this appellation in 2020.  The tannins are nicely marshalled and crisp and they will retreat in an orderly fashion in ten or fifteen years.  18+/20

2020 Le Petit Haut Lafitte Rouge, Pessac-Léognan (alternative 2nd wine of Smith Haut Lafitte)

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot

30% new oak

30 hL/ha

This is a firm, compact wine with a singular cassis theme and a lovely freshness on the finish.  There are tannins here but they are discreet and refreshing and so this means that Le Petit Haut Lafitte will drink early with enthusiastic hedgerow notes being the main theme.  16.5/20

2020 Les Hauts de Smith Rouge, Pessac-Léognan (2nd wine of Smith Haut Lafitte)

60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon

30% new oak

30 hL/ha

This is a much juicier and more fruit-driven wine than Le Petit Haut Lafitte Rouge and there is a large element of red fruit here which differentiates it from its more slender, cassis-themed sibling.  This is no surprise when you look at the blend which is the mirror image of Le Petit.  Nice and round, this is another successful wine from this terrific estate.  16.5/20

2020 Château Cantelys Rouge, Pessac-Léognan (from the Smith Haut Lafitte portfolio)

This is a backward wine with a hard mineral edge but under this brittle exterior there is generous Cabernet fruit and while it will take longer than the other wines in the SHL portfolio to start drinking, this will be a gentlemanly wine given time.  16.5+/20

2020 Château Le Thil Comte Clary, Pessac-Léognan (from the Smith Haut Lafitte portfolio)

With bright red fruit and a touch of mint, this is a forward, juicy, friendly style of wine which is kept nicely in balance with fresh, crunchy acidity.  Not particularly complicated, but rather tasty and pure, this is a safe bet for those of you I search of forward-drinking Pessac-Léognan wines in this vintage.  16/20

Scores – I have attached my scores out of 20 for each wine.  If a score has no ‘+’, this indicates a wine that is in balance and can be drunk relatively young thanks to its precocity and charm. One ‘+’ indicates a wine that will benefit from medium-term ageing (in accordance with the style of the wine), while two ‘++’ indicates a wine that should manage to make the long haul, softening and evolving as it goes.   A ‘?’ means that I am unsure about an element within the wine – this will be explained in my note.