It was a foggy morning. The first day of estate visits. Slightly nervous climbing behind the wheel of a car again after more than 12 months, to do some real driving out into the countryside.
But why you nervous man? You've been wanting to come here since you were 18. You've read and researched the wines, the terroirs, the personalities of Bordeaux countless times. You've dreamed of them, and finally you're here.
Yet I was nervous. Coming here, to arguably the greatest (and certainly most famous) wine region of the world ... sometimes living up to expectations is hard.
A first stop at Smith Haut Lafitte. A history lesson, first. Then a tour through the chai. Large oak vats to macerate and begin primary fermentation in ...
... as well as their on-site cooperage (750€ per).
This is amazing to see. To be here, to see the birthplace of the wines I've not only come to admire but to love. Shit I can't believe I'm here.
Quick ... what are the 3 types of wood used in a traditional barrique bordelaise? The staves are oak, of course. The trim, chestnut. And the bar across the ends is pine.
I started thinking ... you know how a mark of a great chef is how clean and orderly the kitchen is? The same must also apply to winemaking. The installation is impressive, but considering the money behind it, it better be. It's the attention to detail, the constant maintenance that makes the difference ...
... from staining the barriques used to age the red wines in with sponges soaked with racked off lees ...
... to the absolute alignment all the way down the chai.
I wasn't nervous anymore. There's a sense of peace here, total tranquility. And it's not just because of the expensive topiary or modern art scattered around the estate ...
... it's the sense that everything here is what it was meant to be ...
... authentic, purposeful, and of the highest quality. No need to be nervous no more.
2012 Les Hauts de Smith Blanc: Bright citrus nose, minerality which follows on the palate; great extract, tightness and energy, mineral and very linear. Touch of roundness from oak, alcohol comes up on the finish.
2007 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge: Earthy, slightly bretty, thick mushroomy fruit. Sharp acidity on the palate, lean, and just not much there in complexity. Thin fruit, prickly tannins, bitterness on the finish.