Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chat. Smith-Haut Lafitte – Wed. 4/30/08


My original plan was to visit Chateau Smith-Haut Lafitte and Sauternes on Thursday, but I discovered when I arrived in Bordeaux that most wineries would be closed because May 1 was a national holiday. Therefore, I had to scramble and telephone to make appointments at both wineries for Wednesday afternoon.

I gave myself enough time to have an elegant lunch at the famous Les Sources de Caudalie Hotel and Spa – which is next door to Chat. Smith-Haut Lafitte, and managed by one of the owner’s daughters. First I visited the Spa and picked up a brochure. It was surprisingly affordable, and I wished I would have had more time to spend the afternoon taking some treatments – but wine education is the first priority. The lunch was expensive and upscale, but it was nice to sit near a crackling fire in the dining room and look out over the vineyards.

When I arrived at Chat. Smith-Haut Lafitte, I was impressed by the lovely old building. The estate is in the middle of the 55 hectares of vineyards and specializes in both red and white Bordeaux, but I was visiting to primarily taste and focus on the white winemaking technique. I was surprised to learn that they made their Sauvignon/Semillon blend in a very similar fashion as a white burgundy with whole cluster press, debourbage, battonage, ferment in barrel, and aging in 50% new oak for one year. The result was excellent, and I was able to understand why the wines receive such high praise from wine critics around the world.

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