A few words from Fabien Teitgen, technical and managing director at Château Smith Haut Lafitte, on the 2019 vintage.
How would you describe the 2019 season?
The impression is that 2019 was a very hot year because of the two heat spikes, but during the growing time (April to July) the addition of temperatures was lower compared with 2017 and 2018. During the ripening time (August and September), the cumulative temperature sits between 2017 and 2018. We also had cool nights in September. Overall, I think that the 2019 wines will be more balanced than imagined.
How did you adapt your winemaking in 2019?
We always try to adapt the fermentation and the extraction with the quality of the grapes and the level of ripeness. This year the ripeness and the level of sugar was quite high so we decided to decrease the fermentation and maceration temperature as well as doing fewer punch downs in order to end up with a very gentle extraction to get just the right tannins. The grapes were very rich with tannin so we didn’t need to extract too deeply.
Could you tell us about the specific blend you used for the 2019 vintage?
This year we used a rather classic blend for our wines; the red Smith Haut Lafitte is 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 4% Cab Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The Merlot was very dense and powerful and the Cabernet Sauvignon was great with very long length and a wonderful tannin structure providing a wonderful skeleton for my reds.
The white Smith Haut Lafitte is 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon; We had a different style of Sauvignon Blanc – it has fatness but with always a good freshness; the Sauvignon Gris a really great and the Semillon has a lovely smooth texture
How does 2019 compare to other vintages?
It’s always difficult to answer to this question because each vintage is unique but I can say that the red wine has the roundness and the texture of 2009, but with more freshness in the aromas and more acidity, perhaps like 2015 for the aromas and 2017 for the acidity and the length.
Did you introduce anything new to the vineyard or winery in 2019?
2019 was the first year when we were able to use our own medicinal plant garden with such things as camomile and valerian prepared as a tea infusion. We also trialed straw cover for anti-mildew purposes and use ultraviolet light during early spring to stimulate natural vine defenses.
Read the full report: Bordeaux 2019 A Vintage Preview