A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot aging in 60% new barriques, the very deep purple-black colored 2020 Smith Haut Lafitte makes an impactful entrance, opening with flamboyant notes of blackcurrant pastilles, chocolate-covered cherries and molten licorice, leading to nuances of ground cloves, woodsmoke, crushed rocks and dusty soil. The medium to full-bodied palate bursts with opulent black fruit preserves and shimmering mineral sparks, framed by exquisitely ripe and fantastically firm tannins and seamless freshness, finishing with epically long-lasting earthy and savory layers. This is the singular voice of Smith Haut Lafitte at its finest, and wow-oh-wow is it worth a listen. This 2020 has an alcohol of 14.5% with a pH of 3.65. The tannins this year were a little higher than 2018 and 2019. A little less than a third of production went into this grand vin.
Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (May 2021)Score: 98-100/100Drink 2028-2068
Possibly ranking with the top two or three wines of the vintage, the 2020 Smith Haut Lafitte is a blockbuster that reminds me of a hypothetical mix of the 2009 and 2010. Based on a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, its dense purple hue is followed by a monster bouquet of ripe black fruits, scorched earth, charcoal, and graphite. All of these carry to a full-bodied Pessac-Léognan with flawless balance, loads of ripe, polished tannins, a dense mid-palate, and a great, great finish. It’s one of the gems in the vintage and should be snatched up by readers. Give bottles just 4-6 years in the cellar, count yourself lucky, and enjoy over the following 20-30 years.
Jeb Dunnuck (May 2021)Score: 97-100/100
Powerful on the attack, dense and concentrated at first then brighter on the retro-olfaction with layers of spice, liquorice and flowers. Intense but beautifully precise, with iris and peony aromatics coming in strongly as it opens in the glass. A ton of nuance and complexity, really takes its time, delivering a masterclass in restrained Pessac glamour. Average yields 30hl/ha for the reds. 1% Petit Verdot completes the blend. 60% new oak. Harvest started on September 9 - 30.
Jane Anson, Decanter (May 2021)Score: 97/100Drink 2030-2050
The 2020 Smith Haut Lafitte is a thrilling wine of grandeur and spellbinding beauty. The aromatics literally soar out of the glass, perhaps driven by a touch more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. A vertical, explosive wine, the 2020 possesses tremendous energy. It is a rapturous wine that will delight readers for years to come. A move towards gentler extractions, with less oak impact, allows the purity of the fruit to come through loud and clear. Inky dark cherry, plum, mocha, dried herbs and lavender are all amplified in the 2020, but what I admire most is a total sense of harmony. I can't wait to see how it ages, as evolution has at times been the sole Achilles heel here.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous (May 2021)Score: 95-97/100Drink 2028-2045
The 2020 Smith Haut Lafitte was picked from September 9, the yields 20% down on average due to the dry summer period, and matured in 60% new oak with no vin de presse. This actually blossomed after an hour’s opening, revealing exquisite blackberry, briar, crushed rock and light rose petal scents, very nuanced considering the growing season and the 14.5° alcohol. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins and a very fine line of acidity that keeps this on its tippy-toes. Disarmingly pure, its silky texture is very appealing, likewise the veering toward more red berry fruit laced with white pepper toward the finish. This may well surpass the previous two vintages. An outstanding effort from winemaker Fabien Teitgen and his team.
Neal Martin, Vinous (May 2021)Score: 95-97/100Drink 2025-2055
So much blackcurrant, graphite and iodine character. Full-bodied. Incredible quality to the tannins. They are polished yet powerful. It's so long and complete with such depth and toned muscles. Vertical. Very fresh and energetic. Will it be better than the famous 2015? Maybe the best ever. From organically grown grapes. 65% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot, 4% cabernet franc and 1% petit verdot.
James Suckling (April 2021)Score: 99-100/100
Full bottle 1,355 g. Cask sample taken 22 April. Harvest started as early as 9 September until 30 September. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. 60% new barriques. Pioneer of biodynamics and sustainability in Bordeaux. Mid crimson. Nuanced, complex nose suggests masses of ripeness and intense aromas. Interesting dried-bay-leaves note on the nose followed by some slight leafiness. Rich, polished palate – structured juiciness. Then pretty dry on the finish – not quite as luscious on the palate as the nose suggests. Masses of sandy-textured tannins on the finish. Will need lots of time.
Jancis Robinson MW (April 2021)Score: 17+/20Drink 2029-2045
This is plump, dark and a little brooding on the nose, with a mineral note and something a little animal. On the palate, it’s similarly dark-fruited but with savoury depths to complement the quite plush blackberry and black plum fruit. It’s fulsome and round – but with a saline freshness. There is real purity and concentration to the waves of dark, fresh fruit – ripe and plump blackberries and dark plum. The tannins are really ripe and beautifully melded, yet present, providing the necessary structure. This is delicious, and quite moreish with that salinity complementing the otherwise dark-fruited profile.
FINE+RARE (April 2021)