The 2012 vintage in Bordeaux was considered at the time of its release to be superior to the 2011 that proceeded it, most similar to 2008. Merlot was more successful than its leading partner Cabernet Sauvignon, combating the late rains that troubled the left bank more than the right bank. Pessac Leognan which contains gravelly soils and a higher percentage of Merlot than its northern counterparts, came out on top form barrel and then bottle. The leading Pessacs from 2012 made the roll-call, producing quality reserved for only the great vintages. The good news is that 2012 Pessac got caught in a one price fits all for the vintage, well priced for wines which can age for two decades yet drink beautifully young, thereon offering high quality at excellent value. We posit this is true today and the vintage has now hit its straps, the wines are simultaneously entering their drinking windows, yet remains excellent value.
We are thrilled to offer one of the leading wines of 2012, an exemplifier of the brilliance of Pessac and dare we say, a signifier of top claret. Smith Haut Lafitte 2012 was awarded 95 points from Robert Parker, who calls it ‘another sensational effort from the Cathiards that is perfectly balanced, complex, super-rich and pure.’ James Suckling follows suit, as does Antonio Galloni who describes it as a ‘A dark, sensual wine, the 2012 Smith Haut Lafitte boasts marvellous depth and textural richness.’ As can be seen from the table below, which displays all vintages since 2005 with a score of 95 or above from Parker that the 2012 is undervalued. It has the lowest Price Over Point Score, 30% lower than the average. The most striking thing is that price at £650 per case of 12 equates to £54.17 a bottle in bond, it represents unmissable value from the Estate. It is clear the Estate have entered a new pricing model and collectors are well advised to stock up on the best value back vintage. Indeed, it is a truism of our times that any leading claret below £70 a bottle is a gift that will keep giving.
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Smith Haut Lafitte is also one of Bordeaux’s oldest Estates heralding from the 14th century first planted in 1365 by the house of Verrier Du Boscq. The terroir was considered then as one of the finest in Bordeaux, sited south of the city proper in Pessac-Leognan in the commune of Martillac, then named Lafitte. It was bought in 1720 by Scotsman Georges Smith, who added his name lieu-dit, hence its name today. It passed hands in 1958 to the Louis Eschenauer company, however, it was not until 1990 when Daniel and Florence Cathiard bought the Estate and embarked on a huge investment plan, igniting its return to former glories. The Cathiard’s are the very definition of a power couple, both champion skiers who competed in the Olympics and then who then went on to make their fortune by creating a large French sporting goods store, the sale of which facilitated both the purchase and development of Smith Haut Lafitte.
Upon taking over the estate the Cathiard family immediately stopped mechanical harvesting, moving to hand picking grapes, with specially designed ergonomic hod trays implemented to prevent oxidation. These were created by Daniel Cathiard based on a design used by Sherpas in the Himalayas. A second manual sorting is carried out after destemming on a sorting table. In 1995, they built their own cooperage to control 70% of their barrel production in house. They then completely re-designed the facilities implementing state of the art mechanisms and practices. They update this regularly, recently creating a trap door in their main tasting room, James Bond style; a wine-owner’s lair. In 2009, they were one of the first Estates to use Oenoview satellite imagery systems to ensure perfect ripening. The vineyards are fully organic and self-sustainable, in fact they farmed with an eye on biodynamic techniques. All wine is moved by gravity in the cellars and aged for 16 to 18 months in 60 to 70% new French Oak. They also employed Michel Rolland and Stephane Derenoncourt as consultants. The terroir boasts deep gravel, with the top-surface covered in quartz pebbles, sand and limestone. The vineyard is planted with 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The vines today are between 50 and 70 years of age. Indeed, it is one of the lowest producing left bank chateaux with only 10,000 cases made.
The renown of this Estate has reached new heights, not only is it one of the leading Estates in Bordeaux, their hotel Les Sources De Caudalie, which has turned its spa brand into a global marvel, the Spas & boutiques, now present in many of the world’s leading hotels. Indeed, the skincare brand Caudalieis has grown to a $180 million global powerhouse. Our offer today represents prodigious value for a leading global superstar and comes with our highest recommendation. The cases are in bond in the UK and available for immediate delivery, should you wish to enjoy it over the festive period. If not it will pay dividends for years, with a drinking window of 2015 to 2040.