AT A GLANCE:
Position: No 16
Name of wine estate: Château Smith Haut Lafitte
Wine region: Graves, Bordeaux
Standout points: A Michelin 2-star rated restaurant, La Grand Vigne; prized sculptures among the vineyards
Winemaker: Fabien Teitgen
Wine style: Cabernet sauvignon-based blends
Graves’ rising star
In the past decade, with the help of several oenological consultants including the legendary Michel Rolland, the once-unremarkable Château Smith Haut Lafitte – sometimes referred to as ‘the sleeping beauty’ – has undergone a quiet transformation to become one of the leading estates in Graves. The owners responsible for this are former champion skiing couple Peter and Florence Cathiard, who live in the estate’s magnificent 18th-century chateau.
Since 1990 the Cathiards have made huge changes both to the wine and the estate, which is now one of the most tourist friendly in the region. The estate grounds are magnificent. The vineyards, for instance, have almost become a sculpture park, displaying large-scale works from the likes of English sculptor Barry Flanagan, Italian Mimmo Paladino and US artist Jim Dine.
Go to the source
But there’s more. Much more. Next door to the château is the Les Sources de Caudalie – a stunning five-star hotel and spa with adjoining Michelin 2-star rated restaurant, La Grand Vigne. This is the ideal place from which to arrange your Smith Haut Lafitte experience.
Ever wondered what it would be like to become a chef de culture or a maître de chai of a Grand Cru Bordeaux estate? Of course you have. And this is your chance to find out.
In the steps of a Grand Cru winemaker
Among Château Smith Haut Lafitte’s well-conceived range of tour options you’ll find the ‘In the winegrower’s footsteps’ Workshop. Here you will experience the daily life of a vineyard manager or cellarmaster. Take your secateurs in hand and venture out into the vineyards to practice pruning techniques and learn about the lifecycle of the vine; or if you’re more inclined towards the cellar, gain experience of pigeage and bâtonnage, or even the alchemical work of an atelier d’assemblage, in a bespoke blending workshop. All of your hard work will be rewarded with a tasting of Smith Haut Lafitte white and red wines in the property’s picturesque orangerie.