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Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Graves 1961
A truly memorable bottle, drunk with dinner in a wonderfully old-fashioned Michelin-starred restaurant in the Loire Valley. The short wines list was hand-written, with much crossing out of wines long gone, and newer additions squeezed into margins in a spidery hand. This was mature Bordeaux nirvana at prices to make a wine lover weep. I settled on this Smith Haut Lafitte from the greatest post war vintage, at little more than £60 ($90US). When brought from the cellar it was covered in a patina of dust. I asked the owner how long it had been in the cellar, and she looked at me quizically, removing her glasses and speaking patiently: "Since 1963 Monsieur. This is the first time it has been disturbed since my father bought it en primeur". The wine was just gorgeous. Mellow, fully mature and resolved into a beautiful, slightly gamy, savoury, briar wood and cedar melange, with nuances of smoke and minerals. On the palate there is still good body and sweetness of fruit, and there is no sense of the wine drying out or becoming fragile. Tannins are now very much in the background, but acidity still lifts the palate sufficiently, leading to a long, mellow finish. This wine is drinking beautifully in an understated, poised, elegant format. A really lovely wine and quite a treat. (08/01)