I love the wines of Bordeaux, particularly those on the left bank and increasingly more the area south of the city of Bordeaux, Pessac Leognan. In fact, Pessac might be one of the best places to go among the top Bordeaux regions if you’re looking for the biggest bang for the buck.
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte is situated in an ideal location, not far from other top Pessac estates like Chateau Haut-Bailly, Domaine de Chevalier, and the famed Haut-Brion.
One thing to note about Bordeaux wines is that the estates will often produce second or third wines, in addition to their premier estate wine. These second and third offerings are typically lower priced, and a little less desirable just because they tend to use fruit from younger vines. But they still can be quite good.
The estate bottles can cost 2-3X as much or more, so getting into the other offerings is much more accessible to a wider range of wine drinkers. For today’s review we’re looking at the second wine from Smith Haut Lafitte that I found at Costco for $27.89.
That’s a pretty crazy price as I’ve seen this wine for $37 at a big box wine shop. The estate wine from Smith Haut Lafitte, depending on the year, is going to run around $100, maybe more.
In my cellar, I just happened to have an estate wine of the same vintage as the second label bottle from Costco; so although this is going to be a costly experiment, I thought it would be fun to drink them side by side, note any differences, and really see if the estate wine is worth 4X the price.
The short answer is yes. The estate wine is worth 4X the price. But that doesn’t mean the Le Petit is a bad buy. For the price, I thought it was an excellent wine. It just doesn’t have the power and depth of the estate bottle.
The wines look similar in the glass but once I gave them a sniff, it became apparent the estate bottle was in a league of its own. In the mouth, the flavor profiles were similar, dark fruit, blackberry, plum and cedar, but the power behind the estate bottle was unmistakable.
Le Petit held it’s own though, and outside of being consumed next to its big brother, I feel the wine can stand up pretty good to most other bottles in the $20-$40 price range. It’s certainly ready to drink now or in the next few years, as the estate wine can (and probably should) go for another 10+ years. So that’s another benefit of these second label wines.
The finish was nice and fairly long on the Le Petit, but the estate wine really dug in and held on for the long haul.
Overall, I’m a huge fan of both wines, and they are both super fair for their price points. If you want an entry into the wines of Bordeaux and Pessac, the La Petit is an excellent choice.
When you want something special, the estate bottle is just to die for (and I have a feeling the next vintages, 2015-2016 will be even better).
So there you have it. Is the estate wine worth 4X the price? Yes, it really is that good. Is the Le Petit second label a good buy at Costco for $28? Absolutely, and I’m going 90 points and will be adding it to the Top Picks list. If I had to rate the estate wine, I’d probably be in the 93-94 point range. It’s something special.
CostcoWineBlog.com Rating: 90 points (a CostcoWineBlog Top Pick)
Costco item number: 919671
Purchased at Costco in: Atlanta, GA