On November 9th, 2014 I visited the Mark Herold Wine room in Napa with my friend, Heather. At the time, I had become a member of this winery and spent a great deal of time there. The staff were really great and wine nerds in the best possible way. To thank them, I decided to share a bottle of 1964 Chateav Smith Havt Lafitte Martillac with them. I also called my friend and local Napa resident, David. We went to middle school together a long time ago and he was the person who turned me onto Mark Herold.
This bottle along with another bottle of 1964, a bottle of 1962 Chapoutier & Cie Hermitage Rhone Red, a magnums of 1999 and 2000 Dunn Vineyard Cabernet was my inheritance from my birth dad, who passed away that September. 2014 had been a big blow to me as I had lost both birth parents after being reunited for 20 years. I opened a Dunn Vineyard magnum for my birth dad's wake at Carmel Country Club and after a time airing out, it went well with the chef's menu plates with three of my birth dad's five wives and their adult kids. My inheritance from my birth dad was a bunch of slides and photos and wine. That was just fine.
So, back to Mark Herold and this tasting of 1964 Chateav Smith Havt Lafitte Martillac with the staff and my friends. Vintage wine this old is tricky. It is difficult making the decision to open a bottle this old because you need to find people who are interested in wine enough to have an adventure sipping a wine older than them and may not taste like wine they are used to. Also, my dad didn't have a proper cellar so I had no idea how it would survive all these years. Mark Herold lent us a decanter to let the wine breathe.
Lively ruby-brick colour;clean aromas, brown sugar, light sweet cherry, sous-bois, bark, wet leaves,"old & beautiful", wet hay, under growth, compost bin, wood chips black mushrooms, pot-pouri; light sweet impression of small forest berries in the mouth, no more tannins to speak of, smooth, balanced, tangy, good tart medium finish. This was quite awesome and in amazingly good shape.
Château Smith Haut Lafitte is a Bordeaux wine from the Pessac-Léognan appellation, ranked among the Crus Classés for red wine in the Classification of Graves wine of 1953 and 1959. The winery and vineyards are located south of the city of Bordeaux, in the commune of Martillac.
When we finally got down to tasting, we found that this was very different than the California wines we were used to. My friends were not into it. It smelled like an old port and tasted like spiced berries. It was an earthy, fruity French wine. The Peter Nelson review hit it on the head.
We toasted my birth dad who would approve of opening up a bottle of old wine in his honor.