One of the most famous - as well as one of the most prestigious - wines in the world, Château Lafite Rothschild’s history dates back to 1235, by which time, it is believed, the vines were already planted and thriving. Nearly 1,000 years later it still retains the name of its then-owner Gombaud de Lafite. It wasn’t until 1868 that the Rothschild’s came to become the Château’s owners, after it was sold at public auction in Paris - and it remains in their hands today.
Producing an elegant Pauillac wine, Château Lafite is renowned for its characteristic blend of rich dark fruit with spicy, savoury and earthy notes of cassis, tobacco, and truffle. The 2016 earned sterling reviews, with James Suckling scoring it a perfect 100 and speculating on its standing as “Perhaps the greatest Lafite since the legendary 1959”.
Fabulous aromas of currant, tobacco, mineral and cedar with licorice undertones. Muscular wine with firm yet velvety tannins. Full-bodied, with lots of fruit yet reserved and long. Wonderful balance yet plenty of strength. Extremely well-toned and long. 2000 again? JS 95-100
The 2005 Lafite is a lighter-styled effort than I expected, but of course, this estate is renowned for its delicacy and finesse. After the world-beating, off-the-charts 2003, which is a modern-day clone of the 1959, the 2005 seems pretty and restrained, but very noble as one would expect. Remarkably, the alcohol is actually higher in 2005 than in 2003, topping out at 13+%. The final blend was 88.8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10.7% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot. Production represented only 40% of the harvest. The wine’s dark plum/ruby/purple color is followed by Lafite’s tell-tale aromas of lead pencil shavings intermixed with flowers, minerals, sweet berries, and black currants. Medium-bodied, quintessentially elegant and finesse-styled with high but ripe tannin, it is an impeccably pure, exceptionally well-made effort. Despite its obvious charm, my instincts suggest it will shut down after bottling. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2050+. RP Jr. 93-96
Deep crimson. This beautifully made wine must be a contender as wine of the vintage. It is a completely ethereal and complex wine with intense liquorice/ cedar/ violet/ cassis/ mocha aromas. The palate is both powerful and composed with immensely deep black currant liquorice fruit flavours and dense plush ripe granulated tannins. There are some savoury/ spicy nuances which are virtually subsumed by fruit sweetness and concentration. It finishes so long and sweet that there is almost no vanishing point. There is an everlasting quality to this wine. It will outlive us all – although thankfully optimum drinking during our life time is a certainty! 2025-2045. AC 99-100
Pauillac is Bordeaux’s most acclaimed appellation, the only one with three Premier Cru properties: Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Latour. These and other Pauillac chateaux produce robust, full-flavored and long-lived red wines made from Cabernet-based blends. Though winemaking techniques and microclimates vary throughout Pauillac, producing some variations in style, classic Pauillac wines have juicy flavours of blackcurrant and cedar, often with coffee, chocolate and graphite notes. Pauillac, part of the Médoc region on Bordeaux’s Left Bank, has gravelly and well-drained soils that force vines to grow long and strong roots. Struggling a bit for water, the vines produce grapes with high tannins and concentrated juices. Nearby rivers and the Atlantic Ocean modulate temperatures, preventing the grapes from ripening too quickly. Such grapes make powerful wines that may age and improve for decades. However, in Pauillac, as in other old-world wine regions, some winemakers are working to develop softer red wines that maintain the local wines’ traditional substance and flavours, but are more approachable immediately upon release.