One of the most famous - as well as one of the most expensive - wines in the world, Chateau 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 Chateau’s owners, after it was sold at public auction in Paris - and it remains in their hands today.
Producing an elegant Paulliac wine, Chateau 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”.
95-97/100 Andrew Caillard MW. Deep colour. Very intense blackcurrant/ black olive/ graphite/ cedar aromas with hints of paneforte. Beautifully concentrated polished wine with pure cassis/ elderberry/ praline flavours and silky graphite tannins. Chalky crisp finish. Superb energy, substance and vinosity.
90-93/100 Robert Parker Jr. A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot (harvested between September 3-21), the 2011 Lafite Rothschild came in at 12.6% natural alcohol (considerably lower than in 2010 and 2009). Exhibiting a deep ruby/purple color, lots of crushed rock, red and black currant, forest floor and underbrush characteristics, moderate tannin and medium body, it is built somewhat along the lines of the 1999 and 2001. It should be a 20- to 25-year wine, but it is not at the level of the 2008, 2009 and 2010. Fresh acids give the wine a somewhat more clipped feeling than most great Lafites have exhibited. Nevertheless, there is a lot of freshness and vibrancy to this vintage.
94-95/100 James Suckling. A bit chewy but shows an impressive intensity of spice, sweet tobacco, and currant character. Full, dense and structured. Muscular for the vintage for Lafite. Tobacco box aftertaste. Some wet earth too.
18.5/20 Julia Harding MW, Jancis Robinson. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot. Deep dark crimson with rich purple rim. Delicate, pure cassis dark fragrance, the merest hint of oak spice. Tannins are a conundrum, feeling dense and savoury at first and then gliding over the finish line. Polar opposite of Mouton style.
93–96/100 James Molesworth, Wine Spectator. Still tightly wound and very restrained, but there's a serious well of black plum and macerated currant fruit in reserve, held behind substantial but well-ripened tannins and a strong chalk and iron note. There's a nice austerity to the very driven mineral finish. Tasted non-blind.
18.5/20 Steven Spurrier, Decanter.Dense black-red, lovely fragrance yet still very firm, a seriously classic Lafite, very long term. Drink 2020-2050.
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.