Chateau Lafite Rothschild is one of the most renowned properties in the Médoc. Owned by Baron Eric de Rothschild and located in the north of the Pauillac appellation, Lafite Rothschild is also one of the largest Médoc estates. It has 95 hectares of vineyards planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (20%) and Cabernet Franc (10%). Lafite Rothschild's vineyards lie on deep gravel beds (up to 5 metres thick) over marl and limestone. Annual production tops 35,000 cases, although a third of this consists of the second wine called Carruades de Lafite.
Of all the Médoc Grand Crus, Lafite Rothschild can be the most beguiling and difficult to understand. It is never the most powerful, yet, along with Margaux, possesses the most exquisite bouquet of any Médoc wine. It has the elegance, balance and harmony that epitomises claret at its very best.
Composed of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot, the 2017 Lafite Rothschild is deep garnet-purple colored. It opens slowly, cautiously with restrained notes of chocolate-covered cherries, mulberries, warm blackcurrants and wild blueberries, followed by emerging notions of smoked meats, fragrant earth, crushed rocks and lilacs with touches of cast-iron pan and Marmite toast. Medium-bodied, the palate is deceptively light and quite ethereal on entry, growing in the mouth to reveal elegant layers of energetic red and black fruits with tons of savory accents. Framed by exquisitely ripe, wonderfully fine-grained tannins, it has exhilarating freshness and a very long, hypnotically perfumed finish. On a final note, the alcohol here is a jaw-dropping 12.5%, which is something of a miracle considering the ripeness of the Cabernet. A total head-turner, I cannot wait to follow the development of this wine!
97+ points, Wine Advocate (March 2020)
Deep and typical on the nose with blackcurrants, black tea, leather and graphite. The aromas draw you down to the palate. Full-bodied, creamy and beautiful with extremely polished, refined tannins. Yet, it’s powerful and long. Highest percent of cabernet sauvignon ever. Juicy and almost exotic, but very tidy with ripe tannins. Try after 2025 and onwards.
98 points, JamesSuckling.com (December 2019)
During en primeur, the 2017 Lafite-Rothschild was one of the most impressive wines of the Left Bank. Today, it is equally impressive. An ample, richly constituted wine, the 2017 is an unusually dark, somber Lafite, with a percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon that is among the highest ever here. There is a sort of monastic sense of austerity that gives the wine its impression of reserve. Dark cherry, plum, chocolate, licorice, spice and menthol develop in the glass, but it will be many years before it awakens. Readers will have to be patient but there is a lot to look forward to here. Like many of his colleagues, Technical Director Eric Kohler opted for gentle extractions and incorporated a relatively high amount of press wine (16%) into the blend. Those are merely details, though, because the 2017 Lafite is stellar.
96+ points, Vinous (March 2020)
The 2017 Lafite-Rothschild was bottled at the end June 2019, two months prior to my visit to the château. It has a lovely bouquet with blackberry, briary, brine and cedar. Generous, especially for the normally more introspective First Growth. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins that frame the blackberry and bilberry fruit. The acidity is nicely judged and there is a satisfying linearity from start to finish. Classic Lafite-Rothschild in many ways, though it does not have the precision on the bravura finish that singles out a truly great vintage like the 2016. Yet, this will certainly give 20-30 years of pleasure.
95 points, Vinous (February 2020)
The grand vin 2017 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild checks as a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blend that includes just 2.5% Merlot and less than 1% of Petit Verdot, brought up in new French oak. It shows the classy, elegant style of both the vintage and the estate, revealing a ruby/purple hue, complex notes of red and black currants, lead pencil, and cedary herbs, medium-bodied richness and depth, and both present tannins and acidity. It checks in behind the 2015 and 2016 yet is nevertheless a classic Lafite. It will benefit from a decade of bottle age and keep for 30 years or more.
94 points, JebDunnuck.com (February 2020)
This is a youthful tumble of warmed black currant, fig and blackberry paste flavors, entwined with bay leaf, tobacco, savory, lilac, smoldering charcoal and warm cast iron notes. Terrific stony minerality zips everything up for now, but riveting acidity and excellent energy should carry this easily in the cellar. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Best from 2025 through 2040.
96 points, Wine Spectator (March 2020)
This wine is poised, gathering freshness and good acidity in the same structured container as the pure black-currant fruits. With 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine has a classicism about it: fruity and structured at the same time. Drink from 2024.
97 points, Wine Enthusiast (March 2020)
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.