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Château Lafite Rothschild is one of the most renowned wine properties in the Médoc. Owned by Baron Eric de Rothschild and Lafite Rothschild is also one of the largest Médoc estates. The vineyards of Ch. Lafite are found at the northern tip of the Pauillac appellation, just below the boundary with St. Estephe. There is evidence of an estate on this site as far back as the 14th century, and of exports of wine to the UK in the early 17th century. The current owners, the Rothschilds of the famous banking dynasty, bought the property in 1866, but this is a different brand of the family from that which purchased Ch. Mouton-Rothschild. For many years the Rothschilds’ control of Lafite was very much exercised at a distance, compared to the hands-on influence of Baron Philippe at Mouton, but since the Second World War this has changed somewhat, with the current owner, Eric de Rothschild, presiding over an extensive programme of investment in both vineyard and cellar. With a base largely of gravel the vineyard is unsurprisingly dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (71%) with the balance comprising Merlot (25%) Cabernet Franc (3%) and Petit Verdot (1%). Grapes are hand-harvested, and vinified parcel by parcel. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats, after which the wine is run off into barrels, 100% new for Lafite itself, a mixture of new and one-year-old barrels for the second wine. The Grand Vin volume varies greatly according to the vintage, but is frequently less than half the total crop, and is usually no more than 20,000 cases. The second wine, Carruades de Lafite, has a slightly higher percentage of Merlot than Lafite and is in consequence more approachable in youth. Up to 30,000 cases are made. Wine deemed not worthy of inclusion in Carruades is sold off as generic Pauillac. Throughout the 20th century Lafite was dogged by periods of inconsistency, often producing sublime wines but also failing to live up to its billing in other years. Since 1994, however the estate has been under the control of Charles Chevallier, and he has brought about not just an admirable level of consistency but has also been responsible for some truly brilliant wines often vying for the title of “Wine of the Vintage”. In style thw wines of Lafite are often described as having a perfumed elegance and finesse, to contrast with the more masculine power and structure of Latour or the more exotic and intense flavours of Mouton. What is sure, however, is that at its best it represents a hedonistic experience for the consumer, and has the ability to age, in great years, for minimally 50 years and often longer.
A violet perfume drifts from the 2009 Carruades de Lafite, immediately suggesting its elegance. This has great depth and layer upon layer of concentrated fruit, beautifully balanced by ultra ripe, almost powdery tannins. A wonderful freshness defines the wine whilst the concentrated dark fruit merges seamlessly into a long, black cherry finish. Put simply, this is the best Carruades we’ve ever tasted.
"The 1990 is a ripe, rich, well-textured, yet elegant, mouth-filling style of Lafite. The wine possesses excellent richness, a hint of the unmistakable Lafite perfume of minerals, cedar, graphite and red fruits, medium to full body, moderate weight, admirable richness and overall balance....It should turn out to be a 40-to 50 year Lafite....Anticipated maturity: 2008-2040." 92/100 points. (Robert Parker - Bordeaux - 2003 Edition)
Case price (12)
Case saving £712.08
There are few, if any, more beautiful wines in Bordeaux than Ch. Lafite. The ethereal finesse, the lacy tannins, the intense, pure fruit and feminine delicacy; they are all there in this lovely wine. It is beautifully silky with coffee, spice and cedar notes, and a long seductive finish. Elegant, seductive and multi-dimensional it has the firm tannins typical of the vintage and a lovely harmony. With only 40% of the crop going into the Grand Vin, General Manager Charles Chevalier has done what he has to maintain the exceptional Lafite quality in 2006.
Case price (12)
Case saving £1,098.48
Bottle 12 x 75cl
Bottle 6 x 75cl
Made from 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, the silky, incredibly concentrated and elegant brambly fruit is wonderfully fragrant with lovely minerality and hints of cedar. The super-ripe tannins are accompanied by layer upon layer of fruit alongside a freshness and firm acidity. This slumbering giant will eventually awaken and become one of the most prized of the 2005 treasures. Even so it is utterly compelling now, with each taste like a PhD of Claret, such is its complexity. It may not have the immediate appeal of the legendary 2000 but we were all agreed that it is unquestionably a better wine. One of the wines of the vintage.
Imperial 1 x 600cl
This has a slightly restrained nose at first but it opens up to reveal sumptuous aromas of wild berry fruit, graphite, cassis and plum. A fabulous multi-dimensional texture on the palate fills the mouth and crisp acidity brings perfect balance; great intensity of flavour, exceptional length, and a staggering quality to the abundant tannins; really fine. It is hard to find fault in truth, and worrying to think that we usually find Lafite grows in complexity over the next couple of months, so it will become even better!
There is an almost raspberry hint to the nose of the 2009 Lafite; just a suggestion of the elegance to come. Make no mistake; this is sublime. Rich damson and blackberry fruits merge beautifully on the palate with silky, cashmere tannins that glide over the tongue and then are gone. An ethereal perfume rests in the mouth after the long finish, almost as if one is breathing the wine. Absolutely harmonious, this is a magical wine.
Only 41% of Lafites production made its way into the grand vin in 2002 such is the commitment to quality here. This has an obviously classy perfumed nose with a fresh and appealing purity. This is replicated on the serious palate with its lashings of ripe strawberry and black cherry fruit, new oak and firm tannins. From a relatively restrained start the wine develops beautifully in the mouth, with smoky dark fruit and tobacco hints leading to a firm, long finish. This is a strong candidate for wine of the vintage in 2002.
With succulent, juicy fruit and a gravely minerality throughout, Lafite’s 2008 Grand Vin has the beautiful elegance so typical of this grand chàteau. Its restrained style sometimes shrouds its brilliance at en primeur tastings but the 2008 Grand Vin displays all the qualities of a wine which will develop into a fantastic First Growth: the tannins are ripe and silky, the cassis-laden fruit is intense and fine, and the savoury finish seems endless. Time is required to add flesh to the bones of this Lafite but at its peak it will be stunning.
Case price (6)
Case saving £1,128.48
Magnum 6 x 150cl