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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.
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Bottle 12 x 75cl
This has become one of the finest second wines produced. The 1998 (a blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 4.5% Cabernet Franc, and 1.5% Petit Verdot) is an outstanding effort. While very Lafite-like (although more supple and forward), it exhibits a dense ruby/purple color in addition to an excellent bouquet of black fruits, smoke, earth, and minerals, supple tannin, an excellent texture, and a long, fine finish. Anticipated maturity: now-2015!. (Robert Parker)
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Magnum 6 x 150cl
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.
Bottle 6 x 75cl
Very difficult to assess when very young because of the huge tannic structure and sheer weight of matter on the palate. Very impressive but unyielding, not yet revealing the supreme finesse which is the hallmark of Lafite. Will fascinate for many years to come. The wine has evolved slowly over the past past four years and may not be ready until 2010 at least.
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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.
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!
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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.
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Deep garnet red in colour and incredibly fragrant and fresh, and classy on the nose. Medium to full-bodied on the palate and surprisingly rich with notes of black fruits, mineral and hints of tobacco. Very good grip and a very complete and harmonious wine. Drinking well now and for the next decade or so.
Since I gave this wine a perfect score, I suppose some could see this as a downgrade. I found everything still there for a perfect rating, but I was just struck by how tight and backward the wine was. A blend of 93.3% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot, the wine still has a dark ruby/purple color and an extraordinarily youthful nose of graphite, black currants, sweet, unsmoked cigar tobacco, and flowers. The wine is rich, medium to full-bodied, but has that ethereal elegance and purity that is always Lafite. I originally predicted that it would first reach maturity in 2011, but I would push that back by 5-7 years now, although it has 50-60 years of life in front of it. Owners of this beauty are probably best advised to forget it for 5 years. Tasted next to a 1996 several days after the 2000 tasting, the 1996, which is a perfect wine, was far closer to full maturity than the 2000. Robert Parker - Wine Advocate - Jun 2010
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Imperial 1 x 600cl
A great Lafite which is lush and tissue soft in texture and exhibits unctuously ripe fruit characters of blackcurrants, cream with hints of cedarwood. Deft and enchanting, and certainly one of the wines of the vintage.
D. Magnum 3 x 300cl
Deep ruby/garnet in colour, this wine is as appealing to the eye as it is to the palate. Considerable body and power exuding rich red and black fruits, minerals, and roasted herbs teams with a fleshy, sweet mid-palate. Long and very elegant.
With the 2000 vintage being so glowing, the 1998 vintage can be over looked - and be under priced by comparison.
39% Merlot and 57% Cabernet Sauvignon form the bedrock of the blend of Lafite’s second wine, testament to the fact that the Cabernet was exceptional this year and in consequence most of it has gone into the Grand Vin. The bouquet is deeply plummy with a fair degree of opulence; on the palate there is good depth of soft fruit, very fine tannins, silky texture and impressive length.
Magnum 3 x 150cl
A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot and it’s easy to see that the technical team here think very highly of the quality of their Cabernet this year. Estate Manager Charles Chevallier has confided in the past that he would much rather not show his wine this early as it always benefits from a bit longer in barrel. Whenever I have had the chance to taste the young wine in both April and June I have always been amazed at how much development it undergoes in those extra two months. The bouquet exhibits a piercing purity of cassis and crushed rocks, while on the palate there is an extraordinary precision and finesse. The quality of tannins, in particular, is remarkable, and if the wine puts on weight during maturation, as it always does, then this could be turn out to be a Lafite of enormous refinement and elegance.
98% Cabernet this vintage, which shows in an extremely pure, focused and streamlined nose. Blackcurrant and cassis jumps out, along with a red fruit and floral note, which is matched by a creamy spice from the oak. Very, very elegant. A core of darker fruit on the palate with a touch spice added by the super fine tannins. The freshness of acid works well with the lighter red fruit that come to the fore on the finish. Fine boned, poised and refined as always, this is like your mums porcelain china. More accessible than usual for Lafite but elegance class none the less. Hong Kong Fine Wine Team
Only 39% of production was used for the Grand Vin and with a whopping 90.5% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend (the balance being 9% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot) the 2004 Lafite needed little introduction. This wine has one of the most exciting noses - intense, spicy, pure cassis and a generous helping of creamy vanilla. The palate is just as exciting, exhibiting terrific concentration and a hint of warm new oak which leads to an intense, linear core of lively blackcurrants and layers of intriguing minerality. The Cabernet was very evident on the finish with the variety's characteristically firm tannins taking over at the end, making this one for the long term.
One of the things that makes Ch. Lafite-Rothschild so wonderful is its aethereal, silky finesse and, as this 2007 clearly shows, its famous second wine Carruades de Lafite has this in spades. Soft and approachable yet gracefully austere, floral and refined, the 2007 Carruades has delicate raspberry and plum fruit and finely textured tannins. If you are looking for a monster wine in 2007 then you should probably head elsewhere, but if elegance and balance is your thing then you should definitely snap up a case of this attractive mini-Lafite tout de suite.
A return to elegance and precision is backed-up by a commendably low ABV of 12.6%. Charles Chevallier was more relaxed than ever when he showed us the wine; one senses this is very much his preferred style of Lafite and there was a deftness of touch that only comes with experience, the finest terroir and a non-interventionist approach. With seamless purity and a fine texture, this is a very handsome Lafite. Tom Cave, Cellar Plan Manager
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.
H/Bottle 24 x 37.5cl
Very intense deep garnet colour with a ripe classical nose. Medium to full-bodied on the palate with marvellously silky black fruits and pronouced, velvety tannins. Very intense and very Lafite.