2011 Ch. Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac

2011 Ch. Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac

Product: 20118008857
Prices start from £2,895.00 per case Buying options
2011 Ch. Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac

Description

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.
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About this WINE

Chateau Lafite Rothschild

Chateau Lafite Rothschild

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 the 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 for longer.

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Pauillac

Pauillac

Pauillac is the aristocrat of the Médoc boasting boasting 75 percent of the region’s First Growths and with Grand Cru Classés representing 84 percent of Pauillac's production.

For a small town, surrounded by so many familiar and regal names, Pauillac imparts a slightly seedy impression. There are no grand hotels or restaurants – with the honourable exception of the establishments owned by Jean-Michel Cazes – rather a small port and yacht harbour, and a dominant petrochemical plant.

Yet outside the town, , there is arguably the greatest concentration of fabulous vineyards throughout all Bordeaux, including three of the five First Growths. Bordering St Estèphe to the north and St Julien to the south, Pauillac has fine, deep gravel soils with important iron and marl deposits, and a subtle, softly-rolling landscape, cut by a series of small streams running into the Gironde. The vineyards are located on two gravel-rich plateaux, one to the northwest of the town of Pauillac and the other to the south, with the vines reaching a greater depth than anywhere else in the Médoc.

Pauillac's first growths each have their own unique characteristics; Lafite Rothschild, tucked in the northern part of Pauillac on the St Estèphe border, produces Pauillac's most aromatically complex and subtly-flavoured wine. Mouton Rothschild's vineyards lie on a well-drained gravel ridge and - with its high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon - can produce (in its best years) Pauillac's most decadently rich, fleshy and exotic wine.

Latour, arguably Bordeaux's most consistent First Growth, is located in southern Pauillac next to St Julien. Its soil is gravel-rich with superb drainage, and Latour's vines penetrate as far as five metres into the soil. It produces perhaps the most long-lived wines of the Médoc.

Recommended Châteaux
Ch. Lafite-Rothschild, Ch. Latour, Ch. Mouton-Rothschild, Ch. Pichon-Longueville Baron, Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Ch. Lynch-Bages, Ch. Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Ch, Pontet-Canet, Les Forts de Latour, Ch. Haut-Batailley, Ch. Batailley, Ch. Haut-Bages Libéral.

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Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.

In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and  Australia.

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Reviews

Customer reviews

The Wine Advocate90-93/100
Wine Spectator 93-96/100
Parker90-93/100
Decanter18.5/100

Critic reviews

The Wine Advocate90-93/100
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.
Robert M. Parker, Jr. - 26/04/2012 Read more
Wine Spectator 93-96/100
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.
Wine Spectator's 2011 Top-Scoring Red Bordeaux
James Molesworth, Wine Spectator, April 5, 2012 Read more
Parker90-93/100
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.
Robert Parker - Wine Advocate - April 2012 Read more
Decanter18.5/100
Dense black-red, lovely fragrance yet still very firm, a seriously classic Lafite, very long term.
Decanter - Bordeaux 2011 coverage - April 2012 Read more