2022 Château Lafon-Rochet, St Estèphe, Bordeaux
The 2022 Lafon-Rochet was picked from 12 September and over 10 consecutive days at a fairly leisurely pace since the conditions were so clement. After just one day, the juice was already dark red, so the team were prudent with extraction. Quite classic in style, this offers blackberry, light wild strawberry and iris flower scents. Backward at first, it then opens gradually with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with fine grain tannins. I admire the balance and precision of this Lafon-Rochet, real finesse here and quite a "cool" and refined finish that fans out with a sense of confidence and composure. Bon vin.
Neal Martin, Vinous.com (April 2023)
The 2022 Lafon-Rochet is fabulous. Once again, Lafon-Rochet is the most elegant wine in Saint-Estèphe. There's a bit more richness and mid-palate intensity than in the past, likely a combination of the year and the approach of the new team headed by Technical Director Christophe Congé, who was formerly at Lafite-Rothschild. The 2022 signals a new era for the château that is likely to see a greater focus on selection and a slightly richer style. Even so, the signatures of Lafon-Rochet are evident. It's an exciting time.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (April 2023)
A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc, the 2022 Lafon-Rochet has a pH of 3.77 and a TPI of 83. It has a deep garnet-purple color and after a bit of shaking it erupts with intense scents of fresh blackcurrants, black raspberries, and kirsch, followed by hints of underbrush, camphor and iron ore. The full-bodied palate is concentrated and yet possesses lovely freshness, featuring ripe, grainy tannins and loads of mineral sparks which lift the ripe black fruit to a long finish. Impressive effort for the first full vintage under the new management!
Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Independent (May 2023)
Baked plum, damson, black pepper, edges of cut herbs and dried rose petals, campfire smoke and soot. This is intense but has an aromatic quality that hugs through the palate, and the tannins are plentiful but well controlled. 50% new oak plus some large oak casks, and 400l barrels; almost 60% 1st wine, down from 70% last year (in a better vintage this year, really an indication of the focus on quality under the new team). Harvest September 12 to 27. Eric Boissenot consultant together wtih director Christophe Congé, ex Lafite, in his first full vintage. As of 2024 this will be the first Cru Classé in St Estèphe to be certified organic.
Jane Anson, janeanson.com (May 2023)
Dense and concentrated with dark-fruit and floral notes. Smooth attack then plenty of punch and drive, the tannins fine but present. Tighter tannic frame than in the past. More gravitas.
James Lawther MW, JancisRobinson.com (April 2023)
Wine Advocate (April 2023)
This shows a terrific tannin backbone with blackcurrants and berries. Medium body. Solid fruit. Vivid. 65% cabernet sauvignon, 31% merlot and 4% cabernet franc.
James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (April 2023)
An exceptional wine in 2022. Fresh and fragrant lovely strawberry and red cherry notes on the nose. Smooth and round, generous and deep, a lovely immediate intensity of flavour while keeping a sleek and tense expression. Gorgeous weight in the mouth, supple, and nicely fruited but with density and roundness. Feels really well worked, so defined and detailed, a lovely precision. Nothing feels out of place and it has a very drinkable and approachable quality, still with a dark liquorice and dark chocolate edge and some graphite touches.
Extremely complete and well made with control and finesse. Total acidity: 3.35. 3.77pH.
Georgina Hindle, Decanter (April 2023)
One of the bigger, more structured wines in Saint-Estèphe, the 2022 Château Lafon-Rochet checks in as 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc. Ripe blackcurrants, smoky blue fruits, scorched earth, and chocolate all define the aromatics, and this concentrated, medium to full-bodied, powerful wine has ample mid-palate depth, ripe yet significant tannins, and a great finish. It's not for the instant gratification crowd and is going to need 7-8 years, if not a decade, of cellaring. It's a beautiful wine though, worthy of purchasing and cellaring.
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (May 2023)
About this WINE
Château Lafon-Rochet is a 4ème Cru Classé St-Estèphe estate that has been owned by the Tesseron family since 1959. The property had been neglected and Guy Tesseron extensively replanted, as well as building a completely new château in "chartreuse" style. Today Lafon-Rochet is run by Albert and Michel Tesseron.
Lafon-Rochet's vineyards (Cabernet Sauvignon 56%, Merlot 40%, Cabernet Franc 4%) lie on clay-gravel soils and are superbly sited in the south of the commune opposite Château Lafite. The wines are matured in oak barriques (40% new) for 18 months.
Lafon-Rochet's wines were, for many years, criticised for being excessively tannic and austere and generally were considered to lack charm. In the last decade or so, improved viticultural techniques and a greater percentage of Merlot in the final blend has led to purer expressions of fruit and the wines being generally more supple and elegant. Lafon-Rochet needs at least 10 years of bottle ageing to show at its best.
Saint-Estèphe is the northernmost of the most important communes of the Médoc and borders Pauillac on its southernmost border, with only a gully and stream separates it from Ch. Lafite. To the north lies the Bas-Médoc.
Saint-Estèphe is defined by the depth of its gravel, which is ubiquitous but of varying depths and occasionally very shallow, when clay predominates. This keeps the soil cooler and wetter than its counterparts so that the wines can appear fresh in lighter vintages, but superbly successful in hot, dry years.
The best châteaux in the south of the commune have the deepest soil and the thickest gravel. Cos d'Estournel has an exceptional terroir with its vineyards being located on a south-facing ridge of gravel with excellent drainage.
Saint-Estèphe is the least gravelly of main Médoc communes and in the north of the commune the vineyards are heavier and more clay-based leading to a rustic style of wine being produced.
The wines can appear austere in youth with a discernable ferric note at some châteaux, but the best typically display good depth of colour, pronounced acidity an tannins in youth and are exceptionally long-lived. At their best, they are the equal of almost any Bordeaux. The well-regarded St Estèphe co-operative controls the production of about half the appellation.
Cabernet 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.