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  • Country ranking ?

    1 209
  • Producer ranking ?

    16
  • Decanting time

    45min
  • When to drink

    now
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1870 Chateau Lafite Rothschild: 

5* Michael Broadbent
Ch Lafite One of the all time greats and, at its best, a powerhouse, massively endowed with every conceivable component. In fact, such a powerful and tannic wine that it was virtually undrinkable for half a century. Nevertheless, bottlings varied, and, as always, provenance plays a part. I have had the opportunity to taste, and drink the 1870 Lafite on sixteen occasions starting, however, with an untypical pale and astringent bottle which nevertheless, as if it was conscious of letting the side down, emitted a sweet bouquet which lingered in the glass long after it had been emptied. This was in 1966.

Unquestionably the most magnificent were (and still can be), the Coningham-bottled magnums from Glamis Castle. Of the 48 originally binned in 1878,41 magnums had remained undisturbed until I and a friendly wine merchant in Perth packed them up for a great sale at Christie’s in 1971. Naturally. to make sure that the wine was all right, I opened one at a dinner in the boardroom before the sale attended by a dozen or so wine luminaries. The cork was sound, the level high, the color so impressively deep that it could have been mistaken for a 1970; nose flawless, the bouquet blossoming in the glass. Perfect on the palate too. A lovely drink. Thank goodness the i3th Earl of Strathmore, who had originally bought it, didn’t take to it; it must have been swingingly tannic. Like the 1928 Latour, it took 50 years to become drinkable, It was in 1934 that his lunchtime host asked André Simon, the founder of the Wine and Food Society, for his first reactions to the wines. They ‘evoked memories of Berkshire’, the 1870 Lafite ‘of the Majesty of the Royal Oak’. That’s wine writing for you! No toasty new oak; no gobs of glycerin, oodles of sweet black fruits; awesome...

Then there was a bottle I opened in Sir John Thompson’s cellar at Woodperry House to see if the cork was branded. It was: ‘Pfungst 1870’. A fabulous color, still tannic (in rr,6). Later, also Bordeaux-bottled, this time by Cruse, five bottles 6mm the Ten Broeck mansion in Albany (New York), noted at Heublein pre—sale tastings in 5978 and ‘979. Purchased in 1870), the wine was still in original cases, wrapped in tissue paper on which was printed Cnsse et PUs Fthrs. Each bottle had a glass button on the shoulder embossed Chateau Lafite Grand Vin. They varied, the best being superb. Even those with mid-shoulder levels (caused by cork shrinkage) were surprisingly good. Low-shoulder: oxidised of course. Around the same time a perfect magnum from Woodperry served by Lenoir Jose at a great wine dinner in Houston, and an equally delectable bottle despite being mid-shoulder at the Overton Lafite tasting. Not all were good: an oxidised Day & Watson London bottling, another ullaged and poor Cruse bottling, and even two below-standard magnums at Rodenstock’s Raritaten Weinprobe as recently as 1996. Even the Glamis magnum was high-toned and over the top, its twin better, though with a sour/cheesy tannic finish. Most recently, rising to the occasion, a bottle recorked In 1980: still fairly deep with a fine mahogany-mature edge. Just after decanting, it emitted a deliciously Mouton-like spicy scent. After 30 minutes in the glass it reminded me of Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet: pure eucalyptus on the palate; dqc its fine flavour matching the bouquet, wonderful length, still buoyed up by its original tannins. Last noted at Wilfred Jaeger’s in the hills south of San Francisco, June 2001-  

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The Story

The Château Lafite estate run by the Rothschilds is, with its 100 hectares of cultivated land, the largest of the main Pauillac vineyards.

It is located in the highest part of the area and the view from its château, with its conical towers that appear on the label, takes in the banks of the River Gironde, which flows nearby. The wines are a blend of four different varieties of grape – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Lafite matures slightly earlier than other Premier Cru wines in the region on account of the generous amounts of Merlot used, and it is this that also makes the wine more delicate and subtle than those wines which are completely dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Lafite has a soul, a beautiful, generous, kindly soul. Lafite turns bare earth into heaven. Lafite is harmony, a harmony between man and nature, because without our magnificent winegrowers, nothing would be accomplished.”
Baron Eric de Rothschild 


Of the five Premier Cru wines in the region, Château Lafite to my mind has managed to produce the year’s best wine in many of the top years in 1900th centrury. The times I have spent in the company of a 1934, 1953, 1959, 1982 and 1986 have been unforgettable. And it was then that I always remembered how many wine critics fondly describe Lafite as ‘the perfection of elegance’.

Vineyard soil: fine gravel mixed with aeolien sands on a bedrock of tertiary limestone
Production area: 103 ha
Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon (71%), Merlot (25%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and Petit Verdot (1%)
Average age of vines: 30 years
Harvest method: hand picked
Winemaking: the vinification is nowadays done with all the sophisticated instruments which modern oenology has created. Fermentation takes place in large oak vats in which the musts remain for 18 to 25 days.
Ageing: the wines are aged entirely in new barrels for 18 to 24 months. During this time,the wine is racked 7 times and is fined with the whites of 6 eggs per barrel. Only certain vats are selected to make the Grand Vin, Lafite. The others are used to make the second wine of Lafite, the “Carruades de Lafite”.

 

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Vintage 1870

1870 Château Lafite-Rothschild 100 points / This wine was out of this world – an immortal wine as I then said. My friend had acquired the 1870 Lafite in 1979 at auction for about nine hundred pounds. It was one of 41 famous bottles that had laid untouched in the cellars of Glamis Castle for nearly a decade. The wine had in its time been bottled in Scotland by Coningham and had come to public sale for the first time at Cristie´s auction on June 24th 1971. The selling price was then eighty three pounds.
My notes were then: This Lafite must have been nearly black when it was born, since it still was deep dark red. Nose was most intoxicating – spicy, pure and strongly seductive. A grand tannin was still present, well balanced with the feel of berries and fruits. A very pleasant, majestic and deeply multidimensional wine. I could feel the soft aftertaste in my mouth next morning – and it still lingers in my memory.
Though it sometimes takes more than 50 years for a wine to become drinkable, it was worth the wait at least on this occasion. I´m no longer amazed at all those harsh statements that this wine and vintage still received in the early 20th century. But I wonder what a truly magnificent wine Lafite must have been in the middle of the last century, for it is still one of the very best wines I have encountered – even at the age of 140!

Pn

 

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Average Bottle Price

2016 2015 2012 2011 2010 2005 2000 1995
16 850€ +27.7% 13 200€ +26.3% 10 455€ -18.0% 12 754€ +16.3% 10 965€ +39.8% 7 845€ +72.0% 4 560€ +30.7% 3 490€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Latest Pro-tasting notes

14 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Full, Brick red and Healthy

ending

Medium, Flavorful and Gentle

flavors

Blackberry, Coffee, Earthy, Truffles, Blackcurrant and Mint

nose

Mature, Ripe, Pure and Refined

recommend

Yes

taste

Low in Acidity, Warming, Medium tannin, Perfectly balanced, Balanced, Concentrated, Mature, Medium-bodied, Round, Elegant, Harmonious, Sweet and Silky tannins

Verdict

Intelligent and Sophisticated

Written Notes

Bottle with normal size and filled to mid-shoulder. Looking mature, brick red and healthy. Mature, wide, opulent, ripe and tempting on the nose. The taste is round, elegant, balanced, good texture and multi-dimensional. Medium, gentle, lingering and flavorful. Well made, intelligent and sophisticated. Decanted 15min and recommend drinking now. Costs about 5k€ + per bottle.
  • 96p
The 1870 Lafite Rotschild that followed was a bit anti-climactic to me, although five out of eight tasters preferred it. It had more obvious Cabernet in the nose. There was asphalt and meat, and despite the fact that it was richer than the 1865, it was a bit sweet for me. It got simpler in the glass, and I found it softer than I expected or wanted (93).
  • 93p
Dark, brick red colour. Intense, spicy nose with herbaceous notes, hints of mint, black fruits, and smoke. Intense, medium-bodied palate shows perfumed flavours, good tannic structure and vivid acidity. Earthy and gently spicy finish with dry moderate length. Amazingly energetic wine for its age!
  • 94p

Information

Origin

Pauillac, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Outstanding

Investment potential

Excellent

Fake factory

Serious

Glass time

30min

Inside Information

Wine Advocate #103
Feb 1996
Robert M. Parker, Jr. 96 Drink: N/A $14975-$17010
Except for the 1966 and 1870 vintages of Lafite-Rothschild, these wines were poured on virgin territory on my palate. The other great classics from the last century were remarkable wines, all with original corks, and in extraordinary condition. Their age was authenticated by Michael Broadbent, who is the only person in the world to have the good fortune to have tasted these wines on several occasions. After two disappointing tastings of the immortal 1870 Lafite-Rothschild, the Rodenstock tasting finally provided me a provocative, compelling, profound bottle of this legendary wine. The color is a healthy dark garnet, and the huge nose of freshly sliced celery, mint, cedar, and cassis unfolded quickly, but held in the glass during the 30-40 minutes it remained there before it became just a mere component of my bodily fluids. The wine exhibited sweet fruit, surprising glycerin and opulence for a Lafite, and a sweet, jammy, powerful finish. It is an extraordinary wine! 

The notes for this wine are taken from the description of Series V - Flight A of the 1995 tasting conducted in Munich by Helga and Hardy Rodenstock. Many years after the tasting from which this note derives allegations were made concerning the authenticity of old and rare bottles of wine sold by Hardy Rodenstock to collectors around the world. The matter has been the subject of numerous articles, litigation and at least one book. Mr. Parker believes that the wines served to him at this tasting were authentic so this note and the others from that specific tasting continue to be posted on eRobertParker.com.
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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

100p
 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1870  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"If only he had been present when I had the opportunity to taste Château Lafite 1870 from a Magnum bottle with my friends in London! That wine was out of this world – an immortal wine as I then said. My friend had acquired the 1870 Lafite in 1979 at auction for about nine hundred pounds. It was one of 41 famous bottles that had laid untouched in the cellars of Glamis Castle for nearly a decade. The wine had in its time been bottled in Scotland by Coningham and had come to public sale for the first time at Cristie´s auction on June 24th 1971. The selling price was then eighty three pounds.
My notes were then: This Lafite must have been nearly black when it was born, since it still was deep dark red. Nose was most intoxicating – spicy, pure and strongly seductive. A grand tannin was still present, well balanced with the feel of berries and fruits. A very pleasant, majestic and deeply multidimensional wine. I could feel the soft aftertaste in my mouth next morning – and it still lingers in my memory.
Though it sometimes takes more than 50 years for a wine to become drinkable, it was worth the wait at least on this occasion. I´m no longer amazed at all those harsh statements that this wine and vintage still received in the early 20th century. But I wonder what a truly magnificent wine Lafite must have been in the middle of the last century, for it is still one of the very best wines I have encountered – even at the age of 130!
"

2y 7m ago

93p
 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1870  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"The 1870 Lafite Rotschild that followed was a bit anti-climactic to me, although five out of eight tasters preferred it. It had more obvious Cabernet in the nose. There was asphalt and meat, and despite the fact that it was richer than the 1865, it was a bit sweet for me. It got simpler in the glass, and I found it softer than I expected or wanted (93)."

3y 9m ago

90p
 Juha Lihtonen, Sommelier (Finland)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1870  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"Medium intense, brick red colour.
Evolved, meaty and earthy nose with dried black fruits, dark chocolate and smoky aromas. Lively and evolved palate. Savoury wine with high intensity and good structure. Dried fruits and minerals in lingering aftertaste. Although wine is passed its peak, it shows still a great structure. "

4y 7m ago

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