x
  • Country ranking ?

    1 638
  • Producer ranking ?

    19
  • Decanting time

    3h
  • When to drink

    now-2035
  • Food Pairing

    Lamb Loin with Carrot Risotto

Is Lafite the best-performing asset of the noughties?

Is a case of 1982 Lafite Rothschild the best-performing asset of the last decade? A 12-bottle case of 1982 Lafite Rothschild has increased in price by 857% over the last ten years, from £2,613 to £25,000.

The best-performing equity on the LSE (British American Tobacco) increased in price 454% over the same period, while gold prices are up 297%.Overall, fine wine has proved itself one of the top-performing assets of the “noughties” – beating equities, houses, oil, stamps and fine art.

Top assets
 
 *31 December 1999 to 30 November 2009/ **Compound annual growth rate

 

So which wines have seen the largest price increase over the period? As mentioned earlier, Lafite 1982 tops the charts and it comes as no surprise that Lafite dominates the rest of the top ten, taking another five places. (Only includes those wines that are components in the Liv-ex Fine Wine Investables Index)

 Top ten performers

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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 1982

Vintage: 1982 Bordeaux / James Suckling

The 1982 vintage in Bordeaux changed the wine world as well as changed my life. It was the first vintage I tasted from barrel as a young wine writer working for the American magazine The Wine Spectator, and I was amazed how gorgeous the quality of a young red could be from barrel.
I remember the first barrel samples I tasted during the summer of 1983 at Chateau Prieure-Lichine with the late wine author and vintner Alexis Lichine. The wines were so fruity with soft and rich tannins. They seemed too drinkable for a young wine, yet Lichine who had over forty years of experience tasting young wines told me the wines were “exceptional” and “some of the greatest young wines ever produced.”

He had invited some of his winemaking pals from the Medoc to a lunch at his chateau following the tasting. And he kept telling them, which included such names as Bruno Prats (then Cos d’Estournel), Anthony Barton (Leoville-Barton) and Jean-Eugene Borie (Ducru-Beaucaillou) that young writers like myself were the future of the region and that they had to make me understand that 1982 was a great year. He was upset that the New York Times and some other magazines had come out saying that the new vintage was not outstanding do to it seemingly early drinkability.
It was also a time an American lawyer in his mid-30s began writing full time on wine, creating a newsletter called The Wine Advocate. Many say Robert Parker built his career on advocating the greatness of Bordeaux’s 1982 vintage, although he obviously did much more.

More importantly, 1982 vintage marked a big change in the way Bordeaux was produced. It underlined fruit and ripe tannins in reds as well as a slightly higher level of alcohol and lower, or less strong acidity – higher pH. This is what gave the wines such wonderful texture, or drinkability in their youth.
It was a big change from most vintages before 1982 that produced hard and tannic wines that needed years, even decades to soften. The 1982 vintage became a model vintage for red Bordeaux in the future, and arguably for the wine world at large. Think of all the fruit-forward reds that are produced today in the world – for better or for worse. Alcohols are at least two, sometimes three or four degrees higher. Tannins are stronger yet riper. And natural acidities are lower. Chapitalization – adding sugar to the fermenting grape must to increase alcohol – seems a thing of the past.
“Young wines are so drinkable now,” said Alexander Thienpont, the winemaker of Pomerol’s Vieux-Chateau-Certan and Le Pin. The latter made its reputation on early drinkability. “It’s what people expect in a modern wine today.”

I believe some of the change with the 1982 was due to the “California” like growing conditions the Bordelias spoke of at the time. The summer was extremely hot and sunny. The harvest was warm and mostly clear of precipitation. Grape yields were high with many of the best wine properties making more wine per hectare than set by French authorities. In fact, the late Jean Pierre Moueix of Chateau Petrus always told me that the 1982 vintage would have been at the same level as the 1945 or 1949 vintage if yields had been lower.

Yet, the experience of the growing season and harvest in 1982 made a whole new generation of winemakers in the region understand the importance of picking grapes later and riper. They understood early on when wine critics such as Parker and myself as well as members of the US wine trade enthused so much about the 1982 reds from barrel. This also was the beginning of the popularization of barrel scores used to purchase wines.
The US market was the biggest market to buy top notch Bordeaux with the 1982 vintage. It began a decade of intense buying of Bordeaux in the states with consumers buying first growth and second growth as well as Pomerols and St. Emilion. Americans regaled in the wine’s juiciness and beauty. They also made a shit load of money if they held on to the wines in sold them later. For example, most of the first growths sold for about $40 a bottle in 1983 as futures and some are now as much as $3,500 a bottle. Prices for 1982 are down slightly now, but the price appreciation over 30 years is impressive after 30 years.

So is the quality of the wines still for the most part. I am lucky enough to drink top 1982 on a regular basis, and the best ones never cease to amaze me with their generous and complex fruit and polished, ripe tannins. Bottle variation can be a problem because many of the top names have been bought and sold and stored all over the world, but on a whole it is a treat to drink a great 1982. And the vintage always reminds me of my beginnings in the wine world

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Average Bottle Price

2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2005 2000 1995
2 501€ +19.2% 2 099€ -21.8% 2 683€ -2.2% 2 743€ -0.4% 2 754€ -19.3% 3 411€ +58.7% 2 150€ +305.7% 530€ +70.4% 311€ +32.9% 234€

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

27 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Deep, Purple and Pale

ending

Medium, Pure and Round

flavors

Blackcurrant, Blackberry, Pepper, Vanilla, Toasty and Cedar

nose

Opulent, Generous, Refined and Intense

recommend

Yes

taste

Average in Acidity, Warming, Medium tannin, Balanced, Well-Integrated, Well-structured, Developing, Medium-bodied, Focused, Round, Rich, Dry and Too tannic

Verdict

Well-rounded and Full-bodied

Written Notes

Bordeaux was next, beginning with a trio of 1982s.  It’s tough to reconcile how when I started in the business about 20 years ago, the 1961s were in the same spot that the 1982s are now.  They are now the 61s of twenty years ago!  Somehow, it just doesn’t compute, but that’s what it is.  We kept it all Pauillac, and all First Growth, beginning with the 1982 Lafite Rothschild.  The Lafite has always been one of the more elegant ‘82s, and this bottle was clean and lean with long and pleasing, classic qualities.  The pencil and cedar dueled in its nose, and LA Confidential found its ‘perfume longer.’  This was a beauty not a beast, and surprisingly good with a beet dish, although I was dreading the combination.  It actually pushed it from that 95/96 point border to (96).

  • 96p
A vexing and perplexing wine, you want it to be so much more, to express its terroir, to show flashes of the ’59 genius. There is an alluring bouquet of currants, cedar, marzipan and some tobacco. There are dusty tannins, and it seems to lack the depth or complexity of Lafite at its best, or the concentrated appeal of the best 82’s. This is a wine that has not improved with time. There is low acidity, and it is atypically plump and juicy though juxtaposed with intriguing refinement -- but the elements seem not to quite come together. Does it need more time? Possibly. It might need 6 hours of decanting time today, but I am unconvinced that it can marshal its elements for the exceptional performance hoped for. It though remains overall an elegantly rich, attractive 1982, but uninspiring. 91 Points
  • 91p
Lafite Rothschild 1982 97+p Incredibly refined and sophisticated aromas on the nose, aristocratic, fabulous complexity and richness. Simply outstandig wine with 50 years long life.
  • 97p

Information

Origin

Pauillac, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Outstanding

Release state price

42$

Investment potential

Good

Fake factory

Serious

Glass time

2h

Drinking temperature

18C

Inside Information

Chateau Lafite Rothschild ’82 Chinese Counterfeits

One of the major victims of Chinese counterfeiting is the Chateau Lafite Rothschild ’82, a Bordeaux that has gained more popularity in China than in its home country.

The Chinese counterfeit industry has added a new item to its production line: vintage French wine. Impossible to tell a genuine bottle from a fake one, many unsuspecting customers will remain none the wiser until their first sip. And even then, only a connoisseur could taste the difference.

Today, a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild from 1982 can fetch up to 5,400 euros. That means around 5,000 euros of profit per bottle for a resourceful counterfeiter — and there are plenty of those in China. Lucas Botebol, one of the Zhongguo bloggers, estimates that some 70% of the Chateau Lafite sold in the country must be fake due to the fact that the sales numbers vastly outstrip the import figures. “There is more Lafite ’82 in China than was produced in France,” Romain Vandevoorde, head of wine importer Le Baron, told AFP. “So you really have to be wary if you find any of that in China.”

JPEG - 20.3 kb

“A bottle of wine is very easy to replicate,” Sheng Wen*, a wine seller from Shanghai. “The counterfeiters search for original bottles in restaurant trash. Once they’ve got hold of one, they reproduce the label and replicate the bottle. They then buy mid-range bottles of wine from the supermarket, pour them into the fake bottles, and sell them.”

A new penchant for Bordeaux made China and Hong Kong the world’s biggest Bordeaux importers in 2010. Some 33.5 billion bottles made their way into the country, and straight into the dragon’s den of counterfeit expertise. Like any valuable product, it didn’t take long for the fakes to start lining the shelves.

One of the major victims of Chinese counterfeiting is the Chateau Lafite Rothschild ’82, a Bordeaux that has gained more popularity in China than in its home country. Described as “the reference” Bordeaux by Zhongguo Wine, a blog on the Chinese wine market run by two French expats, the price for a bottle shot up by 574% between 2001 and 2010 after sales in China went through the roof.

 

 

 

Wine Advocate #183
Jun 2009
Robert M. Parker, Jr. 97+ Drink: 2014 - 2074 $2100-$8975
This is a denser version of the 1990 that stylistically reminds me of what the young 1959 probably tasted like. Still backward with a deep ruby/plum color revealing only a touch of lightening at the edge, the wine offers up an extraordinary nose of caramelized herbs, smoke, cedar, pen ink, black currants, and earth. The gorgeous aromatics are followed by a full-bodied, plump, rich, fleshy wine with low acidity. With 6-8 hours decanting in a closed decanter, it will offer beautiful drinking, but it needs another 5-8 years to reach full maturity. It is capable of lasting 50-60 years. This classic Lafite is not as fat and concentrated as the 1982 Latour, nor as complex or concentrated as the 1982 Mouton Rothschild, but it is a winner all the same. Release price: ($350.00/case)
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Highlights

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Wine Moments

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

96p
 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1982  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

Bordeaux was next, beginning with a trio of 1982s.  It’s tough to reconcile how when I started in the business about 20 years ago, the 1961s were in the same spot that the 1982s are now.  They are now the 61s of twenty years ago!  Somehow, it just doesn’t compute, but that’s what it is.  We kept it all Pauillac, and all First Growth, beginning with the 1982 Lafite Rothschild.  The Lafite has always been one of the more elegant ‘82s, and this bottle was clean and lean with long and pleasing, classic qualities.  The pencil and cedar dueled in its nose, and LA Confidential found its ‘perfume longer.’  This was a beauty not a beast, and surprisingly good with a beet dish, although I was dreading the combination.  It actually pushed it from that 95/96 point border to (96).

29d 1h ago

91p
 Omar Khan, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1982  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"A vexing and perplexing wine, you want it to be so much more, to express its terroir, to show flashes of the ’59 genius. There is an alluring bouquet of currants, cedar, marzipan and some tobacco. There are dusty tannins, and it seems to lack the depth or complexity of Lafite at its best, or the concentrated appeal of the best 82’s. This is a wine that has not improved with time. There is low acidity, and it is atypically plump and juicy though juxtaposed with intriguing refinement -- but the elements seem not to quite come together. Does it need more time? Possibly. It might need 6 hours of decanting time today, but I am unconvinced that it can marshal its elements for the exceptional performance hoped for. It though remains overall an elegantly rich, attractive 1982, but uninspiring. 91 Points "

1y 3m ago

97p
 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1982  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"Lafite Rothschild 1982 97+p Incredibly refined and sophisticated aromas on the nose, aristocratic, fabulous complexity and richness. Simply outstandig wine with 50 years long life."

1y 4m ago

97p
 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1982  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"Lafite Rothschild 1982 97+p Incredibly refined and sophisticated aromas on the nose, aristocratic, fabulous complexity and richness. Simply outstandig wine with 50 years long life."

1y 4m ago

95p
 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1982  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"I had the good fortune of participating in another tasting two weeks prior in a different continent, the one called Europe. There was a trio of 1982s amongst many other wines one evening in Switzerland, beginning with a 1982 Lafite Rothschild. Spice, cedar, cinnamon and pencil all gave those signature Lafite impressions. It felt a little lighter after the food, and it lacked ripeness, but it was still pretty. This was more elegant and beautifully balanced (95).
"

2y 3m ago

95p
 Georg Linde, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1982  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

""Great, but not extraordinary. Cedar, dried fruits, herbs, sweet but slightly dry finish. But one should not be allowed to complain.""

2y 4m ago

97p
 Ray Thomsen, Wine Writer (Switzerland)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1982  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"Looks much more dark red than the Cheval 1982, it possesses a dark, dense ruby/purple color with only a subtle lightening at the rim. Tight and focused with black fruits intertwined with lead pencil, mineral, and smoky wood scents. Needs time in the glass to open out. Very well balanced and sleek and just middle aged, wine unfolds to reveal extraordinary richness, purity, and overall symmetry in addition to stunning flavor depth and persistence. The finish lasts for nearly a minute. Plenty of tannin in the bottle. Never a wine that is easy to understand. Still to young ??"

2y 6m ago

93p
 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1982  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"Deep ruby. Floral notes, some cassis, licorice, very scented. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, velvety texture, good fruit. Way better after an hour, but, not optimal. "

4y 8m ago

91p
 Juha Lihtonen, Sommelier (Finland)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1982  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"15 wines of the greatest Bordeaux vintage of the new era 1982 tasted, not impressed - is it me or the glasses that are not working"

5y 9m ago

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