x
  • Country ranking ?

    445
  • Producer ranking ?

    12
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    now to 2035
  • Food Pairing

    Grilled Sirloin with Red-Wine Braised Shallots

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 1996

Vintage 1996
The growing season was excellent in 1996, with optimal conditions for the grapes. August was tough, cold, and rainy; drenching the winemakers’ spirits. Fortunately the sun came back in September: these are the three phases of this vintage which produced this rich, dense, structured, and complex wine. Certain enthusiasts find that the “96” evokes the elegance of 1953, and the power of 1959: this vintage lives up to its high praise, and can be cherished for ages!


 

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Average Bottle Price

2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2005 2000 1995
890€ -1.5% 904€ -8.4% 987€ -9.4% 1 089€ +7.3% 1 015€ -36.2% 1 590€ +11.9% 1 421€ +554.8% 217€ +40.9% 154€ +77.0% 87€

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

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Written Notes

The 1996 Lafite Rothschild left no doubt as to who was in charge, at least up until now. It was a lean, mean fighting machine! It was waxy and spiny like the other 1996s, but also elegant city. There was pungent anise to go with emerging cassis and nut aromas. Lit kindling and cedar joined the party in secondary fashion. The palate was super rich – finally a 1996 with upfront density! It was not only rich, but also big and thick in the mouth, and its acidity was clearly the best of the bunch, so fine yet so sharp, as in ‘on point.’ There were green flashes like lantern, and its finish was precise, linear and singular in its greatness (97+).
  • 97p
Very classy stuff, has it all (finesse, richness and length), incredibly complex and deep on the palate, beautifully constructed and with great length. Fantastic effort!
  • 99p

Information

Origin

Pauillac, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Excellent

Value For Money

Satisfactory

Investment potential

Good

Fake factory

There is a possibility

Glass time

2h

Inside Information

"Tasted three times since bottling, the 1996 Lafite-Rothschild is unquestionably this renowned estate's greatest wine. As I indicated last year, only 38 of the crop was deemed grand enough to be put into the final blend, which is atypically high in Cabernet Sauvignon (83 Cabernet Sauvignon, 7 Cabernet Franc, 7 Merlot, and 3 Petit Verdot). This massive wine may be the biggest, largest-scaled Lafite I have ever tasted. It will require many years to come around, so I suspect all of us past the age of fifty might want to give serious consideration as to whether we should be laying away multiple cases of this wine. It is also the first Lafite-Rothschild to be put into a new engraved bottle (designed to prevent fraudulent imitations). The wine exhibits a thick-looking, ruby/purple color, and a knock-out nose of lead pencil, minerals, flowers, and black currant scents. Extremely powerful and full-bodied, with remarkable complexity for such a young wine, this huge Lafite is oozing with extract and richness, yet has managed to preserve its quintessentially elegant personality. This wine is even richer than it was prior to bottling. It should unquestionably last for 40-50 years. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2050. The wine of the vintage?" Robert Parker, 

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Wine Moments

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

99p
 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1996  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"Very classy stuff, has it all (finesse, richness and length), incredibly complex and deep on the palate, beautifully constructed and with great length. Fantastic effort!"

1y 4m ago

99p
 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1996  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"Very classy stuff, has it all (finesse, richness and length), incredibly complex and deep on the palate, beautifully constructed and with great length. Fantastic effort!"

1y 4m ago

97p
 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  Lafite-Rothschild 1996  ( Château Lafite-Rothschild )

"The 1996 Lafite Rothschild left no doubt as to who was in charge, at least up until now. It was a lean, mean fighting machine! It was waxy and spiny like the other 1996s, but also elegant city. There was pungent anise to go with emerging cassis and nut aromas. Lit kindling and cedar joined the party in secondary fashion. The palate was super rich – finally a 1996 with upfront density! It was not only rich, but also big and thick in the mouth, and its acidity was clearly the best of the bunch, so fine yet so sharp, as in ‘on point.’ There were green flashes like lantern, and its finish was precise, linear and singular in its greatness (97+)."

1y 11m ago

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