A Snap-shot of the 2014 Vintage by Markus Del Monego MW
2014 had an early start with budbreak around 10 days ahead of the 10 years average. End of May flowering started on the early terroirs in heterogeneous conditions, whereas the later varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon and Franc as well as later terroirs took advantage of a warm and sunny period beginning of June. July and August where quite cool and humid and in the second half of August the vintners prepared themselves for a vintage even worse than 2013 but at the end of August everything changed. A spledid indian summer througout September and October saved the quality. Harvest started for the white grapes started three days later than in 2012 but two weeks later than 2011. For the red grapes the harvest startet with Merlot at the end of September and ended with the Cabernets in the second half of October. The cool climate during summer provides a higher acidity, the indian summer is responsible for the right ripening.
The dry white wines are on a very good quality level showing crisp acidity and ripe flavours. The noble sweet white wines also take advantage of the higher acidity balancing the opulent sweetness. Therefore this vintage seems more on the elegant side. The presentation of red wines depends very much on the grape varietes and terroirs. Overall the red wines are on a higher quality level than the three previous vintages. Saint-Emilion is excellent on the plateau calcaire and shows in general very good wines.
In Pomerol the centre of the plateau was in advantage over the surrounding areas. Fronsac was a very positive surprise for 2014. In the Médoc the southern part proved to be more heterogenous than the northern part, where especially Saint-Estèphe was homogenous and excellent. South of Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan presented a very homogenous picture of a very good quality level with outstanding wines from Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.
One last observation: This vintage digests oak in a great way. The oak is even not obvious in wines with a 100% new oak barrels for maturation. Now there are roughtly twelve month to follow for the maturation of the 2014s untill the bottling in 2016. A lot can happen in this period. Let us see how the wines will present themselves after bottling, it will be a very interesting tasting again. 2014 is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
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”.
Vintage Report by Lafite / Significant rainfall from November to February restored groundwater reserves, which had already been substantially replenished by average or higher than average rain in 2012 and 2013.
Temperatures remained above normal and the vines missed the hearty winter frosts; what we really wanted were about two weeks of crisp mornings with beautiful sunshine, dry cold and no wind. But you cannot control nature! Bud break was early, followed by uniform flowering during the first week of June, spurred on by a rise in temperatures.
As always, the impact of the weather on the vineyard was our primary concern, and our teams worked throughout the year to ensure that the grapes reach maturity in perfect health. The onset of ripening occurred over two periods, first in late July and then again after 15 August, creating differences in the ripeness of the bunches on the same vine.
Some “juggling” was therefore necessary when it came to the harvests, in order to make the best choices; the pickers and sorters were under strict orders to only keep the very best quality red grapes, suited to the production our Pauillac grand vins.
TASTING NOTES (AT BOTTLING):
Beautiful, intense red garnet colour.The nose is complex and fruity, characteristic of 2014, with beautiful floral notes. There is a light toasted note, but the wood is already well integrated. In the mouth, the wine is massive, displaying power and elegance at the same time. Blackberries and blackcurrants again declare a strong presence, and are complemented by the notes of violet and cedar so often found in Lafite’s wines.The palate is fresh, harmonious and very long. There is a pleasant balance between richness and finesse.
To enjoy this wine at its peak, one will have to manage to wait about ten years.