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John Salvi MW
Colour: A deeper colour than the 1961 and at the same stage of evolution, if not a touch younger!
Nose: As we drank this together with the 1961, the comparison was fascinating. Here the strength, depth and density were more immediate and striking. Also it stays that way throughout the time it spends in the mouth and going down the throat. Here we see Cabernet showing its prime characteristics – leather, cigar box etc. Intensely Pauillac also.
Palate: This wine is a sort of Adonis. It has a splendid structure and the flesh on the bones is superbly shapely and elegant. Many preferred it even to the 1961! This wine has harmony, balance, length, fruit, charm, power – everything! Surely this says it all. A very great wine which was magnificent drinking tonight but which will give consummate pleasure for many year to come. At the same time it is a model Lafite of which they can be intensely proud
99 Points Robert Parker
“The 1959 is unquestionably the greatest Lafite-Rothschild that has approached full maturity. It remains to be seen whether vintages such as 1982, 1986, and 1990 will reach a similar height. The super-aromatic bouquet of flowers, black truffles, cedar, lead pencil, and red fruits is followed by one of the most powerful and concentrated Lafites I have tasted. Medium to full-bodied, velvety-textured, rich, and pure, it is a testament to what this great estate can achieve when it hits the mark. This youthful wine will last for another 30 or more years.”
5* Michael Broadbent
“Tasted from magnum. This vintage, for Lafite, deserves the reputation that '61 has. Only the '89 vintage tasted better out of 93 vintages in the tasting. Its hallmark is a minty juniper aroma backed by luscious, rich, elegant flavors of black cherry so ripe and intense that they're almost pruny. Complete and delicious. Drink now through 2005” – 98 points Wine Spectator
This has always been, and remains, one of my favourite Clarets ever. In 2016, I was lucky enough to 'see' it again (i.e. to drink copiously) from a double magnum and it was knock-out gorgeous. Nobility, richness, velvety complexity - it has it all. Beauteous and mouth-coating, it has the aura of eternal life, helped by the large format which infinitely suits a wine of such immense body and opulence. The scent permeates the taste and, I realise, vice versa. Lafite nailed this vintage to a glorious level and experiencing it marks one for life. Serena Sutcliffe, MW WA 99
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”.
The harvest began on 23 September and André Portet notes in the château records that the year gave ‘très grands vins’. 158 tonneaux were made, equivalent to about 190,000 bottles. After destemming, the must was fermented in large oak vats. Temperature was adjusted by either heating some must separately and adding it to a vat, or by pumping cold water into coils piping around the vats. After fermentation the wine was decanted into new oak barrels, coopered at the estate, and aged for about 30 months with racking every three, before being egg white-fined and bottled at the château. Portet and Revelle would have discussed how much press wine to add to the blend, and it is likely that in 1959 very little would have been required.
Bordeaux 1959 was proclaimed the wine year of the century by overzealous journalists. Even though it was an excellent year, it simply was not the best of the century. The year started off with ideal weather conditions. Summer was perfect all the way until the autumn, when the rains came in mid-September. But the rains made way for hot, dry weather, thus setting a magnificent stage for the start of the harvest. The result was a truly ripe and juicy crop. The reds are typically full-bodied, with soft acidity and a fat mouthfeel that comes from the high alcohol content. Even though the vintage is generally compared to 1961, it has much in common with the 1949. The Sauternes vintage was equally a success and the region produced some very long-lived wines. Once again the Château Lafite-Rothschild achieved complete success, sharing the title of best wine of the vintage with the Haut-Brion. Right on their heels is the Pétrus, which should be decanted for at least three hours before drinking, and the La-Mission-Haut-Brion.
Recommended glass shape
Average Bottle Price
|3 289€ +21.7%||2 702€ +4.7%||2 580€ +17.8%||2 190€ -9.9%||2 431€ +20.8%||2 012€ -1.9%||2 050€ -16.4%||2 453€ -34.7%||3 754€ +210.2%||1 210€ +53.2%||790€ +78.3%||443€|