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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”.
Bordeaux Vintage Report by Tb / Although 1962 was also a fabulous year, it fell irretrievably into the shadow of 1961. The cold winter, with its biting frosts, ensured that the vines would get a much-needed rest after their hard work in 1961. The growing season started three weeks late. When the vines finally germinated in mid-June, the weather improved. Toward autumn, the weather warmed up measurably, with the resulting dryness eventually having a negative impact on the vines. The few abundant harvests of September came just in time to rescue the grapes from withering on the vine. The harvest, which brought in the largest crop of the 1950s and 1960s, did not begin until 1 October. Few believed that the vintage would be as good as it became. An excellent vintage for dry whites, reds and Sauternes. Where Sauternes are concerned, the 1962 was a considerably better year than the 1961. The best reds were the Cheval Blanc, Pétrus and Mouton-Rothschild. A common characteristic of the finest 1962 wines today is their serene, balanced aspect. Only a few show any real body and complexity, but they work well especially as dinner wines, also due to their excellent availability and affordable price. Even the finest wines should not be decanted for more than an hour.
Recommended glass shape
Average Bottle Price
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