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  • Country ranking ?

    278
  • Producer ranking ?

    14
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    from 2025
  • Food Pairing

    roasted lamb

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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Composed of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon with 3.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Lafite Rothschild is a little shy on the nose to begin, opening out to scents of crushed blackcurrants, black cherries and warm black plums with touches of yeast extract, charcuterie, cigar box and fertile loam plus a hint of iron ore. POW—the paradoxically ethereal, medium-bodied palate hits you with vibrant, exhilarating black fruit and previously latent floral layers, supported with fantastic freshness and super fine-grained, pixelated tannins, finishing with persistent mineral and perfumed layers. Truly. Stunning. Wine Advocate 97-99p

This is very tight and tannic with lots of blackcurrant and sweet-tobacco character. Firm and powerful tannin texture sets this up for a long and chewy finish, yet it remains very compact and polished. It's a wine that possesses all the hallmarks of Lafite — everything from flavors to structure. James Suckling 97-98p

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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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Wine Information

After a rather mild winter, there were two nights of severe frost in the spring, on 26 and 27 April, which inflicted major damage on Bordeaux’s vineyards. Miraculously, Lafite emerged unscathed.
Conditions then became excellent, with higher than usual temperatures and balanced, well-spaced rainfall. Flowering was early, and by mid-June the fruit had set almost two weeks earlier than usual. After some quite heavy rain at the end of June, temperatures remained slightly below average for the rest of the summer. This enabled a slow, steady ripening of the grapes from “mi-véraison” (the middle of the period when the grapes change colour) to mid-September when the harvests began. A final rainy spell from 10 to 20 September disrupted the otherwise perfect weather, without impacting the quality of the grapes. The wines confirmed great potential, revealing a fairly classic character.

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Vintage 2017

Bordeaux 2017 - A year of contrast 

Life isn’t fair and neither is nature. As the earth gets warmer, flowering gets earlier, and the risk of frost damage becomes greater. Not many winemakers can recall the frosts of 1991 first hand, but their legacy is still haunting. When the meteorologists predicted a cold blast on the nights of the 27th and 28th of April, there was a genuine sense of panic. Most with the means deployed bougies, wind turbines, helicopters, lit hay, took whatever measures they could - the rest left it to chance. 

The best protection was provided by nature; proximity to the Gironde and altitude. These by no coincidence at all are the best terroirs. The grand estates of the Medoc such as Leoville Las Cases, Pichon Comtesse and Montrose reported virtually no frost damage at all. Likewise in Pomerol, Chateau Lafleur, Petrus, Vieux Chateau Certan and all the other big names on the plateau of Pomerol were unscathed. There were a few notable casualties such as Cheval Blanc and Figeac, but the damage was far from catastrophic and the resulting wines are both spectacular.

Those situated on low lying vineyards in St Emilion or further away from the Gironde estuary in the Medoc had no natural protection. Here the mercury dipped below the critical level and frost damage was devastating. In places the whole crop was lost. Vignerons had to wait patiently and hope for a second generation bud. In most cases the second generation was futile.

Those partially affected by the frost predominantly lost their least auspicious terroirs and plots planted with young vines, normally designated into second wines and generics. A natural selection if you like… Statistically, 2017 does not make good reading for Bordeaux as a whole; appellations that produce bulk wine were hit hard.  Total output was 3.5m hectolitres, some 40% lower than 2016. However, yields at the top Chateaux are relatively normal and if they are down, it is generally attributed to the small berries caused by the drought conditions in July and August.

 

2017 is best summarised as an early vintage with significant hydric stress. Bud break, flowering, veraison and harvest were all two weeks ahead of the norm. Thankfully there was sufficient rain in June to carry the vines through the drought that was July and August. Average temperatures in July and August were not remarkable, although some Chateaux pointed out that alternating temperatures from warm days to cold days aided ripening. September brought much needed rain and cooler conditions. The nights were particularly cool which helped prevent botrytis and helped retain low pH levels. The latter part of the month saw a return to dry conditions which allowed the Cabernets to attain full maturity.

And what of the wines? Statistics can provide rationalisations, but they can’t tell you what the wines taste like. As Baptiste Guinaudeau says, the 2017s clearly fit into the trilogy of vintages affected by hydric stress, 2015, 2016 and 2017. There is wonderful, refreshing acidity and vitality to the fruit. Alcohol levels very moderate, much like in 2016. The wines are vibrant and aromatic. Due to the small berries, there is good colour and the quality of the press wines is very interesting. As 2017 didn’t have the warmth of 2015 and 2016, they are generally not as broad as their predecessors, however, the key was to extract gently and then use the high quality press wines to fill out the mid-palate. There are scores of successes. Vignerons who have been sympathetic and allowed their terroirs to speak have triumphed. Olivier Berrouet’s Petrus is absolutely outstanding, Chateau Lafleur and Pensees de Lafleur speak of purity and breed, Canon, Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Figeac and Tertre Roteboeuf have all produced worthy successors to their 2015s and 2016s. On the Left Bank, Chateau Margaux is perhaps a class apart, but Mouton Rothschild, Haut Brion, La Mission Haut Brion, Montrose, Pichon Comtesse and Leoville Las Cases are all out of the top drawer, and there are numerous others worthy of mention: Grand Puy Lacoste, Smith Haut Lafitte, Haut Bailly, Leoville Barton, Lynch Bages, Ducru Beaucaillou, Calon Segur, Palmer, Pichon Longueville, Brane Cantenac and Rauzan Segla.

 

One hesitates to use the term ‘classical’ as this expression has been hijacked as a euphemistic idiom for a wash out. 2017 certainly isn’t weak, which will no doubt disappoint those superstitious about vintages ending in seven! There is nothing excessive, they are perfectly mannered, understated yet handsome, rather like a perfectly tailored Saville Row suit. They ooze charm, grace, sophistication and elegance. Some would say they are somewhere between 2014 and 2015, but we didn’t really detect the flamboyance of 2015 in many wines. Perhaps they are more in the image of 2014 with a little bit of the class of 2016. As with the 2016s, there aren’t any real reference points. 2017 is uniquely 2017. Nature has done its own selection, and the results are rather special.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

13 tasting notes

Tasting note

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Written Notes

Deep, dark colour. The nose is still reserved but offers a glimpse of enormous aromatic potential that will be revealed over time. Very fresh, with delicate notes of cedar and mint. Intense and vibrant on the palate, giving the impression of tremendous power still contained. Despite its youth, this wine presents a very harmonious character, in which one can already appreciate the qualities of a great Lafite, combining finesse and concentration.

The 2017 Lafite-Rothschild is another classic wine from this estate that’s in the same mold as the 2015, if not slightly deeper, darker, and more concentrated. Made from almost all Cabernet Sauvignon and offering a gorgeous array of crème de cassis, lead pencil, graphite, and hints of minerality, it’s medium to full-bodied, pure, precise, and as refined and elegant as it gets. It has the supple, approachable style of the vintage and will be relatively approachable in its youth, yet will cruise for three decades on its balance and purity.

  • 96p

Composed of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon with 3.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Lafite Rothschild is a little shy on the nose to begin, opening out to scents of crushed blackcurrants, black cherries and warm black plums with touches of yeast extract, charcuterie, cigar box and fertile loam plus a hint of iron ore. POWùthe paradoxically ethereal, medium-bodied palate hits you with vibrant, exhilarating black fruit and previously latent floral layers, supported with fantastic freshness and super fine-grained, pixelated tannins, finishing with persistent mineral and perfumed layers. Truly. Stunning. 97-99p

  • 98p

Ruby. Blueberries, anise, fruity, some spices, anise, filigree, floral, nuanced, almost delicate nose. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, red berries, anise, juicy, detailed, intense, playful, refined, superb balance, soothing, long. 96-98

  • 97p

Dark purple red with violet hue and almost black core. A very classic style with slightly closed character. Aroma reminiscent of fine red and dark berries, very precise fruit and aromatic expression. Discreet spiciness and roasting aroma in the background. On the palate excellent balance with precise and juicy fruit, ripe velvety tannins, excellent length. 98

  • 98p
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Information

Origin

Pauillac, Bordeaux

Highlights

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