x
  • Country ranking ?

    338
  • Producer ranking ?

    16
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    2020-2035
  • Food Pairing

    Beef

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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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Vintage 2020

In Bordeaux, the heat resulted in early flowering. Also, this led to an early harvest after a very hot summer. As a starting point, there is great maturity in the grapes, and one can expect a more opulent vintage than in the last few years.

The summer this year has been the warmest since 1959, yet the rain has fallen at the right times during the growing season. The harvest took place two weeks before the norm and will yield grapes with high potential alcohol and the lowest acidity since the 2003 vintage. As they say in Bordeaux: "It has been a good and extreme growing season which hopefully also produces great wines".

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

Classic Lafite with a soft, almost effortless entry” and a “long lingering finish”.

  • 99p

Displaying a deep purple-black color, the 2020 Lafite Rothschild takes a little swirling and coaxing to unlock scents of freshly crushed blackcurrants, boysenberries and spiced plums, followed by emerging nuances of red roses, raspberry preserves, underbrush and unsmoked cigars, with a waft of cedar chest. The medium-bodied palate is an exercise in elegance and finesse, featuring tightly wound layers of red and black berries and loads of mineral sparks, framed by finely grained tannins and well-poised tension, finishing with fantastic length and the most stunning perfume. Magnificent achievement. This 2020 is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, coming in at 12.8% alcohol and a pH of 3.9.

Saskia de Rothschild, chairwoman of Domaines Barons de Rothschild, began by saying, “We had to do a lot of reorganization with the pandemic. It was a very precocious vintage. In mid-March, we had to plan ahead and control the vegetative cycle that had already started. The warm spring and the bouts of rain meant there was a lot of organizing to control the mildew. We had to train the cellar teams to learn which shoot to choose in shoot thinning.” The mildew situation early in the 2020 growing season coupled with the unprecedented COVID lockdown restrictions posed a challenge. Although Lafite is not certified organic, they have been practicing organic methods and are planning to enter into the official organic conversion period (a period of three years) from this year. “We want to consider each vineyard an ecosystem,” Saskia said. “We want to be able to do more. Even with cover crops, for example, or massal selection—it is a collection of practices that give the best expression of terroir.” Like everywhere in Bordeaux in 2020, Pauillac entered a period of extreme drought from mid-June to mid-August. “In mid-August, we finally had a lot of rain in Pauillac,” Technical Director Eric Kohler explained. “One hundred millimeters (about four inches) came down. It was a godsend. We had lower alcohol, but we had very intense flavors. The wine is a paradox: it is powerful, but not heavy. We would rather have a lack of ripeness than over-maturation. I think this is the first time we have such contrasts—wines so different from the climate. The rains meant we kept the balance and freshness.” 96-98p

  • 98p
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Information

Origin

Pauillac, Bordeaux

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