Chateau Lafite Rothschild

Wine Producers » Chateau Lafite Rothschild

Name: Chateau Lafite Rothschild

Region:  Medoc

Appellation: Pauillac

Classification: First Growth

Average annual production: From 16,000 cases

Grapes (Typical Blend): Cabernet Sauvignon (80-95%), Merlot (5-20%), (0-5%) Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Made by: Charles Chevallier

Owned by: Rothschild family

Second Wine: Carruades de Lafite

A little history: Chateau Lafite Rothschild is one of the oldest estates in the Medoc, with historical reference going back to  Medieval times.  It has survived countless wars, feuds & plunders to reign as one of the most expensive & revered wines in the world.  Part of it’s success, vinous superiority notwithstanding, is down to having many a friend in high places.  Having come into the hands of the Ségur family in the late 17th Century when vines were planted, it became known as the ‘Kings Wine’ thanks to ‘Wine Prince’ Nicholas-Alexandre’s refining of techniques & circulation within the highest echelons of French society. It wasn’t until Thomas Jefferson (the US Ambassador) visited, though, that the wine was propelled onto the global screen. His lifelong appreciation, coupled with doing the rounds in the French courts & with the English predilection for “new French Clarets” (alongside of course the product itself) opened the golden gates for Lafite.  It wasn’t, however all plain sailing: like most Bordeaux chateaux, Lafite was assigned for public use after the Revolution & took a particularly heavy plundering from Nazi occupation during the war, not to mention less man-made attacks from Phylloxera & mildew.  Despite some very good wines been made through these times of strife, it wasn’t until Elie de Rothschild took over the running of things (the Chateau Lafite had been in Rothschild ownership since 1868) post-war in 1945 that fortunes changed for the permanent good: time, money & expertise were poured into the vineyard to hasten its return to former glories, notably being top of the First Growth roll-call.  Elie’s nephew Eric gradually took over the reigns & continues, alongside manager Charles Chevalier, to build upon his Uncle’s legacy.  The estate now even boasts a Weather Station within its menagerie.

Top vintage: 1959, 2005

Surprising hero: 1945, 1990

Interesting fact: Chateau Lafite Rothschild is extremely popular in China, especially with the counterfeiters.. Up to 70% of bottles over there are fake.