On the nose, ripe; blackberries, sweet & sour dark cherries, cooked cherries & strawberries & hues of blueberries. Black tea, cola, soft baking spices; vanilla, light clove & cinnamon. Crushed rocks, stones, limestone, turned, moist black earth, tobacco leaf, saddle-wood, soft leather, dry & fresh dark red florals.
The body is medium edging toward full. The tannins pretty well resolved. The ripe fruits show the hot, ripe vintage. Blackberries, sweet & sour dark cherries, cooked cherries & strawberries & hues of blueberries black tea, cola, soft baking spices; vanilla, light clove & cinnamon. Crushed rocks, stones, limestone, tobacco with ash, some graphite, soft medium dark spice, turned, forest floor, powdery but edgy minerals, saddle-wood, soft leather, dry & fresh dark red florals with some violets on the finish.
This showed better with Ribeye. The Ribeye brought out a fuller, richer wine with even more complexity. 9.35-9.4 with the Ribeye. It just missed 9.2 on its own. It’s big brother the 03 “Lafite” is 💯 point Parker wine.
Photos of; Chateau Lafite, their oak vat fermenters, Estate wine and their magnificent barrel room.
Interesting history and producers notes...Lafite Rothschild has a long and interesting history dating back to 1234, even though the property was not in the Bordeaux wine business at that time.
It is has been largely believed that vines were already planted on their terroir. The owner of the estate at the time, Gombaud de Lafite left his mark, his name. Almost 1,000 years after he owned it, the Chateau is still named after him! The vines were probably in existence at Lafite for over a century, it was not until around 1680, the majority of vineyards of what we know of as Lafite Rothschild today were created. This is because on the 1680 estate manifest, there are six mentions of their Bordeaux vineyards. Jacques de Segur, earns credit for cultivating the vineyard as I wrote in my Colon Segur post last weekend. In 1695, Alexandre de Segur married Marie-Therese de Clauzel, heiress to Chateau Latour. So to dovetail that write up, within a generation, the Segur family married into two of the greatest Bordeaux vineyards, Chateau Lafite and Chateau Latour! When their son, Nicolas-Alexandre passed away, Chateau Lafite and Chateau Latour were separated.
In 1797, Chateau Lafite was sold again. In the deed of sale, Chateau Lafite was described as a Premier Cru of Medoc. This is one of the earliest mentions of what we know of today as Lafite Rothschild producing wines of what would later be classified as an 1855 First Growth.
At that time, of Lafite were managed by the Goudal family. The Goudal family were wine historians and were able to read accurate records and details of the viticulture and marketing plans for Chateau Lafite in the estates formative years. The Goudal family gets the credit for creating the cellar and saving many of the oldest bottles that remain in the cold, dark cellars, including their oldest bottle, the 1797 Lafite!
The start of the famous Rothschild family begins in 1744, with the birth of Amschel Meyer. Amschel Meyer began creating his fortune while working as a merchant at “Zum Roten Schild,” which eventually became the family name of Rothschild.
In 1798 his sons were sent to various cities to create their fortunes. Needless to say, his sons all prospered as did their children in turn. This eventually led to them wanting to own a Chateau in Bordeaux. So in 1853, Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild, an English member of the Rothschild family, purchased Chateau Brane-Mouton. As was the custom of the day, the new owner renamed it using his name and Chateau Mouton Rothschild was born.
This was followed in 1868, when James Rothschild, another member of the family purchased Chateau Lafite, which was now a coveted First Growth.
On 8 August, 1868, Baron James d’Rothschild purchased Chateau Lafite, which was sold at a public auction in Paris. It’s assumed, he bought the property for family competitive reasons looking to one up his brother, the owner of Mouton Rothschild. At that time, Mouton Rothschild was only a Second Growth at the time. But, that does not paint the entire picture. The 1855 Classification had not taken on the importance associated with it the we see it today. Plus, buying Lafite was a reasonable investment as the vineyard sold for about 8 times its earning potential.
The actual Chateau is one of the older structures in Bordeaux, as part of the building dates back to the later part of the 16th century. In 1868, the vineyard took up 135 hectares, of which 74 hectares were cultivated with vines. Production was much smaller in those days than it is today as it was between 4,000 and 5,000 cases.
Just three months after the purchase, Baron James d’Rothschild passed away and Chateau Lafite Rothschild became the joint property of his three sons; Alphonse Rothschild, Gustave Rothschild & Edmond Rothschild. Since 1868, Chateau Lafite Rothschild has remained in the hands of the of Rothschild family. The new owners renamed the estate Chateau Lafite Rothschild.
Jumping ahead to the modern age, in 1962, the Rothschild family added to their holdings when they purchased Chateau Duhart-Milon, a Fourth Growth vineyard also located in Pauillac. It was owned by the Casteja family for more than a century, Chateau Duhart Milon suffered from neglect and was in a awful condition. By the time Duhart Milon was obtained by the Rothschild family, the vineyard was down to only 17 hectare which required extensive renovations.
Baron Eric Rothschild, nephew of Baron Elie Rothschild, took over the management of Lafite Rothschild in 1974. Baron Eric Rothschild was part of the fifth Rothschild generation to inherit Chateau Lafite Rothschild. In 1984, the Rothschild family added to their holdings in Bordeaux with the purchase of Chateau Rieussec in Sauternes.
1987 was a difficult vintage, but because that was the year Lafite celebrated the inauguration of their wine new cellar, they had a lot to be excited about.
The new cellars were built under the supervision of Catalan architect Ricartdo Bofill, is both underground and circular, with a vault supported by 16 columns, giving the structure a majestic architectural style. The cellar holds 2,200 barrels, which is about 55,000 cases of wine. The construction took two years to finish and was completed in 1988.
Domaines Baron Rothschild became one of the first Bordeaux properties to invest in South America when they purchased Vina Los Vascos from a Chilean family. The owners of Lafite Rothschild continued expanding their holdings with the purchase of Chateau lEvangile in Pomerol from the Ducasse family, who owned the property for almost 100 years.
The wine making at Chateau Lafite Rothschild was managed by Charles Chevallier, who began his position in 1994. Charles Chevallier was replaced by Eric Kohler in January 2016. 2017 saw another change at the estate when Jean Guillaume Prats replaced Christopher Salin as the President of Domaines Baron Rothschild.
Perhaps, it’s the most refined of the First Growth. The wine, like all First Growth’s takes decades to mature. It has remarkable staying powers. Bottles of 1870 Lafite Rothschild discovered in the Glamis castle remain profound at more than 140 years of age! It is consider by many Master Sommeliers to be the best wine in the world.
Chateau Lafite Rothschild is one of the earliest major Bordeaux estates to bottle their own wine. In 1890, they bottled a large portion of the wine and again in 1906. Part of the estate bottling was due to requests from Negociants who were willing to pay more for Chateau bottled wines. Also, bottling was primarily done to combat piracy. At the time, it was known that merchants in some countries, like Russia were bottling cheap wine and placing labels from Lafite Rothschild on the bottles. The Koch’s famous Jefferson bottles were not the first attempt at counterfeiting.
Prior to 1996, some would say the property had its share of ups and downs. The 1960’s and 1970’s were not great for Chateau Lafite Rothschild. But since 1996, Lafite Rothschild has been producing some of the best wine in their history!
Sadly, only the wealthy can afford to purchase it. Price aside, there is no denying the level of quality. In 2003 Lafite Rothschild produced a wine that is possibly unequaled by the estate at any time in their long history. Hence, my purchase of their 03 second wine. 2009, 2010 and 2016 are not far behind.
Starting in about 2008, Lafite Rothschild became the most collectible wine from Bordeaux. Prices exploded due to demand from China as Chinese businessmen bought them as gifts or bribes depending on you look at it.
The reason this started was Lafite Rothschild paid for product placement on the number one rated Chinese soap opera on television. Characters in that show were pictured enjoying life with Lafite Rothschild and since then demand went through the roof as did priced.
However, Issac Newton had it right when he declared “What goes up, must come down.” Prices for Lafite Rothschild plummeted after 2011. By the difficult 2013, prices were finally starting to hold firm, but many of the vintages that were setting price records on a daily basis had lost close to 50% of their value.
Starting with the 2012 vintage, Chateau Lafite Rothschild began instituting anti-counterfeiting measures. From 2012 forward, to help fight, rampant counterfeiting, the estate places a seal of authenticity on the capsules of both Lafite Rothschild and Carruades de Lafite. The seal features a unique, numbered code that can be checked on their website, to verify if the wine is real.
The 112 hectare vineyard of Chateau Lafite Rothschild is planted to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. This shows a slight change in the vineyard.
While Cabernet Sauvignon remained at 70%, today there is slightly more Merlot, less Cabernet Franc and the Petit Verdot has been added since the mid 1990’s.
Located in the far north of the Pauillac appellation, only the small, Jalle de Breuil stream separates the vineyards from St. Estephe. You could divide the vineyards of Chateau Lafite Rothschild into three sections with 100 separate parcels in all. The estate has close to 50 hectares of vines located close to the Chateau, on both sides of the D2, which offers gentle rises in elevations of up to 27 meters. They also have about 50 hectares vines planted on the plateau in the Carruades sector, where they have two blocks of vines, one of which is inside the vineyard of Chateau Mouton Rothschild. It is interesting to note that even though the parcels in the Carruades sector give their name to the second wine of the estate, those vines are almost always placed in the Grand Vin.
There are also vines adjacent to, and interspersed with the vineyards of Chateau Duhart Milon. The property also consists of a smaller, 4.5 hectare parcel of vines located in the Saint Estephe appellation, “La Caillava”. The vines in St. Estephe are situated not that far from Cos d Estournel, which are located on a larger a parcel known as Blanquet. The vines in Saint Estephe are allowed to be placed into the wine of Chateau Lafite Rothschild because those vines were used to produce Lafite in 1885, at the time of the classification. The vineyards are close to their famous neighbor Mouton Rothschild.
Located just south of the Chateau, the best terroir of Lafite Rothschild has a thick layer of gravel with sand, clay, marl and limestone in the soils with rolling, gravel slopes. The gravel can be as deep as 4 meters in some parcels.
It is important to note that even though their vineyards are in the far north of Pauillac, most of the soil is pure gravel, rocks and stones. With more than 50% of the soil consisting of gravel, that is a large part of the reason Lafite Rothschild has such elegant, feminine textures and that coveted sensation of minerality.
On average, the vines are close to 40 years of age. However, Chateau Lafite Rothschild has much older vines. In fact, they have some vines that are more than 100 years of age planted in the La Graviere section. That small parcel of Merlot vines dates back to 1886. Less than 1% of the vines are that old.
Additionally, they have a small section of Cabernet Sauvignon that dates back to 1922! Other old vines range from 50 to 90 years of age! They also maintain some of the oldest Petit Verdot vines in the Medoc that was planted in the early 1930’s.
At Chateau Lafite Rothschild, between 1% to 1.5% of the vineyard is replanted every year. Vines less than 20 years of age are never included in the Grand Vin.
The vineyard of Chateau Lafite Rothschild is planted to a vine density that ranges from 7,500 to 8,500 vines per hectare. Only organic fertilizers are used in the vineyards of Lafite Rothschild.
During harvest, the goal is not to pick at the maximum level of ripeness. Instead, they are seeking a blend of grapes at differing levels of maturity, which gives the wine its unique textures, freshness, aromatic complexities and elegant sensations.
Lafite Rothschild is the largest of the First Growth vineyards with close to 112 hectares of vines. A large portion of the estate is taken up with stunningly, beautiful landscaping, lakes, trees and parkland.
At one point in time, Chateau Lafite Rothschild produced a dry white, Bordeaux wine that was sold as Vin de Chateau Lafite. The wine was produced from a large percentage of Semillon, blended with a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc. The last vintage for their white wine was 1960. The wine was sold as a generic AOC Bordeaux blanc with a simple, scripted label, black and white label.
Lafite vinification takes place in 66 vats that are a combination of 29 wood vats, 20 stainless steel tanks and 17 concrete vats that range in size from as small as 45 hectoliters up to 123 hectoliters in the concrete and as large as 270 hectoliters for the wood. The wide range of vat sizes coupled with different materials allow Chateau Lafite Rothschild to vinify depending on the needs of each specific parcel and grape variety. The stainless steel tanks and oak vats are used for Cabernet Sauvignon. The Merlot is vinified in the concrete tanks. Malolactic fermentation occurs in smaller, stainless steel tanks that vary in size from 25 hectoliters up to 60 hectoliters. At this point, Chateau Lafite Rothschild does not yet use gravity to move the fruit and juice in the cellar. It’s a good bet that a remodel is coming soon.
The average annual production of Chateau Lafite Rothschild ranges from 15,000 to 20,000 cases of wine per year, depending on the vintage. They of course make this second wine, Carruades de Lafite, which due to the name and association with the Grand Cru, has also become extremely collectible. Carruades de Lafite takes its name from a specific section of their vineyard that is located near Mouton Rothschild. Carruades is actually one of the older second wines in Bordeaux, as it was first produced in the mid 1850’s. About 100 years later during the mid 1960s, the estate reintroduced their second wine naming it Moulin de Carruades. The name was changed again in the 1980’s to Carruades de Lafite.
There is also a third wine which is sold as an AOC Pauillac that is produced from declassified fruit from Lafite Rothschild and Duhart-Milon.
The blend for Chateau Lafite Rothschild changes with each vintage depending on the character and quality of the vintage. Generally speaking, the amount of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend ranges from 80% to 95%. Merlot is usually 5% to 20%. Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot usually varies from 0 to 5%.
— 4 years ago
Quinta do Vesuvio ‘Pombal do Vesuvio’ Douro 2018: Medium-full bodied. Nice balance & structure. Soft tannins. Good acidity. Blackberry. Plum. Tobacco. Chocolate. Earth. Oak. Velvet finish. Consisting of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca & Tinta Amarela, this wine presented a lot of structure & black fruit; a pleasantly fresh and expressive Douro wine leaving you wanted to try more. Great weekend to all! Cheers 🇵🇹🍷 — 20 days ago
Delicious Duoro — 4 years ago
In 1912, Andrew James Symington became a partner in Dow's and today, five members of the fourth generation Symington family own and manage this historic house. 10 Years" indicates an average age – this Aged Tawny Port is a blend of older wines, matured in oak casts. Amber color with aromas of sweet dried fruits, citrus and nutty notes. On the palate sweet ripe fruit, vanilla oak, ending with fig and cacao notes. Smooth, Nice value. Tasting Sample. — 5 years ago
This is a blend of 85% Cabernet & 15% Syrah and grown at an elevation of 2100 feet with an average vine age of 25 years. 50-50% fermentation in oak and stainless steel. At a retail price point of $20, it’s quite good. The tannins are soft and round. It shows a lot of brighter red fruits of dark cherries, strawberries and some blackberries, touch of pepper, crushed rocks and dry top soil, dark red fresh florals, good acidity and nice finish. Producer history and notes...In the early 1990’s, Bruno Prats (Chateau Cos The) and Paul Pontallier (Chateau Margaux) discovered the high caliber of Cabernet Sauvignon being made from Chile’s Alto Maipo region. They partnered Felipe de Solminihac, a renowned Chilean agronomist, oenologist and winemaker in the region. They purchased 45 acres in the 'Quebrada de Macul', considered the heart of the Maipo Valley vineyards and Viña Aquitania was born. In January 2003, Ghislain de Montgolfier (CEO of Bollinger Champagne), became the fourth partner. Good list of French pedigree involved in Aquitania. — 5 years ago
Wine goddess. Would buy again — 9 months ago
Is there anything better than Ribeye & Claret? From my perspective, no. This is the second wine from one of more prestigious Chateaus in St. Estephe. Bordeaux rule number 2, buy the hell out of good producers second wines in very good vintages, like 2005. You’ll get great wines at more affordable prices. Providing, you exercise patience; which is rule number 1. Decanted for 3 plus hours. On the nose, ripe; blackberries, dark cherries, black raspberries, baked strawberries, black plum & cherries pull up the rear. Incense, herbaceous character, anise, scorched dark earth, burnt ambers, anise, baking spices dominated by vanilla, black tea, black cherry cola, loamy dry soils, dry & fresh red florals with violets for days. It’s in a great phase with many years ahead. The body is full and round. The texture has you wanting more. It’s velvety and ripe. Tannins soft and powdery, around 65-70 resolved. The fruits are ripe & ruby...showing the excellence of the 05 vintage. Blackberries, dark cherries, black raspberries, baked strawberries, black plum & cherries pull up the rear. Incense, herbaceous character, anise, scorched dark earth, dry stones, leather, cigar with ash, burnt ambers, anise, baking spices dominated by vanilla, black tea, black cherry cola, loamy dry soils, dry & fresh red florals with violets for days. The acidity is dead on. The length, structure, length & balance is harmonizing like America on the album, “ Horse with No Name.” The long finish is; ruby, rich, elegant, round, beautiful and lasts a minute plus. Beautiful wine. 9.4 with the steak. 9.2 on its own. Photos of; Chateau Cos d’ Estournel, hosting/tasting area, private wine stock and barrel cellar. Producer notes and history...Chateau Cos d’Estournel has a long history in the appellation of St. Estephe. Louis Gaspard d’Estournel, gave his name to the estate after founding it in 1811. It only took a few years before Chateau Cos d’Estournel became famous with wine lovers and royalty all over the world. In the early days, the wines of Cos d’Estournel were not sold through the Negociant system. The owner preferred selling his wine directly to his customers. In fact, Chateau Cos d’Estournel was exported to numerous countries across the globe, with a large portion of the production being sold to India. It was that connection to India that inspired much of the unique, east Indian design we see at Cos d’Estournel today. Chateau Cos d’Estournel was one of the first Chateaus to bottle, label and sell their own wine. This practice continued until the death of Louis Gaspard d’Estournel in 1852. After his death, the estate was purchased by an owner that sold their wines on the Place de Bordeaux, using the negociant system. If the Chateau had not been selling their wines through the negociant system, it would never have been included in the 1855 Classification! Chateau Cos d’Estournel was sold to the Charmolue family, the owners of the neighboring Chateau Montrose. They continued to own the estate until 1917, when it was bought by Fernand Ginestet. The purchase was the next major step in the development of Cos d’Estournel. The next era in the development of Chateau Cos d’Estournel took place in 2000, when Chateau Cos d’Estournel was bought by Michel Reybier, who made his fortune in the food industry. Michel Reybier hired the son of Bruno Prats, Jean-Guillaume Prats to manage Cos d’Estournel. Things improved with the efforts of Jean-Guillaume Prats who helped design the most modern wine making facilities in the entire Bordeaux wine making appellation at the time. A complete renovation of Cos d’Estournel took place in the winemaking facilities and cellars. The wine making facilities are completely modern, using 100% gravity. On October 15, 2012, Jean Guillaume Prats announced he was leaving Chateau Cos d’Estournel to join LVMH. Jean Guillaume Prats was replaced by Aymeric de Gironde. Following the departure of Aymeric de Gironde in 2017, the owner, Michel Reybier took over managing the estate. In 2018, the estate released COS100, produced from their oldest Merlot vines that were 100 years of age. It was limited in production to a 100 Jeroboams, (3 litres) and 10 Balthazars (12 litres) and a few other sizes were produced from only 2 barrels of wine. The proceeds from COS100 go to the charity, Elephant Family, that is devoted to protecting and nurturing Asian elephants in their own, natural habitat. Cos d’Estournel’s new cellar is a joint reflection by the technical team, the architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Jean Guillaume Prats. It’s a marvel blend of simplicity and modern technology. Cos d’Estournel is unique to Bordeaux and the rest of world. What makes this special is that the cellars of Cos d’Estournel are entirely operated by gravity. There are no pumps of any kind to force the wine. The purpose is to allow a gentleness to the wine and improve its purity allowing for expression of their special terroir. It set a new benchmark for cellars not only in the Left Bank, but in all of Bordeaux. The new cellars at Chateau Cos d’Estournel include 72 isothermal cone shaped stainless steel vats. The vats are specifically designed for thermal inertia. The 72 vats have a wide range of capacities to correspond with the needs of each parcel of vines. The vats range in size from as small as 19 hectoliters all the way up to 115 hectolitres. 12 of the smaller vats that are designed to handle between 19 and 60 hectoliters that have two levels in each vat. In other words, this offers the technical equivalent of 24 separate vats. Each of the vats are double lined, which allows for more exact and temperature control. None of the vats use interior heat coils. Perhaps the most inventive part of the cellars is the four 100 hectoliter lift tanks or wine elevators that replace the pumps used in the traditional pumping over and racking off processes, which introduce air and often destabilize the marc. From the moment the grapes arrive, everything travels by the flow of gravity. Jean Guillaume Prats called this process a pumpless, pump over. What takes place is, the wine is released from the main vat where the skins remain. By gravity, the juice is then moved into smaller vats which are on wheels. These small vats are sent to the glass elevators where they are moved up one floor and returned back into the vat by gravity to cover the skins. At this point, the process is still unique to Chateau Cos d’Estournel. The wine production of Cos d’Estournel is labor intensive starting the moment the grapes enter their new facility. The berries travel through a tunnel that instantly lowers the temperature of the fruit to 3-5 degrees Celsius. This sudden chilling stops the loss of juice while also slowing oxidation. Next, the grapes are cold macerated at 7-9 degrees Celsius for about a week. Pump overs are done by gravity recycling. The juice from the top of the vat moves to the bottom of the vat entirely by gravity. The fermentation takes place at low temperatures to avoid over extraction or harsh tannins. The 91 hectare vineyard of Chateau Cos d’Estournel is planted to 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The vineyard is located close to the border of Pauillac and Saint Estephe at the southern tip of the Saint Estephe appellation. The vineyard has cultivated 84 hectares of vines. Even though the vineyard has been expanded over the years, the grape varietals planted here have remained consistent. The vineyard, located on the hill of Cos, has gentle elevations of up to 20 meters. On average, the vines are 35 years of age. However, the estate has very old Merlot vines as well, which date back more than 100 years. Part of the terroir is situated on the hill of Cos, which is at a high elevation for the Medoc at 20 meters. Cos d’Estournel is translated from old Gascon speech; which means the hill of pebbles. It describes the terroir along with clay, gravel, sand and limestone soil. However, there is a unique aspect to the soil at Cos d’Estournel, as you find more gravel and less clay here than you do at other neighboring vineyards. Because the fruit is grown close to the Atlantic ocean in a cool climate, Cos d’Estournel is often among the last of the properties in the Medoc to harvest. The vineyard is managed by teams and each team member is given 45,000 vines to look after. The vineyard, which is almost one large block, can be further divided into 72 separate parcels. — 4 years ago