Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Barrel Sample: 98-100
Barrel Sample: 99-100
It has the precision, the freshness and the sense of effortless elegance that Lafite always conveys with lots of power and depth, deep black fruits on the nose and a mix of spices from rosemary to saffron on the palate.
Is it better than the 2016? It’s hard to say at this stage but it certainly feels its equal, although differently constructed and unlikely to take as long to come around - think 10 rather than 14 years before reaching its drinking window.
It's worth adding that very few wines have been so unmarked by the extremes of the vintage, or as technical director Eric Kohler puts it; 'Even after 25 years of working at Lafite I continue to be full of admiration for this terroir. Other plots that we own reacted to the heat at times, but Lafite just kept sailing on as usual'.
The harvest took place between 17 September and 5 October, with a yield of 40hl/ha. 40% of the production went into the grand vin. 3.75pH which is classic for them.
What will unquestionably be another magical wine from Eric Kohler and his team, the 2018 Château Lafite checks in as 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot, and just a splash of Petit Verdot. It's a classic Lafite that offers a deep purple/ruby color and beautiful notes of crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, tobacco, cedar, and graphite. Flawlessly balanced, full-bodied, and seamless, it's a wine that builds incrementally on the palate, offering incredible finesse, ripe, present tannins, and a great finish. It reminds me of a more elegant version of the 2016 and should be approachable with just 5-6 years of cellaring and keep just about forever. Barrel Sample: 96-98.
Chateau Lafite Rothschild is one of only four classified first growths and thus the designation as 1st er Cru. The vintage rankings of the Universal Paris Exposition in 1855 officially gave Lafite the rating as “Leader among fine wines.” While the first known reference to Lafite dates to 1234 with a certain Gombaud de Lafite, abbot of the Vertheuil Monastery north of Pauillac, Lafite’s mention as a medieval fief dates to the 14th century. The name Lafite comes from the Gascon language term “la hite”, which means “hillock”. There were probably already vineyards on the property at the time when the Ségur family organised the vineyard in the 17th century, and Lafite began to earn its reputation as a great winemaking estate. Jacques de Ségur was credited with the planting of the Lafite vineyard in the 1670s and in the early 1680s. The estate achieved wide popularity in the 1750s when it became the favorite wine of King Louis XV. Thomas Jefferson was also a steadfast customer and even visited the estate. After the 1973-1976 mini-crisis that hit Bordeaux, Baron Eric’s management of the estate made strides forward with a search for excellence and the gradual addition of a new technical team. In 1985 Baron Eric began a tradition of inviting fine-arts photographers to photograph Chateau Lafite. Today, his daughter Saskia de Rothschild represents the 6th generation of the family at the head of the winemaking properties.
The leader on the Left Bank in number of first growth classified producers within its boundaries, Pauillac has more than any of the other appellations, at three of the five. Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild border St. Estephe on its northern end and Chateau Latour is at Pauillac’s southern end, bordering St. Julien.
While the first growths are certainly some of the better producers of the Left Bank, today they often compete with some of the “lower ranked” producers (second, third, fourth, fifth growth) in quality and value. The Left Bank of Bordeaux subscribes to an arguably outdated method of classification that goes back to 1855. The finest chateaux in that year were judged on the basis of reputation and trading price; changes in rank since then have been miniscule at best. Today producers such as Chateau Pontet-Canet, Chateau Grand Puy-Lacoste, Chateau Lynch-Bages, among others (all fifth growth) offer some of the most outstanding wines in all of Bordeaux.
Defining characteristics of fine wines from Pauillac (i.e. Cabernet-based Bordeaux Blends) include inky and juicy blackcurrant, cedar or cigar box and plush or chalky tannins.
Layers of gravel in the Pauillac region are key to its wines’ character and quality. The layers offer excellent drainage in the relatively flat topography of the region allowing water to run off into “jalles” or streams, which subsequently flow off into the Gironde.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the best of these are densely hued, fragrant, full of fruit and boast a structure that begs for cellar time. Somm Secret—Blends from Bordeaux are generally earthier compared to those from the New World, which tend to be fruit-dominant.