Chateau Lafite-Rothschild is a Pauillac powerhouse, producing wines which command some of the highest prices amongst its First Growth peers. The estate’s history of winemaking can be traced back to the 14th Century, with records of the Lafite wine dating to 1641. Lafite-Rothschild quickly grew a strong reputation for excellence, so much so that its wines were a favourite at the court at Versailles and soon became known as the ‘King’s wine’. Madame de Pompadour, the famous favourite of King Louis XV, would often serve Lafite at her legendary supper receptions.
At the 1855 Bordeaux Classification, Chateau Lafite-Rothschild was ranked as a First Growth. It is the largest of the First Growths, both in terms of area and production, with the estate’s vineyards covering 112 hectares. The property was purchased by Baron James de Rothschild in 1868. Eric de Rothschild presided over the Chateau since 1974 until his daughter Saskia replaced him in recent years.
The estate occupies the northern tip of Pauillac and is close to the border with Saint Estephe. It’s well drained vineyards have excellent exposure, with soils made up of fine, deep gravel mixed with aeolian sand on a subsoil of tertiary limestone. The vines have an average age of 39 years, however Lafite-Rothschild do no use vines younger than 10 years old in their Grand Vin. For their top wine, the estate uses predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon – between 80-90% in the blend – along with some Merlot and smaller additions of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Lafite-Rothschild also produce a second wine, Carruades de Lafite, which contains a higher percentage of Merlot which helps to make it more approachable in its youth.
Lafite-Rothschild is considered to be the most elegant wine in Pauillac. The approach to winemaking is traditional at Lafite-Rothschild and is based on a strict control of yields, manual harvests, and numerous tasks that are carried out by hand all through the year. The grapes from each plot are fermented in separate vats to preserve the identity of the terroir. The wine spends 18 to 20 months in 100% new barrels, all of them coming from the Domaine’s cooperage, with a special “toasting” that is suited to the characteristics of the wine.