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Lafite maintains its lofty seat amongst the great estates of Pauillac. Always high in Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2017 comprises 96% of the variety, which has clearly thrived in the conditions of the year. The quality of the tannins here is exquisite: integrated and mature, they afford the wine a restrained richness. The savoury, graphite scented fruit is poised, and the wine finishes with an effortless weight. As ever, patience will be required.
The 2017 Lafite-Rothschild had been blended in mid-March, a couple of weeks prior to my visit, therefore it was important to let this settle and aerate. Moreover, I returned on my final day in Bordeaux mid-April for a second reading. It feels very aloof at first, even a little green, although that ebbs away with time in the glass to reveal pure blackberry and bilberry fruit, touches of brine, cedar and graphite. Patience discloses a really quite sublime array of aromas. The palate is where all the action is: filigree tannin, very well judged acidity, harmonious and poised with a silky smooth finish that glides across the mouth. It does not possess enormous length but it is very precise and, for want of a better, less clichéd word, classic from start to finish. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 2023 - 2050
Composed of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon with 3.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple colored 2017 Lafite Rothschild is a little shy on the nose to begin, opening out to scents of crushed blackcurrants, black cherries and warm black plums with touches of yeast extract, charcuterie, cigar box and fertile loam plus a hint of iron ore. POW—the paradoxically ethereal, medium-bodied palate hits you with vibrant, exhilarating black fruit and previously latent floral layers, supported with fantastic freshness and super fine-grained, pixelated tannins, finishing with persistent mineral and perfumed layers. Truly. Stunning.
Inky crimson. Dark, savoury black fruit, a little understated in aroma. On the palate, could do with just a little more flesh. It's balanced and not overdone on the tannins but not the standout first growth this year. Elegant but rather underwhelming, perhaps lacking the sweetness and mid-palate depth of Merlot. Tannins very fine. Fresh and really quite soft, textural finesse but rather understated fruit. Savoury graphite finish. (JH) Drink 2027-2040
This is very tight and tannic with lots of blackcurrant and sweet-tobacco character. Firm and powerful tannin texture sets this up for a long and chewy finish, yet it remains very compact and polished. It's a wine that possesses all the hallmarks of Lafite — everything from flavors to structure.
The 2017 Lafite-Rothschild is gorgeous. Silky, nuanced and polished, the 2017 captures all the finesse that makes Lafite such a vaunted property. Even in this unusual vintage, Lafite retains its super classic flavor profile, shape and personality. And that is one of the signatures of truly great sites. Like many of his colleagues, Technical Director Eric Kolher opted for gentle extractions and incorporated a relatively high amount of press wine (16%) into the blend. Those are merely details, though, because the 2017 Lafite is stellar. It also has the potential to be the most complete of the First Growths.
This is delicious, a real take-a-step-back moment. There's a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon here, complex and layered with cassis and bilberry notes that tease the attack before being filled out with charcoal, slate, cedar, and even truffle hints, even at this early stage. The finish just doesn't want to quit. It's effortless but questioning, and most importantly it feels like a Lafite - for me this is a contender for red wine of the vintage. Less intense than 2016, but still just beautiful. 40hl/ha yield, unaffected by frost, or maybe just one tiny corner. 99% new oak. 3.75pH. Drinking Window 2027 - 2045
This is a very quiet and closed Lafite, with tannin and oak blocking the entry. The fruit is compact, very long but gruffly uncommunicative and this is an infuriating wine to taste now. I waited a full half an hour in order to agitate this wine into conversation and it was still stubbornly refusing to cooperate. This is a lean, controlled, introverted wine, as Lafite often is, but it also hints at something fascinating behind the veneer, and I cannot quite get a glimpse of what there is hidden therein. It will blossom, as always, but I am not going to guess at just how demonstrative this vintage will be in the future because there is an outside chance that it will just continue on its current path, quietly evolving and making little fuss.
One peek into Château Lafite's cellar is like entering into the 18th century. Its cobweb-coveredchandeliers subtly light shadowy corridors that play host to hundreds of ancient vintages. Nothing could be more representative of its wine making philosophy - classic, stylish and yet powerful - characteristics that have made it one of the most collectible wines in the world.
Due south of St Estèphe lies the appellation of Pauillac, the king of Left Bank communes. It is home to three first growths as well as a plethora of other classified growths. Pauillac's renowned well-draining, gravelly soils enable its dominant grape Cabernet Sauvignon to reach fantastic heights of complexity and concentration. As a result, Pauilac's wines tend to be full-bodied with compact tannins and good freshness. Its aromatics are often what one associates with classic Bordeaux: pencil shavings, black currant and occasional mint. Some of the most famous châteaux of the commune are Latour, Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Pichon Baron, Pichon Lalande and Lynch Bages.