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Bordeaux 2016: Château Lafite-Rothschild

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

Eric Kohler has supervised an impressive set of wines at Château Lafite-Rothschild in 2016. The great qualities of the 2016 vintage are writ large in the wines. The aromatics are beguiling [wonderful freshness and vibrancy] and the tannins succulent and textured. There is also a delicacy and digestibility to the wines which is attractive. Carruades de Lafite has plenty of vibrant, bouncy fruit. It has real beauty. Château Duhart-Milon is more reserved but with multiple layers and depth. Château Lafite-Rothschild looks to be best of recent years. It is more impressive at this stage than the successful 2014 here. In fact there are echoes of the truly great Lafites in 2009 and 2010, albeit that 2016 appears to be fractionally lighter in body than those two vintages. 

Eric Kolher describes a vintage which was something of a dark horse. He picks up a similar thread to David Suire and Stéphane Derenoncourt who discussed the ‘miracle’ nature of the vintage over in St Emilion. At first a warm spring in Pauillac looked like it would encourage an early bud-break on the vines, but cooler weather delayed the growing cycle. Much higher than average rainfall caused concern about disease and it looked as though it would threaten flowering, but the window of good weather that opened up in early June allowed for a quick and even flowering. Then the dry, hot weather arrived and the vines had to cope with a lot of water stress, such that the rain that fell on 13 September was very welcome, allowing the growth cycle to be completed without hindrance. The weather that followed was hot and dry until the end of the harvest allowing it to be completed in perfect conditions. The Merlot was harvested between 23-28 September at Lafite and 26-29 September at Duhart. Cabernet came in between 29 September and 12 October at Lafite and between 3-12 October at Duhart.

Price is always something of interest with Lafite [if perhaps academic for many of us]. The first tranche of 2016 Lafite was released at 433 euros a bottle, up 8.3% up on 2015. This translated to around £5500 a case. It has swiftly risen to £6000 since. It perhaps suggests an upward trajectory for other vintages of Lafite [2009, 2010 and 2014]. More analysis can be found here on the Liv-Ex site here.

The following wines were tasted on 3/4/17 at Château Lafite-Rothschild. Hope you find the notes useful.

Château Duhart-Milon, Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2016

Mid depth; earthy purple at edge; beautifully delicate Cabernet perfume; spices; blackcurrants; very accomplished and polished aromatics; real fragrance; beautiful palate; poised and complete; lovely seam of pure Cabernet fruit here; blackcurrants; has genuine delicacy; succulence and texture to the palate; good acidity. Best here since the thrilling 2009 and 2010 combination. Expect this to gain further weight and texture during elévage. [67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot]. Tasted 3/4/17. Drink 2023-2036. 94-95+

Carruades de Lafite, Pauillac, 2016

Mid depth; spicy plum notes; coquettish and pretty; some Cabernet cassis alongside the black fruit Merlot tones; cherry; vibrant; deep palate with very fine length; nicely textured tannin; tight to begin with but opens up during the tasting; lovely extract; beautiful Carruades. Succulent. Textured. Vibrant. [49% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot]. Tasted 3/4/17. Drink 2021-2036. 93-94+

Château Lafite-Rothschild, Premier Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, 2016

Opaque at centre; colour tight to the meniscus; earthy purple; wonderful blackcurrant fragrance; real depth and delicacy; cool; quite taut to start with and needs to unfurl in the glass; graphite; blackcurrant; lovely texture again to the tannins; real depth to the fruit; wonderful length. Lots of delicacy here. Very long. Knocking on the door of 2009, 2010 and 2014. Time will tell. [92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot]. Tasted 3/4/17. Drink 2023-2046. 97-100

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