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Chateau Lafite-Rothschild vertical

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

In the run up to Christmas The Wine Society organised a tasting in London tutored by Charles Chevallier of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. There was a good spread of vintages from the Chateau – 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1995 and 1990 and the event was well organised. Charles Chevallier was tantalising about the much heralded 2009 vintage – which he described it as ‘a very great vintage’ in the making. So I’m sorry if you spent all your money on 2005 – you had better be prepared to fork out again once the 2009 wine is relased to the market in a couple of months time. And what will asking price be? Well a case of the 2005 currently trades for around £8000-£9000 [$12,000-$14000]. My bet is it won’t be much short of that after it hits the market. The 2005 itself at the tasting, did however, prove every bit as good as people have said it is, so it is difficult to imagine that wine being easily trumped by 2009 however good it is.

Notes from the tasting:

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 2005: Deep and saturated in colour; tight to the rim; legs; fabulously sexy nose of ripe fruit, perfume, tobacco and leaf, extremely vibrant; wonderfully integrated oak with sweet blackcurrant fruit; very intense, and very sexy and attractive; has all the hallmarks of this great vintage – perfume, intensity and balance; great depth to the wine on the palate; real intensity here; very long. Later even more perfumed on the nose; lots of extract on the palate but wonderfully soft and ripe tannins. 89% Cab, 10% Merlot and 1% Petite Verdot. Fabulous and near perfect. 98-100  Dec ‘09

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 2004: Deep red/black; earthier than the ’05; more high toned and elegant; blackcurrant; none of the opulence of the previous wine; some meaty qualities; less explosive and complete by comparison but still very good; palate very fine and elegant; lacks body [vintage] and finishes a trifle short. Later the wine opened out further; layers to the nose revealed; good blackcurrants and fine tobacco; layers also to the palate revealed; less immediately appealing than the ‘05 but actually an extremely good wine in a more elegant, cooler vintage. 92-94+/100 Dec ‘09

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 2002: Red black; some graphite and blackcurrant on the nose intense; quite elegant at first but opened up to reveal a meatier edge and stone/mineral quality along with rose petal; not at all bad. Palate still retains elegance and maybe lacks a little depth but fine. Only 33% of production made it into the Grand Vin. 92/100 Dec ‘09

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1999: Deep red black; some maturity on the nose; blackcurrants; feels ‘drier’; some earth and meaty notes; palate well balanced with layers; maybe a trifle short at the back end but this is fine wine – elegant and intense. 92-94+ Dec ‘09

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1997: Mid red/black, some looseness at the rim; graphite and pencil; some game and more roundness to the nose; open fine palate. Elegant wine but without the layered quality of ’05 and ’96. 88-90 Dec ‘09

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1996: Dark black and still tight to the rim; backward looking; long legs; deep and brooding nose; very ripe here; minerals and stone fruits; streak of green coffee beans; lead pencil; later opened up to classic Pauillac, graphite, blackcurrant tobacco and fine herbs; very intense and pent up palate; layers of flavour; powerful blackcurrant fruit with some roast meats. Very good precision on the palate with real intensity here; sappy, good grip and balancing acid. Tannins ripe but of the year. Strong wine. 96-97+ Dec ‘09

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1995: Black red; little looser at the edge than the ’96, blackcurrant and pencils at first; some leaf and tobacco; ripeness here as the wine opens up; very elegant and precise palate with good grip, structure and layers of flavour; attractive and fine. Good stuff; lighter than I’d imagined and some way behind the ’96. 92-94+ Dec ‘09

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1990: Red and mature at edge; slightly dusty nose which lacked interest initially; mature notes but not fantastically complex; some blackcurrant; palate sweet and quite ripe but lacks the intensity and grip of the ’96. Eclipsed by other wines in that vintage. Disappointing considering the vintage. 90/100 Dec ‘09

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