Chateau Lafite Rothschild   Lafite Rothschild

1997 Lafite Rothschild

By Chateau Lafite Rothschild

1997 Lafite Rothschild from Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux

Embarking upon the renowned 1997 Lafite Rothschild from Chateau Lafite Rothschild is akin to unravelling the threads of a rich Burgundian tapestry, revealing not just the opulence expected of Pauillac but the nuances characteristic of a vintage that softly defied the expectations of critics. That year was marked by a relatively warm growing season, punctuated with fortuitous spells of rain that bestowed a favourable balance to the vine's struggle and vigour.


A Vintage Distillation of Elegance and Complexity

In my extensive repertoire of Bordeaux tastings, the 1997 vintage from Lafite Rothschild garners particular attention for its delicate interplay between maturity and elegance. Unlike its brethren from more heralded vintages, which posture with bold tannic structures and longevity, the 1997 offering is a complex yet accessible affair. Its bouquet pirouettes gracefully across notions of cedarwood, ripe blackcurrant and a whiff of graphite, so emblematic of Pauillac terroir.

The palate reveals an intricate lattice work of flavours; cassis intertwines with subtler tones of leather and tobacco, harmoniously woven together by seasoned hands. The tannins are resolved yet present, offering a supple framework upon which the wine's narrative unfolds, ending in an elongated finish that retains an aristocratic punctuality.


An Exemplary Candidate for Wine Investment

Contemplating investment potential, one must laud the 1997 Lafite Rothschild for its relative approachability in current drinking windows; a trait that offers an intriguing juxtaposition to the collector accustomed to longer terms of cellarage. It presents as an enchanting proposition to both connoisseur and investor alike – promising not the eternity of its siblings but rather a seasoned maturity, poised on the cusp of its plateau.

Concluding this vignette, I affirm that the 1997 Lafite Rothschild from Chateau Lafite Rothschild merits attention as a distinguished contender within a diversified wine portfolio. Within its liquid depths lie a harmonious blend of distinction and experience—a chronicle in a bottle ready to enchant palates while potentially enriching cellars.

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Scores and tasting notes


At 11-years of age, this has a rather broody nose, with blackberry, tar, a touch of mulberry and boysenberry. Good definition, still youthful. A hint of black olives developing in the glass then overt cedar and sandalwood tones. Medium-bodied on the palate, a slightly looser structure than I was expected, good acidity, silky mouthfeel with briary and a little damson coming through on the quasi-Pomerol like about the finish. Moderate length although it trails off a little on the aftertaste. It remains perhaps the best '97 First Growth. Drink now-2018. Tasted September 2008.

Neal Martin - Wine Journal Jan 2009


Only 26% of the crop made it into the final blend, resulting in only 15,000 cases of the 1997 Lafite-Rothschild. Readers should not ignore this wine because of the negative press surrounding the 1997 vintage. It boasts an opaque dense purple color in addition to a gorgeously sweet, expansive perfume of cedar wood, black currants, lead pencil, and minerals. What follows is a fat mid-palate, medium body, explosive fruit and richness, soft tannin, and a velvety texture. It is a beautiful, compelling Lafite-Rothschild that can be drunk young, yet promises to evolve for 15+ years. Although one of the most forward Lafites ever tasted, it is all the more captivating because of this characteristic. Don't miss it!

Robert Parker Jr - Wine Advocate #128 April 2000


Tasted blind as a vintage comparison at the Valandraud vertical, the 1997 Lafite-Rothschild appears to be a wine that sparkled in its youth, but is not maturing with the grace and style of other vintages after almost 20 years. It has a well-defined bouquet with crushed strawberry, wet sand and light tobacco notes that gradually unfurl. I appreciate the precision here - typical Lafite-Rothschild. The palate is medium-bodied with a gentle grip on the entry, a little foursquare with some dryness towards the attenuated finish. It feels bound together by the fine thread of acidity, yet the long and short of it is that while its descent will be gradual, it will not repay continued bottle ageing. Tasted December 2016.

Neal Martin - The Wine Advocate, 28 February 2017

Vintage performance