Chateau Lafite Rothschild
Domaines Barons de Rothschild
Jean-Guillaume Prats (CEO)
Annual Production (Grand Vin)
1er Grand Cru classé
Carruades de Lafite
When the 1855 classification was made, Lafite was listed first among the four first growths earning the reputation ‘the first among the firsts’. This moniker has stood the test of time, with modern-day Lafite still commanding more demand and attention globally than it’s first growth counterparts.
Is there a wine brand globally that is held in such high regard amongst oenophiles as Lafite-Rothschild. The name itself immediately evokes grandeur, synonymous with the pinnacle of winemaking that Bordeaux can offer. An aspirational label, one that all wine lovers, new or old, wish to own, visit and taste one day. For over 30 years Lafite went from strength to strength under the stewardship of Baron Eric de Rothschild, where he cemented the brand’s place at the top of the fine wine hierarchy. Ably assisted in the cellars by legendary winemaker Charles Chevalier, the duo delivered a legacy to be immensely proud of. 2017, however, marked a changing of the guard at this historic estate, with Baron Eric’s daughter Saskia de Rothschild taking over the helm as Chairman. At the same time, Jean-Guillaume Prats, an esteemed operator in both Bordeaux (from his time at neighbouring estate Cos d’Estournel) and the fine wine world (as the chief of LVMH’s international wine arm), became the new CEO replacing the outgoing Christopher Salin. Eric Kohler, also took over winemaking responsibilities from Charles Chevalier in 2016 when he became technical director. This triumvirate have overseen a quite excellent trio of vintages, since working together, pointing at an even more exciting future in the modern-era for this legendary estate.
In terms of the total number of ‘perfect-point’ awards from Parker, Lafite is second to none on the Left Bank and second only to Petrus in all of Bordeaux! Among the Old World wine regions, there are a handful of vineyards who will find their tasting notes embellished with the word ethereal. The aforementioned Petrus is one, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti another But even those prestigious names do not resonate amongst the wine world, nor do they echo across oceans, in the way Lafite does.
What is astonishing, is not the number of 100-point ratings the Grand Vin attains, but the consistency of the ratings – in the 16 vintages since 1995, Lafite has an average Parker rating of 96.5! And it’s not just Parker… James Suckling awarded 95.77 and the notoriously difficult-to-please Jancis Robinson rated an average of 18.27(out of 20) across the same period.
Through marriages, inheritances and sales, Lafite changed has hands numerous times over the centuries. Alexandre de Ségur and his son Nicolas-Alexandre were first responsible for the expansion of the vineyard- they maximised the pecuniary power of the estate in the early 18th century. The next generation of the Ségur dynasty was not quite as meticulous with its running of the Châteaux and between 1784 and 1816, the estate was up for sale no less than six times, before falling under the tenure of the Vanlerberghe family. During the half-century period under Dutch ownership, Lafite continued to rise in stature, with the 1855 Classification ranking Lafite as the top Médoc producer, until the death of Aimé Vanlerberghe just over a decade later.
Enter the Rothschilds and nearly a century-and-a-half of flourishing success for Lafite – though it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. The regime has overcome war and economic depression, in addition to the ‘Great French Wine Blight’, in the late-19th century, where more than two thirds of all French vines are estimated to have been destroyed. The estate was even occupied by German forces during WWII, but Baron Elie de Rothschild regained possession in 1945 and Lafite Rothschild has since gone on to attain 100-point Parker ratings for 9 different vintages.