Papa cacas silvis? And would you seriously think the so very famous Pauillac chateau, that still goes by the name of Lafite-Rothschild, would change its label after one hundred & fifty years? of the same label, and one hundred & fifty years of making some of Pauillac’s, France’s, greatest red wine. Well the answer to both, is a big YeS! as the man from Del Monte used to remind us of, now and then.
The adorable Saskia de Rothschild, the current head honcha, put us through our paces t’other day on a Zoombuster and told us at the very end of the chat, that to celebrate 150 years of de Rothschild family making wine at Lafite that she would tweak the label of the 2018 vintage a little with a rather subtle surprise, whilst also producing a splendidly limited edition, 300 copies only, book called The Almanac.
Saskia went on to tell us us “I thought it would be a good idea to imagine something floating in the sky that the women could be gazing at. In 1868, hot air balloons were the absolute symbols of modernity and adventure. In 2018, we still see them fly but they have become the symbol of slowing down, of taking the time to move more steadily and with no rush. Just what we have been doing at Lafi te for 150 years, steadily standing the test of time as we head towards the future.” The bottles will also have the initials ‘CL’ and Roman numerals for ‘150’ engraved on the shoulder.
The book, The Almanac, charts the 150 vintages of Lafite under the Rothschilds, presenting each with various climatic and historical notes from the domain’s archives. Saskia said: “We built this book to tell the story of Lafite since the Rothschild family has owned it, but also to share more stories about the life of a vintage. We hope readers will come out of reading it with a better understanding of how a wine grows, from the soil to the vine and then to the bottle.”
So, dear loyal customer, reader & lover of fine wine & literature. By a miracle I have managed to secure two copies of ‘The Almanac’. Each book comes with a magnum of the 2018, anniversary vintage, of Ch.Lafite-Rothschild (as described above, and two tasting* notes below) which will come available, for two lucky punters, at the end of February 2021.
POA (Price on application) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Two tasting notes on Lafite Rothschild 2018
This is silky and delicious and juicy, not something you can often say about a Lafite En Primeur sample but before you even get close to tasting the wine you can feel the layers building.
It has the precision, the freshness and the sense of effortless elegance that Lafite always conveys with lots of power and depth, deep black fruits on the nose and a mix of spices from rosemary to saffron on the palate. Is it better than the 2016? It’s hard to say at this stage but it certainly feels its equal, although differently constructed and unlikely to take as long to come around, think 10 rather than 14 years before reaching its drinking window. It’s worth adding that very few wines have been so unmarked by the extremes of the vintage, or as technical director Eric Kohler puts it; ‘Even after 25 years of working at Lafite I continue to be full of admiration for this terroir. Other plots that we own reacted to the heat at times, but Lafite just kept sailing on as usual’. The harvest took place between 17 September and 5 October, with a yield of 40hl/ha. 40% of the production went into the grand vin. 3.75pH which is classic for them. 74IPT.
Auntie Jane, here, gave it 98/100 points.
The 2018 Lafite Rothschild is blended of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot and has 13.3% alcohol. The Merlot was harvested September 17-24, the Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested September 25 to October 5, and the Cabernet Franc was harvested on September 24.
It has a deep purple-black color and then WOW—what a nose. It comes sashaying out of the glass with bags of grace and perfume, revealing notions of lilacs, red roses, fragrant soil, cinnamon stick and Morello cherries with a core of blackcurrant cordial, fresh black plums, redcurrant jelly and tapenade plus a waft of iron ore. Medium-bodied, the palate has wonderful, tightly wound layers of black, red and blue fruits intermingled with floral, earth and mineral notions and a rock-solid frame of the most finely pixelated tannins you can possibly imagine.
Anyone who wants to see what I mean when I babble about the Lafite tannins needs to try this benchmark. The finish goes on, and on, and on. If this wine doesn’t get Bordeaux lovers hearts’ racing, nothing will.
Auntie Lisa, above, also gave it 98/100 points.
“Benedictus, Benedicat, per Jesum Christum Dominum Nostrum … Amen”!