|France > Bordeaux > Left Bank > Pauillac
Lafite is one of the greatest wines of Bordeaux and particularly popular with Chinese wine buyers. It was one of the four Chateaux originally classed as "First Growths" in 1855 and has been owned by the Rothschild dynasty since 1868. The vineyards are situated in the Northern sector of Pauillac near to Saint Estèphe. Recent changes in mamagement have seen the arrival of Jean-Guillaume Prats - who previously ran Cos d'Estournel so well - and then managed the overseas wine interests of the giant LVMH group. Quality seems to be back to the highest level under wine-maker Eric Kohler who took over in 2015. Eric believes that the 2018 here is in the category of the 2010 and 2016 with a touch of 2009 about it. The yield was 40 hl/ha and the blend is 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot with a pinch of Petit Verdot. Although it was of high quality, most of the estate's Merlot was relegated to the second wine - Carruades Lafite.
The 2018 Lafite Rothschild is blended of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot and has 13.3% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, it needs a fair bit of swirling to unlock intoxicating scents of blackcurrant cordial, baked plums and black cherry compote with an undercurrent of dark chocolate, licorice, cast-iron pan, cedar chest and fertile loam, plus a waft of pencil lead. The delicately crafted, medium-bodied palate is dripping with class, featuring layers of mineral-laced black fruits and exquisitely ripe, singularly Lafite tannins, finishing with epic length and depth. This simply stunning, delicately crafted expression of 2018 with its singularly evocative imprint of Lafite will require a good 7-8 years in bottle, then should continue to inspire awe over the following 40+ years. 2028 - 2068
The 2018 Lafite-Rothschild comes in an embossed bottle to celebrate 150 years of ownership by the de Rothschild family. Typical of this First Growth, there is nothing gaudy or showy on the nose; instead, sensual, almost placid aromas of tobacco and pencil-shaving-tinged black fruit unfold gently in the glass. Less extroverted than the 2018 Mouton, this is sophisticated and cerebral. As I found before, it only gains vigor after 60 minutes. The palate is beautifully balanced with finely chiseled tannins, pure black fruit and those traits of cracked black pepper and sage extant. I once thought it might challenge the 2016 with bottle age, and though I feel that the 2018 is not quite at that level, it is certainly a wine befitting the anniversary. Lafite-Rothschild, masterfully proving how less is more. Drink 2025-2060.
Wow. The aromas are so intense and refined at the same time, offering gorgeous blackcurrant, lead-pencil and orchid character. Such purity of fruit. Sleek and finely polished with a fine cut to the tannins that provide such grace and glamor. Yet, it’s got the power and structure to age for decades. On and on. Try after 2029.
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.
Tasted blind. Savoury, deep. With some exotic notes. Relatively dry for a 2018. But sturdy and pretty impressive! Very youthful. Went down in the glass. 14.5%
Drink 2032 – 2055
pH 3.7. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot, 0.5% Petit Verdot. Barrel sample.
Black core. Introverted dark fruit, almost sour in its dark freshness. Amazing elegance without any apparent sweetness. So dry, so serious but with body and richness in the middle. Classicism and precision. Some rocky/mineral darkness. Paper-fine layers of tannins. Fresh with a power and yet a delicacy at the same time. A dark dry purity. There is a serenity to this wine, it has muscles but is not flexing them. Opens up to riper, richer fruit character. Wonderful harmony and refined length. Could turn out to be my wine of the primeurs tastings. (It did.) (JH)
Deep, opaque ruby in colour. This is perfumed and pure on the nose, with black fruits, star anise, nutmeg and violets. The palate is desceptively powerful, due to unparalleled refinement of the rich, mouthcoating tannins that provide the structure. The fruit can therefore shine through, bursting with creamy cassis and redolent red fruits, laced with cuban tobacco and cedar. The finish is supple and enduring, a true reflection of the best 2018 has to offer.
What will unquestionably be another magical wine from Eric Kohler and his team, the 2018 Château Lafite checks in as 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5% Merlot, and just a splash of Petit Verdot. It's a classic Lafite that offers a deep purple/ruby color and beautiful notes of crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, tobacco, cedar, and graphite. Flawlessly balanced, full-bodied, and seamless, it's a wine that builds incrementally on the palate, offering incredible finesse, ripe, present tannins, and a great finish. It reminds me of a more elegant version of the 2016 and should be approachable with just 5-6 years of cellaring and keep just about forever.
(91 Cabernet Sauvignon, 8.5 Merlot, 0.5 Petit Verdot) | 13.3% alc With a more exuberant stance, which is certainly less classic than 2016, this is a rather shockingly delicious and immediately appealing Lafite. There is some superb depth, amazing graphite notes and even some floral tones here, too. The volume of flavour and freshness is thanks to the gentle extraction. It was important to control everything humanly possible in this vintage and I think that the team here has managed to get a little extra out of their bunches. Controlling temperature and less pumping over meant than this is an extremely interesting wine. It remains a Lafite-shaped wine and the signature is still here, but it is out on a limb in terms of its flavour expression and I happen to like this a lot, as I favour more expressive wines over more reserved ones. Lafite suggested that is was their divine terroir which enabled them to retain the perfect balance which this wine shows and this is the critical reason for its success. Even the small addition of Merlot, planted in 1919 and 1967 played their part! While this is an unusually exciting Lafite on the palate, it is familiarly strict on the finish and so while I venture that this is an atypical creature in the greater scheme of things it will still cast a Lafite-shaped silhouette on your palate in years to come.
The 2018 Lafite-Rothschild was picked September 17-25 for the Merlot and September 25 to October 4 for the Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a very intense bouquet of blackberry, tar, tobacco and graphite aromas. It feels extremely cohesive and harmonious, gaining vigor with aeration over 30 minutes. The pure, refined palate is medium-bodied with an arresting satiny texture, perfect acidity and an undercurrent of cracked black pepper and sage. This is a great Lafite-Rothschild that might end up challenging the 2016, though I concur with winemaker Eric Kohler that it is unlikely to surpass it. The 2018 Lafite-Rothschild is certainly impressive, and at 13.3% alcohol, you will not need so much aspirin the following day. Drink 2025-2060.
A very compact and linear Lafite with a fantastic mouthfeel of intense but ever so refined tannins that draw a straight line through the middle of the wine. It’s full-bodied yet compact with complex character of plums, blackcurrants, cigar tobacco, cedar and hints of hazelnuts and coffee. Salty. Orange zest at the end. Delicacy with power. Richness with softness. Glamorous. Lasts for minutes at the finish.
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.