April 1996, Score: 92-95
The 1995 Lafite-Rothschild, a more typical blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc, harvested between September 18 and October 1, looks to be a great Lafite in the making. Only a minuscule 30% of the harvest was chosen for Lafite-Rothschild. For the first time, Lafite did three separate passes through their vineyards, harvesting only the most mature grapes, a la the practice followed in Barsac and Sauternes to make sweet wine. The 1995 Lafite displays outstanding color saturation, a blossoming, elegant, intense nose of smoke, roasted nuts, spices, and red and blackcurrants. The wine reveals sweetness and outstanding richness, as well as Lafite’s remarkable ethereal weightlessness and finesse, smooth tannin, and exceptional length. Different from anything else I tasted in Pauillac, it is a compellingly elegant example of Lafite. Given the wine’s intensity and tannin (there is no heaviness or bitterness), it will require a decade of cellaring and will keep for 30-35 years. I am very high on this wine and feel it will easily be the qualitative equivalent of Lafite’s 1990, 1989, and 1988.All of the wines in this segment were tasted between March 19 and March 28 in Bordeaux. Most of the important wines from both the 1994 and 1995 vintages were tasted three separate times during my ten-day stay in Bordeaux. Drink: 2006-2031.
This dark purple-colored 1995 displays the quintessentially elegant Lafite style in both the aromatics and flavors. Subtle lead pencil, black currant, and cedary notes emerge from the wine’s bouquet with coaxing. In the mouth, it is beautifully knit, medium-bodied, suave, and elegant, with no intention of being flamboyant and/or over-sized. This is a textbook, classic Lafite-Rothschild that should reward 10-20 years of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2035. Last tasted 1/97. Drink: 2008-2035.
Because Lafite-Rothschild (1) tends to lack the weight of many wines of the northern Medoc, and (2) is never a flashy, ostentatious style of wine, it is often more difficult to evaluate when young than some of its neighbors. This dark purple-colored 1995 displays the quintessentially elegant Lafite style in both the aromatics and flavors. Subtle lead pencil, blackcurrant, and cedary notes emerge from the wine’s bouquet with coaxing. In the mouth, it is beautifully knit, medium-bodied, suave, and elegant, with no intention of being flamboyant and/or over-sized. This is a textbook, classic Lafite-Rothschild that should reward 10-20 years of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2035.
The 1995 Lafite-Rothschild (only one-third of the harvest made it into the final blend) is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc. The wine was showing spectacularly well when I tasted it in November, 1997. It exhibits a dark ruby purple color, and a sweet, powdered mineral, smoky, weedy cassis-scented nose. Beautiful sweetness of fruit is present in this medium-bodied, tightly-knit, but gloriously pure, well-delineated Lafite. The 1995 is not as powerful or as massive as the 1996, but it is beautifully made with outstanding credentials, in addition to remarkable promise. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2028.
Château Lafite Rothschild
One peek into Château Lafite’s cellar is like entering into the 18th century. Its cobweb-coveredchandeliers subtly light shadowy corridors that play host to hundreds of ancient vintages. Nothing could be more representative of its wine making philosophy – classic, stylish and yet powerful – characteristics that have made it one of the most collectible wines in the world.
Pauillac, Red Bordeaux
Due south of St Estèphe lies the appellation of Pauillac, the king of Left Bank communes. It is home to three first growths as well as a plethora of other classified growths. Pauillac’s renowned well-draining, gravelly soils enable its dominant grape Cabernet Sauvignon to reach fantastic heights of complexity and concentration. As a result, Pauilac’s wines tend to be full-bodied with compact tannins and good freshness. Its aromatics are often what one associates with classic Bordeaux: pencil shavings, black currant and occasional mint. Some of the most famous châteaux of the commune are Latour, Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Pichon Baron, Pichon Lalande and Lynch Bages.