Wednesday was quite a day as we headed to the Rothschild family’s English home, Waddesdon Manor, for an impressive Rothschild double header – the 5 wines from the Lafite Rothschilds and 5 wines from the Mouton Rothschilds.
It was a strange feeling – very reminiscent of our usual primeur pilgrimage to the great Châeaux of Bordeaux. It was almost, for just a moment, like a ‘normal’ primeur tasting.
Greeted by the charming French team (on secondment from Mayfair’s Arts Club) a very ‘Bordeaux’ scene was set. Of course all measures had been taken to ensure everyone kept safe and distant, space was not a problem at this fabulous stately home. We tasted first the Lafite Wines – in a beautiful barn like reception room – alone. We then went outside for the Mouton selection before being connected directly with Hervé Gouin from Château Mouton Rothschild for a discussion of the vintage. Next up on screen we had our one-to-one with Jean-Sébastien Philippe, Lafite’s commercial director.
The wines had been drawn from the barrels on Monday morning then flown in by private jet on Monday evening, unaccompanied – and raising some eyebrows with the HM Customs and Excise on arrival! However, the aim to get the freshest possible samples from the cellars – and into the glasses of the UK trade was accomplished. The Rothschilds certainly know how to get things done! And that goes for the wine-making too. Both ‘sets’ were hugely impressive – a delight to taste.
Both camps were rightfully pleased with the results in 2019. These are smart wines. For Hervé 2019 is a cousin of 2009 stylistically – but with a nod to 2015 and 2016. Jean-Sébastien was quite precise in his comparison of the latest releases. ‘Our 2019s have the structure of 2010, the poise of 2016 and the mid-palate weight from 2018.’
There will be less wine this year from Lafite as they lost about 10% of their crop to the damp Spring conditions and they are putting in place a new strategy to hold more stock at the Château for the future.
The Lafite Rothschild wines are coming out on Friday and Mouton Rothschild will follow on Tuesday 9th of June – it will be fascinating to see where the pricing falls, both teams talked of sensitive pricing for a sensitive market – so we remain optimistic. The wines are certainly impressive and very charming.