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2017 1er Cru Classé Pauillac

Grapes Cab Sauv, Merlot, Petit Verdot
Colour Red
Origin France, Bordeaux
Sub-district Haut Médoc
Village Pauillac
Classification 1er Cru Classé

96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.5% Merlot, 0.5% Petit Verdot. Tightly knitted and giving little away at this stage. There is real structure in this claret. The wine has weight, fresh acidity and lovely mouth coating tannins. A hint of dark fruit and oak on the finish. Not the finished article but certainly an impressive first growth in the making. Rating: 96 L&S (Apr 2018)

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The 2017 Lafite-Rothschild had been blended in mid-March, a couple of weeks prior to my visit, therefore it was important to let this settle and aerate. Moreover, I returned on my final day in Bordeaux mid-April for a second reading. It feels very aloof at first, even a little green, although that ebbs away with time in the glass to reveal pure blackberry and bilberry fruit, touches of brine, cedar and graphite. Patience discloses a really quite sublime array of aromas. The palate is where all the action is: filigree tannin, very well judged acidity, harmonious and poised with a silky smooth finish that glides across the mouth. It does not possess enormous length but it is very precise and, for want of a better, less clichéd word, classic from start to finish. Tasted twice with consistent notes. Drinking range: 2023 - 2050 Rating: 95-97 Neal Martin, 2018)

96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.5% Merlot, 0.5% Petit Verdot. Inky crimson. Dark, savoury black fruit, a little understated in aroma. On the palate, could do with just a little more flesh. It's balanced and not overdone on the tannins but not the standout first growth this year. Elegant but rather underwhelming, perhaps lacking the sweetness and mid-palate depth of Merlot. Tannins very fine. Fresh and really quite soft, textural finesse but rather understated fruit. Savoury graphite finish. Drinking range: 2027 - 2040 Rating: 17 Julia Harding MW, 2018)

This is very tight and tannic with lots of blackcurrant and sweet-tobacco character. Firm and powerful tannin texture sets this up for a long and chewy finish, yet it remains very compact and polished. It's a wine that possesses all the hallmarks of Lafite — everything from flavors to structure. Rating: 97-98 James Suckling, The Wine Spectator(Apr 2018)

Eric Kohler, now working alongside the recently arrived Jean-Guillaume Prats at Lafite-Rothschild, says that there was no frost of note here. The spring weather was excellent, the flowering passed without problem, while the 60 mm of rain the vineyard received in September, right at the beginning of harvest, did not help the Merlot. Nevertheless, the conditions afterwards were perfect for the ongoing ripening and harvest of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The harvest ran from September 11th until the 15th for the Merlot, while the Cabernet Sauvignon was picked between the 16th and the 29th, the Cabernet Franc on the 20th, and the Petit Verdot on the 29th. The grand vin took 40% of the crop, while the second wine took the same proportion, and 20% was excluded from either wine. The blend in this vintage is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, which accounts for 96% of the total, well above average, and there are few vintages with figures higher than this (although 2013 and 1994 are candidates). The balance is 3.5% Merlot and 0.5% Petit Verdot. This has a completely different aromatic impact compared to Carruades de Lafite, as here the Cabernet shows much more strongly, unsurprising considering its representation in the blend. The nose is filled with wall-to-wall smoked cherry, with a ripe, dark, red-fruit character, focused, albeit dusted with the same toast and praline oak notes, and it also has a finer floral perfume, with scents of white flower petals and a little chalk. The palate is very serious and convincing, immediately composed, finely structured, with a very fine balance of focused, pencil-drawn structure at its start, wrapped up with gentle red cherries and toasted fruits. The tannins are imperceptible at first, so velvety and tight-knit are they, a style which works well with the fresh acid seam running through the wine. We have here a very fresh, composed, reserved example of Lafite, with impressive potential. It is not a wine of power or weight, unlike some of the other top wines of the vintage, rather one of focused precision and balance, but with a very reassuring tannic substance. Rating: 94-96 Chris Kissack, 2018)

Château Lafite

1855 classification - Premier Grand Cru Classé The long history of Château Lafite includes a period in the 17th and 18th century when it was owned by the Ségur family, who also at the time owned Latour and who's name lives on at Calon-Ségur and Phelan-Ségur. By the time of the 1855 classification which rightly recognised the reputation of Lafite, the estate was under a complicated ownership arrangement which inevitably unravelled, and Lafite was sold to Baron James de Rothschild, largely it would seem to keep uo with his cousin Nathaniel Rothschild who had recently purchased Brane-Mouton (later to become Mouton Rothschild). He died a couple of months later, but his descendents own the estate to this day. Baron Eric, who took control during the 1970's, returned Lafite to its rightful place at the top of the Bordeaux hierarchy with a programme of investment, improvement and modernisation. There are 103ha of land under vine at Lafite, facing Cos d'Estournel across the Jalle du Breuil which marks the border between Pauillac and Saint Estèphe. Indeed, Lafite own a small parcel of vines over the border in Saint Estèphe. Just over 70% is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon with 25% Merlot and smaller portions of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Vines for the grand vin average around 40 years old with none less than 10. Wines are aged in barrels from their own cooperage for aound 18 months. The second wine is Carruades de Lafite which usually features a higher proportion of Merlot in the cuvée.

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