The famous winery is in the north of the municipality Pauillac in the Médoc (Haut-Médoc, Bordeaux). That is directly adjacent to it Château Mouton-Rothschild, The first written mention was made in 1234, when a Gombaud de Lafite is mentioned, an abbot of the Vertheuil monastery in the north of Pauillac. Lafite has been a fiefdom since the 14th century. The name "Lafite" is probably derived from the gas cognitive "la hite", which means "small mountain" or "hill". This is a clear indication of the gentle elevation on which the estate's buildings stand. In the mid-16th century it was owned by the nobleman Joseph Saubat de Pommiers. After his death, his widow Jeanne de Gasq married the notary Jacques de in 1670 ségur (+1691) from the famous noble family and brought Lafite as a dowry. At that time there were already small vine stocks, but it was only between 1670 and 1680 that large vineyards were planted. From a piece of land called "Clos de Mouton" went later Château Mouton-Rothschild out. In 1695, son Alexandre de Ségur took Marie-Thérèse de Clauzel as his wife, heiress of Château Latour, At this point in time, three of the four Premiers Crus, classified in 1855, were owned.
A productive winery has been documented at least since 1707, because it became a bottle with this Vintage designation found. Thanks to greatly improved viticulture techniques, the first successes began in the 1720s. The Lafite wine was marketed abroad (especially England). It was also valued by the English Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745), who ordered a barrel of Lafite (with 225 liters) every three months between 1732 and 1733. It was only later that he became known in Versailles at the royal court. There is a nice story about how it came about. The Marshal Richelieu (1696-1788) a doctor from Bordeaux prescribed the wine as "the best and most pleasant of all tonics" . After a long journey of the Marshal, King Louis XV noticed (1710-1774) after his return that Richelieu "looked 25 years younger than before he left" . He remarked: "I found the famous fountain of youth. The wine from Château Lafite is a fine tonic, delicious and comparable to the ambrosium of the gods of Olympus ” . The royal mistress Madame Pompadour (1721-1764) handed the Lafite wine at her intimate dinners. Her successor Madame du Barry (1743-1793) also preferred this wine.
The estate of the Marquis Ségur was divided between his four daughters after his death in 1755, whereby Lafite and Latour were separated again, but managed together until 1785. Lafite fell to Comte Nicolas Marie Alexandre de Ségur, the son of the Marquis' eldest daughter. The latter sold it in 1784 to his relative Nicolas Pierre de Pichard (+1794), the first President of the Parliament of Bordeaux. Shortly afterwards, the estate was described in an essay as "the most beautiful vineyard in the universe". At that time, the later US President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was ambassador to his country in France and, among other things, collected information about Château Lafite. Finally, the rule of the Ségur family over the estate ended with the execution of Nicolas Pierre de Pichard with the guillotine by the judgment of the revolutionary regime on June 30, 1794.
The property was auctioned off and acquired by the Dutch citizen Jean de Witt, who only kept it for a short time. As a result, there was a constant change of ownership, the owners from 1800 were Baron Jean Arend de Vos Van Steenvwyck, Othon Guillaume Jean Berg, Jean Goll de Franckenstein, Madame Barbe-Rosalie Lemaire (from 1818) and the banker Aimé-Eugène Vanlerberghe (from 1821). However, the latter did not officially appear for tax reasons, but externally this is the banker Samuel Scott. The famous falls in this period Bordeaux Classification in 1855, when the estate was one of the only four to be ennobled as the "Premier Cru". In the absolute (unofficial) order it was even at the top and was considered "the best location of the Médoc, which produces the best wine in the Bordeaux area". The "eternal rival" Château Mouton-Rothschild at that time only received second place "Deuxième Cru".
In 1868, as part of Ignace-Joseph Vanlerberghe's succession, the auction of Château Lafite was announced. But at the first appointment on July 20, there was no offer. The second auction then took place on August 8, the initial bid was 3.25 million francs including the Carruades vineyard. The contract was won by the Parisian banker Baron James de Rothschild (1792-1868) commissioned bidders for the sum of 4.8 million francs including taxes. James was one of the five sons of the dynasty founder Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) and founded the main French line. Incidentally, his son-in-law and nephew Nathaniel de Rothschild (1812-1870), who had been working in his father-in-law's bank in Paris since 1850, had this 15 years earlier in 1853 Château Mouton-Rothschild acquired (allegedly he should also have bid at the Château Lafite auction through a middleman). Rothschild Bank in Paris resided on "Rue Laffitte" - and according to legend, this was one of the reasons for the purchase.
James de Rothschild had been interested for a long time. The first purchase attempt was made in 1830, but was rejected by the then (supposed) owner Samuel Scott. Now it had finally worked 38 years later. The new owner added his own name and called it "Château Lafite-Rothschild". He died only three months later and never saw the estate. He was succeeded by his three sons Alphonse, Gustave and Edmond (1845-1934). The latter revived wine production in 1882 with 60 million gold francs Israel, From the last third of the 19th century, a series of catastrophes occurred. It started with the phylloxera, went on almost seamlessly with the wrong one mildew, then organized fraud with counterfeit Lafite wines, the First World War and the Great Depression in the 1930s.
During the Second World War, the Médoc region was occupied by German troops in 1940. Among other things, the two Rothschild goods were placed under public administration. After the war, the Edmond family grandson Elie Robert de Rothschild (1917-2007) took the lead. He hired the famous oenologist Professor Émile Peynaud (1912-2004) as a consultant. The reconstruction of the dilapidated property went ahead quickly. For the first time in 8048, since the Rothschilds had owned the estate, the shareholders were paid a dividend in 1948. Baron Elie was one of the main characters in the difficult reconstruction of the market. He took part in the tastings in London and in 1950 was a founding member of the "Commanderie du Bontemps du Médoc" (wine brotherhood). In 1953, he fueled the "eternal conflict" between Mouton and Lafite by proposing to exclude Mouton from the "Association of Five" (the four premiers at that time, Crus and Mouton), because this was not a Premier Cru.
The 1955 vintage was a really big wine, but the next year 1956, like many other wineries, brought an enormous setback due to extreme frosts down to minus 35 ° Celsius. But the upswing was unstoppable. In 1975, Elie handed the management over to his nephew Eric de Rothschild (* 1940). This set new impulses and gradually renewed the entire technical team. New plantings were carried out in the vineyards, and improved fertilizers and sophisticated plant protection methods were also introduced. A new, circular wine cellar was built by star architect Ricardo Bofill. In 1994 Charles Chevallier was established as a cellar master. The family business "Domaines Barons de Rothschild" (DBR) expanded considerably through the acquisition of some wineries in Germany and abroad. This includes the Chilean winery Los Vascos in the area Colchagua, See the full history of the two family empires below Rothschild,
The vineyards cover around 100 hectares of vineyards, which are locally divided into three larger areas. These are the vineyards around the Château itself, those near Carruades and a smaller part in St. Estèphe. With a special authorization, the St. Estèphe wines are also considered to be Pauillac wines. The vineyards are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (71%), Merlot (25%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and Petit Verdot (1%). The average age of the vines is 40 years. All younger vines under the age of ten are not for the Grand Vin used. The first secret of the outstanding quality is the floor, these are deep gravel banks on limestone. Other important components are the age of the vines, the restriction of yield from 40 to 45 hectoliters per hectare, the right time for the harvest to vary depending on the variety, strict selection of the grapes, careful peeling, fermentation temperature of no more than 30 ° C and over pumping to extract the dyes. After fermentation, each individual barrel is checked and tasted and only the very best of them are used for the first wine. The second quality goes into the second wine and the third goes into the affordable DBR Collection line
The usual cuvée for the first wine is Cabernet Sauvignon (80-95%), Merlot (5-20%), Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (0-3%). The 1961 vintage, for example, was made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is aged for 18 to 20 months in 100% new oak barrels. The barrels are made in the estate's own cooper shop. There is a constant filling of the barrels to compensate for the shrinkage, as well as a two to three times pouring into clean barrels and a beautiful with beaten protein. After being removed, six barrels are placed in a container to pass through leveling to achieve larger quantities of uniform qualities. The red wine has a bouquet of almonds and violets. 15,000 to 20,000 boxes are produced annually.
The second wine is called "Carruades de Lafite" (formerly "Moulin des Carruades") and is named after a vineyard that was hotly contested around 1845 between the wineries Lafite and Mouton (see under Rothschild ). It has a higher percentage of Merlot and matures in up to 15% new barriques for 18 months. 20,000 to 30,000 boxes are produced annually. In addition to the top wines, the inexpensive “DBR Collection” line has been marketed since 1995. This group, labeled “Réserves des Barons”, comprises the four wines Bordeaux rouge, Bordeaux blanc, Médoc and Pauillac. These are instantly drinkable wines.
To date, Château Lafite-Rothschild has been one of the best and most expensive red wines in the world, and has been almost unbelievably stable for centuries. During a tasting, 36 different vintages were tried and compared back to 1799. The astonishing resume was an even quality of wine and this for a period of over 150 years. Absolutely most expensive wines in the world count two years of the house. For a long time, the record holder was born in 1787, in 1985 with one auction of Christie's was sold for $ 160,000 (£ 105,000). The from Thomas' estate Jefferson (1743-1826) bottle came to the US publisher Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990). The record was broken in November 2010. The auction house Sotheby's In November 2010, Hong Kong sold three bottles of the 1869 vintage for 1.8 million Hong Kong dollars each. That's an incredible $ 232,692.
outstanding vintages of the Château Lafite-Rothschild from earlier times were, for example, 1847, 1848, 1858, 1864, 1869, 1870 (!), 1876, 1899, 1900, 1906, 1926 and 1929. More recently these are the years 1945, 1947, 1949 , 1955, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1982 (100 points from Robert Parker ), 1985, 1986 (100 PP), 1988, 1989, 1990 (100 PP), 1994, 1995, 1996 (100 PP), 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 (100 PP), 2002, 2003 and 2005. Especially the vintages from the 1980s on, some of them did not yet have theirs Climax reached.