Ex chateau, 2020 release
|Wines are offered subject to remaining unsold. E&OE.|
A candidate for the -wine of the vintage,- the 2008 should have been purchased before it began to soar in value because of the significance of the number 8 in the Chinese culture (denoting good luck). Representing 40% of the production, this blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc offers aromas of high quality unsmoked cigar tobacco, lead pencil shavings, creme de cassis, earth, cedar and asphalt. Full, rich and stunningly concentrated, I doubt it is inferior to the 2010, just more classic as well as slightly more forward and a degree weaker in alcoholic potency (12.5% versus 13.5%). The 2008 should be relatively drinkable in 6-10 years as it is already showing remarkable complexity and breed, and will last for 30-35 years...at the minimum.
The 2008 Lafite Rothschild is one of the most profound young wines I have ever tasted. From a taster's perspective, it is reminiscent of a blend of the 1996 and 2003, but when you compare those vintages analytically, that makes no sense whatsoever. Representing only 40% of the production, this blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc boasts an opaque ruby/purple color (one of the darkest Lafites I have seen in 30 years) as well as an extraordinary, blockbuster aromatic profile of lead pencil shavings, forest floor, black fruits, licorice, and a hint of unsmoked, high-class cigar tobacco. In the mouth, a massive richness is accompanied by a freshness, delineation, nuance, delicacy, and mind-boggling density. Even after three decades of tasting, I am still astonished when tasting such a prodigious wine as this. Full, inky, and rich with creme de cassis and spice box characteristics as well as a length that I stopped measuring after a minute, the wine reveals a sweetness to the tannin and an opulence to the fruit that suggests a hot, sunny vintage, but again, that was not the case. There wasn't a great deal of heat, but there was more sunshine than the negative press reported at the beginning of September. This is a great, great wine. The harvest at Lafite took place between October 1-7 for the Merlot grapes, the Cabernet Franc was picked in mid-October, and the Cabernet Sauvignon between October 7-14 - an unbelievably late harvest for this estate. This wine should evolve for 30-40 years and last 50 or more. As I have indicated before, Lafite's second wine is now one of Bordeaux's finest second wines, and is made very much in the Lafite style. Interestingly, Lafite Rothschild's manager, Charles Chevalier, told me there was not much flavor in the grapes in mid-September, but a month later, after four weeks of extraordinary weather, they believed something profound may have happened given the flavor development. Again, the historically long period between flowering and harvest, and very low yields are part of the secret to the great success of wines such as this.
The 2008 Lafite Rothschild put in a strange showing at the previous horizontal just a few weeks earlier. This bottle is much better. It has a deep color with little ageing on the rim. On the nose there is ample fruit, blackberry and bilberry with notes of pencil lead and sage, but overall there is just more intensity than the previous bottle. The palate is well balanced with fine grain tannin and good density, a facet occasionally lacking in Lafite-Rothschild. There is just a touch of brown sugar and sage towards the finish that fortunately does not attenuate like the previous bottle. This is much more representative and whilst not the best First Growth of the vintage, it certainly shows more sophistication and class even if it does not match its more stellar showings just after bottling. Tasted blind at Farr Vintners’ 10-Year On tasting. 2020 - 2045
The 2008 Lafite-Rothschild, sporting the Chinese "8" character on the bottle, has a very classic, quite austere bouquet with blackberry, cedar and pencil lead, a little more red fruit than I remember from previous bottles. The palate is medium-bodied with light tannin, modest dusty black fruit laced with graphite, although I would be seeking more flesh and body on the finish that tapers too rapidly for me. This Lafite-Rothschild was one of the most impressive wines out of barrel and in the first years but I feel it is now being overtaken by other First Growths. Head winemaker Eric Kohler is making better wines these days. 2018 - 2032
Tasted ex-château and single blind in Southwold. Pick of the First Growth's perchance? The 2008 has a beautiful classic Pauillac nose with pure blackberry, graphite and sous-bois aromas that demonstrates supreme great intensity and delineation. The palate is very structured, complex with very fine and rigid tannins. There is a beguiling sense of symmetry and focus here with great persistency on the finish (which has an almost Saint Julien-like personality). Very sophisticated. Tasted January 2012.
A blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc, this has a very deep, almost opaque purple colour. The bouquet is quite similar to the Duhart: a little sulky and timid at this stage, although it always takes longer to emerge than other Pauillacs. Blackberry leaf, a touch of tobacco and graphite, almost conservative at the moment. After a couple of minutes, those fruits begin to emerge with blackberry, a touch of scorched leather, Xmas cake and all spice. I think there is a lot of complexity here, but it is buried deep within the wine. The palate is very well structured, firm tannins, good acidity and a wonderful crescendo. It really lacquers the palate - this is much more assertive than the coquettish Château Margaux tasted directly before. Very fresh on the finish, subtle vanillary oak, unfurling with the passing minutes. Anyone not allowing this wine ten minutes to open will have missed the point. Outstanding.
This has a very intriguing nose. Already shows complex aromas of currant and crushed berries, with hints of dried flowers. Full-bodied and very chewy, with intense tannins, but polished and velvety. Long and pretty. The finish stays with you a long time
Cabernet Sauvignon 83%, Merlot just 13%.Subtle purplish crimson. Sumptuous nose - almost Mouton-like (whereas Mouton seems to be making a more Lafite-like wine in 2008). Richer and riper than some earlier vintages of Lafite with even a hint of sweetness. Medium tannins and a dry finish but not the ballerina-like lift that I associate with Lafite. Not much lift or real aromatic interest - but perhaps we were too hurried through the tasting room to appreciate its finer points? Both Julia and Steven Spurrier tasting alongside me were more enthusiastic.
Black plum, cassis and black cherry are ripe giving richness on both nose and palate. Rounded
tannins add to the suppleness to the fleshiness yet under all of this sweet ripe fruit there is
freshness a touch of mulberry and bilberry that balances and gives a more elegant feel on the
The mix of cassis, bilberry and black plum has the spice of oak on the nose. Their sweetness gives a voluptuous fleshiness on the palate but there is an underlying fresh streak, bilberry with hints of mulberry and this ensures both elegance and length.
(Cabernet Sauvingon 83%, Merlot 13%, Cabernet Franc 4%.) Purple-black-red, really fine controlled fragrance and purity of blackcurrant fruit on the nose, already textured and layered, still firm on the palate, great depth of fruit, doesn't show the typical Lafite charm, but has both power and breed in perfect harmony, will develop slowly and brilliantly. Drink 2018-40.