Château Lafite Rothschild
1000 Years and the Leader of Fine Wines
Known as one of the most famous Château’s and the most expensive wines in the world, Château Lafite Rothschild located in Pauillac in the Gironde department in Aquitaine, France was established by Gombaud de Lafite an Abbot of a monastery in 1234.
The Segur family planted the vineyards and purchased the property with Jacques de Segur taking care of them and being credited for the plantations in the 16th century.
His heir Alexandre married the heiress of chateau Latour and they united as one.
Chateau Lafite produced wines and sold them as far as London on auction in the 17th century and the English prime minister bought many barrels, but it was only towards the 18th century that the French took an interest in the red wines of Bordeaux.
Jacques de Segur’s grandson Alexandre took over from his father and began to improve the winemaking techniques as well as the marketing side of the estate making the wines fit for kings and he became known as the “Wine King” with his production going into Versailles and making Richelieu his ambassador who convinced the Kings that the fountain of youth had been discovered in the Lafite wines.
Marquis Nicolas did not have any sons and after his death the estate of Lafite and Latour were divided, but managed by a steward until the late 1700’s when it was inherited by Count Nicolas Marie Alexander de Segur, the son of the marquis oldest daughter who married a cousin Alexandre de Segur.
The finest vineyards in the world were sold as Alexandre had many unsettled debts to pay and a relative Nicolas Pierre de Pichard the first president of the Bordeaux Parliament used his kinship rights to purchase the estate in 1784.
Thomas Jefferson named Château Latife as one of the top four wine estates and this led to the estate’s well established legacy, but sadly just before the turn of the century Pierre was executed and the Segur family’s stewardship of the estate ended.
The property went on sale and the purchaser was forced to sell to three Dutch merchants in 1800.
The Vanlerberghe family who were grain merchants bought the estate and on the death of Ignace Joseph Vanlerberghe, his wife sold it to an Englishman and his son as representatives for the son of Vanlerberghe who came forward years later with the title to take over the estate and in this time vintages of outstanding quality were produced, but the estate was put up for sale due to inheritance issues and Baron James de Rothschild purchased the chateau in 1868 but passed away just three months after the purchase, leaving it to his three sons.
The vineyards at that time were 74 hectares and the vintage produced in 1868 went down in the records as one of the most expensive wines which continued to reign for an entire century and the three sons remained the owners for fifteen years.
Phylloxera destroyed the vineyards and it also suffered through many more turbulent years with war and the great depression, forcing the estate to declassify some of their wines, but they also decided to bottle on the premises to avoid fraud but a financial crisis led to a reduction in the vineyards.
After getting through that dark period World War 2 also affected the estate and both Rothschild estates were confiscated and placed under public administration, but under administrators the estates were dismissed and were to serve as agricultural schools in 1942.
Baron Elie de Rothschild claimed back the state in 1945 and began to reconstruct, restore and replant the vineyards with intelligent measures and a good marketing plan selling to the U.S.A and other areas with an increase in the price.
He added cows to the estate which has been kept there today serving no purpose other than to just live peacefully.
In 1973 new cellars were introduced by a technical team, stainless steel vats, oak vats and circular ageing.
The vineyards were freed from herbicides and the state began to take shape in a different direction with a remarkable series of vintages under the wings of Baron Eric de Rothschild.
The Wine Cellar
Built circular and underground the vault supports 16 columns that give an airy and majestic feel being able to hold 2200 barrels.
Stainless steel, wooden and concrete vats are in the winery and their wines are aged in 100% new French oak barrels for 18 months.
The vineyards consist of 112 hectares with gravel, sand, clay and limestone soils with rolling gravel slopes planted with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot with vines at an average age of 40 years.
The Rothschild vineyards are split into 3 sections and vines in the Le Graviere section are over 100 years old.
The Château Lafite Rothschild Wines
Château Lafite Rothschild Premier Cru Classe Pauillac 1988 is a full bodied noble wine with cassis, tobacco, graphite, earth and spice aromas ending on a rhubarb and cassis note.
Carruades de Lafite Pauillac is a light coloured wine with aromas of cassis ending on a strawberry and cherry note and is considered the second wine of the estate.
Visit Château Lafite Rothschild
There is a lot to offer on this fine estate with the cows on one side and a park, lake and vineyards on another as well as marshlands and greenery, but a tour will get you information on the history of the estate, the process of wine production and a tasting experience that will make you feel rich. It is by appointment only and at Chateau Lafite Rothschild you will feel like a king or queen every step of the way.
Tours and Events
Château Lafite Rothschild
33250 Pauillac Bordeaux, France
Editor-in-Chief and Wine Writer
Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂