Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
From 1716, Marquis Nicolas Alexandre de Ségur would consolidate Lafite’s initial success. He improved the winemaking techniques and above all enhanced the prestige of fine wines in foreign markets and the Versailles court. He became known as “The Wine Prince”, and Lafite’s wine became “The King’s Wine”, with the support of an able ambassador, the Maréchal de Richelieu. In 1868 Lafite was bought by Baron James de Rothschild, a member of the French branch of the family. After the occupation of the domain by German troops during World War II, the château was restored by Baron Elie.
From 1974 to early 2018, Eric de Rothschild, was at the helm of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and since then, his daughter Saskia de Rothschild has taken over as Chairwoman of their family estate. Jean-Guillaume Prats was appointed CEO of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) in early 2018, upon the retirement of Christophe Salin, who joined in 1985 to assist Baron Eric de Rothschild in the realisation of his development plans. Charles Chevallier, who has been Technical Director since 1994 and joined the group in 1984, was succeeded by Eric Kohler in 2016. Both Christophe Salin and Charles Chevallier are now Senior Advisors to the Group.
All the wines today, year after year, vintage after vintage, are at the pinnacle of quality. Lafite is the largest of the first growths with a total surface area of 178 hectares or 440 acres with 112 hectares or 255 acres under vines. The soil is deep fine gravel mixed with aeolien sand on a bedrock of tertiary limestone. It is well drained with favourable exposure to sunlight.
The grape mix emphasizes Cabernet Sauvignon with some 70%, along with Merlot (25%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and a smattering of Petit Verdot (2%) – a very traditional blending for Médoc wines. The oldest vines are located on the parcel of La Gravière. They have been planted in 1886! After fermentation and maceration of the grapes, the wines are tasted, selected and blended on the basis of their quality in order to distinguish the main wine labeled Lafite Rothschild and the second wine which goes by the name of Carruades de Lafite. Over the past ten years, an average of 40,000 cases of these two wines has been the annual production.
Eric de Rothschild has made major investments in the renewal of the vineyard and the wine-making facilities including the addition of a spectacular circular “chai” or wine storage area designed by the famed architect Ricardo Bofill, capable of holding 2,200 barrels. He also invested in a cooperage, which is very important to estates, to have a barrel of high quality.
Château Lafite Rothschild is a wine characterised by finesse and elegance, with a subtle but complex bouquet often redolent of violets. According to Abraham Lawto, in 1815 “…whatever the case, all the wines of Château Lafite have an almond and violet aroma!”