“I have discovered the wine of Château Lafite to be a delicious, generous cordial, comparable to the ambrosia of the Gods of Olympus”
Maréchal de Richelieu (1755)
While the first known reference to Lafite dates to 1234 with a certain Gombaud de Lafite, abbot of the Vertheuil Monastery north of Pauillac, Lafite’s mention as a medieval fief dates to the 14th century. The name Lafite comes from the Gascon language term “la hite”, which means “hillock”. There were probably already vineyards on the property at the time when the Ségur family organised the vineyard in the 17th century, and Lafite began to earn its reputation as a great winemaking estate. Jacques de Ségur was credited with the planting of the Lafite vineyard in the 1670s and in the early 1680s. In 1695, Jacques de Ségur’s heir, Alexandre, married the heiress of Château Latour, who gave birth to Nicolas-Alexandre de Ségur. The wine histories of the fiefs of Lafite and Latour were thus joined at the outset.
Chateau Lafite-Rothschild is one of the Bordeaux First Growths in Pauillac, and possesses a long history of exceptional quality. In the 17th century, the vineyards were owned by Alexandre de Segur, also proprietor of Chateau Latour. After the French revolution, the chateau was purchased by several Dutch merchants before the current owners, the Rothschild family, acquired it in 1868.
Chateau Lafite-Rothschild is one of the largest Medoc estates, producing 15,000 to 25,000 cases per year. The grand vin is composed primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon (up to 95%) with the balance divided between Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. 1994 and 1961 are exceptions, however, and consist of 99% and 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, respectively. Part of the estate's production goes to its second wine called Carruades de Lafite (previously names Moulin des Carruades) which is produced from up to 70% Cabernet, with a larger proportion of Merlot. The best vintages of Lafite include 1918, 1846, 1945, 1947, 1959, 1961, 1982, 1990, 2000, 2003, and 2005. Lafite has a balanced elegance supported by the structure of its tannins. It is both full-bodied and silky. Aromas include currant, leather, graphite and tobacco. As Lafite ages, it reveals more minerals, as well as almond, violet, and cedar