Chateau Lafite Rothschild
- Thursday 9 July 2009
Fax: +33 (0)5 56 59 26 83
Visits: By appointment only
Details: Pauillac, 1ère Cru Classé, 107ha, gravel-sand on limestone
Vineyards: Cabernet Sauvignon 70%, Merlot Noir 25%, Cabernet Franc 3%, Petit Verdot 2%
The Lafite name is believed to derive from a 14th century fief called 'La Hite', which in old Gascon means hillock. The first Lafite vines were planted in the late 17th century, most likely by Jacques de Ségur whose family holding then encompassed large swathes of Pauillac. Proper development of the vineyard came later though, under grandson Nicolas-Aléxandre de Ségur ('Prince des Vignes') who achieved great quality for the wine. Britain's prime Minster Robert Walpole is known to have ordered a regular supply, while at the Court of Versailles both Madame de Pompadour and, later, Madame du Barry would wow their guests with the tipple. Two generations later, however, the Ségur family, struggling with mounting debts, relinquished the great estate - and perhaps just in time: new incumbent Nicolas-Pierre de Pichard was swiftly executed at the outbreak of the French Revolution and Lafite put up for public auction. The property passed first into Dutch hands and later English before being reclaimed, again at auction, by the French in 1868. The buyer was Baron James de Rothschild in whose family the estate remains to this day - now much modernised and managed by Eric de Rothschild, great great grandson of James.