DFWE 2011: Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) Masterclass

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As one participant remarked, tasting the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) “was like going through a tour of ultra-fine Bordeaux.”

dfwe, dfwe 2011

The master class began with a Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend: Legende Bordeaux Blanc 2010, exuding fine freshness and flavour.

Th prestigious Pomerol Château L’Evangile 2004 exhibited velour texture and complex aromas and flavours, including tobacco, plum and fine dark chocolate.

Its second wine Blason d’Issan also impressed palates. Winemaking director Charles Chevalier said that decisions on which wines to use for second labels vary according to the harvest. Younger vines are not always used for the second wine, for example.

Pauillac’s only fourth growth, the elegant yet finely structured Château Duhart-Milon, from the already legendary 2005 vintage, seemed almost closed at first, but swirling coaxed cedar freshness with cassis. Chevalier described young Duhart Milon as a military officer who had just finished training: ‘Everything is perfect, but he is not smiling much,’ he joked.

In contrast, the second wine of Lafite, Carruades de Lafite, also from 2005, seemed more open. Chevalier suggested a higher proportion of Merlot (45% as opposed to 19% in the Duhart) made it more accessible.

A trio of Lafite Rothschilds – arguably Bordeaux’s very best wine – included a 2003 that displayed no aspect of the overheated vintage; a still tannic, yet refined and complex 1995; a richer yet ever-elegant 1989.

Decanter publishing director Sarah Kemp, who co-hosted the masterclass, noted the freshness of fruit in all of the wines.

One participant called skyrocketing prices as ‘the elephant in the room’ after explaining that his most incredible tasting experience has been the Lafite Rothschild 1962. But prices are so high, he said, that ‘we are going to lose touch with what your are doing.’

Chevalier – who had announced the first planting this year of a 25-hectare vineyard in China for Domaine Barons de Rothschild – did not comment on pricing.

The tasting ended with a superb Château Rieussec 2005, a top Sauternes that exuded ripe pear and grapefruit in an opulent and spicy palate.

Panos Kakaviatos