In 2016 the sublime nature of the Cabernet Sauvignon on the Left Bank has rendered a truly memorable Lafite Rothschild. It was voted the best wine of the vintage in Liv-ex’s report by the UK trade, while we also viewed it as one of the finest of the vintage, worthy of a 98-100 point score. James Suckling gave it a perfect 100 point score, asking ‘Perhaps the greatest Lafite since the legendary 1959?’. Neal Martin has awarded it 96-98 points, a high score, yet he has undercooked it by all accounts. Indeed, he does not seem to hold Lafite Rothschild in the same verve as Robert Parker, if Parker had been tasting, this wine would surely have been destined for a potential perfect score.
Lafite Rothschild released their first tranche early in the campaign, which would have translated as £435 per bottle, a 20% pound increase on last year. Due to the obvious and justified demand, most negociants and therefore merchants with high demand have chosen to wait for the second tranche before releasing. Today’s second tranche release means that Lafite Rothschild’s final cost averaged price is £470.83, a 30% sterling increase on last year. This represents real value compared to older vintages, the 98 point Wine Advocate scoring 2010 trades today at £6,900, which also has 100 points from James Suckling, the 98 point scoring 2008 at £7,000 and the 96 point scoring 2005 at £7,820.
As such the 2016 represents a strong buy with plenty of potential future upside. In fact, based on our historical trend projection, we calculate that with its median score of 97 that the natural market price would have been £6,740. As such, today’s cost-averaged price of £5,650 per case of 12 leaves approximately £1,090 on the table for collectors, purely based on a market price adjusted to the historical trend. Evidently, a 98 point score from bottle would send the projected market price diagonally upward along the trendline to a natural market price of £7,100.
Lafite Rothschild will prove popular at this price, offering an incentive to buy on release. With one of the most rapid en primeur campaigns in decades all but over, we can all breathe and take stock.
Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2016, 12×75 – £5,650 EP or 6×75 – £2,825 EP
96-98 Points, Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate
The 2016 Lafite-Rothschild is a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot picked from 23 September until 12 October with the Cabernet Sauvignon (and unused Petit Verdot). It has 13.3% alcohol, a pH of 3.65 and the IPT of 74. Matured in 100% new oak, it has a fresh and vibrant bouquet whilst retaining the classicism of this First Growth. This is more subtle than Mouton-Rothschild or Latour, which is always the case at en primeur, yet there is a brooding intensity that draws you in as it unveils some gorgeous blackberry and graphite aromas. The palate is just superb. This has more density, more vigor, more depth and you could even argue more ambition than the 2015 Lafite-Rothschild showed last year. It gently grips the mouth with unerring focus and symmetry, just a touch of spiciness developing with a long, saline finish that lingers two minutes after the wine has departed. Lafite-Rothschild always develops and meliorates in barrel during its élevage and I suspect this will ultimately turn out to be a regal Lafite-Rothschild.
100 Points, James Suckling
Even stronger and more toned than the excellent 2015, this Lafite shows incredible power yet also finesse. Full-bodied, superfine and chewy wine. Muscular yet agile. Goes on for minutes. Stunning. Perhaps the greatest Lafite since the legendary 1959?
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