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June 01, 2015

Lafite Rothschild and Carruades de Lafite 2014

lafite

Domaines Barons de Rothschild made a statement at the beginning of the en primeur campaign, releasing Duhart Milon Rothschild 17.5% below the 2013 release price. On Friday afternoon the Domaine released their second and final tranche of Lafite Rothschild, after tempting the market two weeks before with a limited first tranche release.  Most negociants took the strategic decision to wait until Friday afternoon to release the long awaited and stunning 2014. The final price, arrived at as a cost average, is £2,950, a 7.8% decrease on last year and 26% below 2012. The 2008 vintage has been touted as the benchmark for this year’s pricing and Lafite Rothschild 2008 currently costs £5,150. Therefore, this year’s release price of £2,950 per case of 12 is 42% lower than 2008′s trading price and 37% below the average trading prices of all vintages since 2004, £4,730.

Lafite Rothschild have made a fabulous wine in 2014, awarded 97-98 points from James Suckling, 94-97 from James Molesworth of the Wine Spectator, 97 from Tim Atkin and 94-96 from the Wine Advocate. The 2014 Lafite is a very fine one indeed, closely behind 2010 and 2005 in quality, yet  at a 49.7% discount, which makes it extremely compelling indeed. One of the largest names in wine the world over has released at a market discount that should have been universal during en primeur, it provides a very healthy percentage reduction on current vintages and past release prices. This is one of the best offers of the entire campaign, as demonstrated below:

table

Lafite Rothschild
Lafite Rothschild is a powerhouse in terms of brand and reputation and presently commands the highest prices amongst its First Growth peers. Lafite is the largest of the First Growths both in area and production and occupies the northern tip of Pauillac close to the border with St Estephe in the Medoc. Evidence of the existence of wine-making on the site of Lafite dates from the 14th century and records of the wine itself date from 1641. In 1868 Lafite was purchased by Baron James de Rothschild, a member of the famous banking family and has been presided over by Eric de Rothschild since 1974.

Within the Pauillac appellation, Lafite is often considered the most elegant, feminine wine when compared to the masculine Latour and the exotic fruitiness of Mouton Rothschild. Since the 1980s, Lafite has produced great vintages on a regular basis and has become the favourite wine of Asia.

Carruades de Lafite, the second wine of Lafite Rothschild, was released at £920 per case of 12 bottles, an 8% reduction on 2013 and  23% reduction on 2012. Using 2008 as the benchmark for pricing is instructive here, with the 2014 offering a 38.7% discount, it also provides a 38% reduction on the average case price since 2004. According to Drinks Business, Carruades Lafite has been the third best performing en primeur wine returning an average of 48.2% since 2004. The release price of the 2014 is very attractive and in two years when it is bottled it will be the cheapest physical vintage of Carruades Lafite on the market. Moreover, Carruades Lafite is rarer in 2014 than Lafite itself, with the Estate choosing to reduce production by 50% to ensure they made a very good Carruades.

table 2

Lafite Rothschild 2014, 12×75 – £2,950 or 6×75 – £1,475 EP
James Molesworth, Wine Spectator 94-97
Very backward, with loads of cedar, espresso and juniper out front, while the core of currant and blackberry fruit stays in reserve. Shows ample grip on the finish, but this is fine-grained and exhibits superb cut. Tasted non-blind
Neal Martin,  Wine Advcoate 94-96
The Château Lafite-Rothschild 2014 is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc, picked from 22 September until 10 October with the Petit Verdot, the Cabernet finished two days earlier. The Grand Vin is adorned with surprising richness and opulence on the nose: layers of ripe black plum and juniper, fine definition with even a hint of fig developing with continued aeration. After 5 minutes it turns volte face and becomes much more graphite and cedary – more Pauillac in essence. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe tannin, a potent core of black and blue fruit with a bullish (for Lafite) peacock’s tail on the finish. Very long in the mouth, this is a Lafite that yearns to compensate for last year and it accomplishes that with some panache.
James Suckling, 97 – 98
Fascinating aromas of light strawberry and cream brulee with honey. Medium body with an intense lively acidity and a bright finish. Super lively. Toasty wood too, then an electric finish. Goes on and on. It’s so Burgundian and refined. Dense and racy.

Carruades de Lafite 2014, 12×75 – £920 or 6×75 – £460 EP
James Suckling, 92-93
Gorgeous aromas of blackcurrants, beeries, blueberries and licorice. Minerals, too. Full, dense and tight. Wonderfully racy finish. Mineral, iodine and oyster shell undertones. Second wine of Lafite. “We really wanted to make an excellent Carruades,” says the winemaker Charles Chevalier. They did.
James Molesworth, Wine Spectator, 90-93
Sleek and refined, with black currant and plum fruit, laced with a hint of raspberry coulis, while subtle tobacco and roasted alder notes form the frame. Features a tight, racy feel through the finish. Tasted non-blind
Neal Martin, Wine Advocate, 88-90
The Carruades de Lafite is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon and 42% Merlot. It has a pure blackberry, slightly tarry bouquet that is well defined, a little strict perhaps, but focused. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin in the mouth, a much more sophisticated Carruades de Lafite than last year with a crisp, nicely poised and lightly spiced finish. This is a decent, satisfying Carruades de Lafite that should be afforded three or four years in bottle.

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