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April 16, 2014

Lafite and Carruades de Lafite 2013

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Lafite Rothschild 2013 – £1,600, 6×75 - 91-93 points WA
Today marks the most exciting release of the 2013 en primeur campaign so far with the global powerhouse Lafite Rothschild; the biggest beneficiary of the Asian wine boom. Lafite has unquestionably established itself as the most famous and revered fine wine brand in the world; the 2013 has been released 14% lower than the 2012 vintage and the same price as the 2007 release. This makes it comfortably the cheapest priced Lafite Rothschild on the market and with 33% less production in 2013 than normal, extremely competitive. Since its release Lafite Rothschild 2012 has maintained a comfortable trading level of £3,950 a case, representing a 25% difference to today’s 2013 release. Moreover with most cases of Lafite Rothschild happily trading above £5,000 a case the 2013 offers a 60% reduction to the lower end of the market trading average: this is extremely compelling.

Lafite Rothschild 2013 is very unique in its style, with a blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon (normally closer to 80%) and only 2% Merlot. As a result it delivers powerful aromas of blackcurrant and cassis, but – as is the style of the 2013 vintage – it also offers red fruit and plums. The nose develops flavours of smoke, sandalwood, tar and spice, white pepper and cinnamon, combining a wonderful fragrance of violets with the tell-tale pencil shaving flavours and graphite. The Palate is medium bodied and has notes of shaved white chocolate and mocha. Lafite Rothschild 2013 received 92-93 points from James Suckling, 89-92 from James Molesworth and 91-93 from Neil Martin. We remember clearly a point in 2011 when it seemed Lafite Rothschild would be forever out of reach of all but the world’s richest collectors, yet the 2013 reflects a bottle price of £266.67 and a return to the quasi affordable. Lafite Rothschild 2013 will be met with popularity and gives the market something to work with. The 2013 also has the lowest Points Over Price score of any case of Lafite Rothschild in the market.

Lafite Price WA POP
2013 £3,200 91-93 267
2012 £3,850 92-95 285
2011 £4,350 90-93 378
2007 £5,400 94 386
2004 £5,250 95 350
2002 £5,400 94 386
2001 £5,500 94 393

*The POP is a method devised by Liv-ex where it takes the critic score and subtracts 80 from the total. Scoring the wines out of 20 also increases the weighting of each point. The new score is then divided by the price of a nine litre case giving the POP score, the implication being that the lower the score the better the relative value.

Neil Martin 91-93 points
It has an elegant bouquet with a fine violet scent that became more accentuated with time. There is plenty of dark cherry and blackcurrant fruit, a touch of pencil shavings that becomes more pronounced with aeration. The palate is a little austere because of the dominance of the Cabernet Sauvignon, although that 2% Merlot does take the edge off the finish, rounding out any edges. The aftertaste has that attractive saline tincture, but here a little spicier and longer than its peers. This is a traditional Pauillac; a success for the vintage and a wine that I think will improve in bottle rather than in barrel. A steadfast Lafite. 

James Suckling 92-93 points
This is exceptionally high in cabernet sauvignon at 98% with only 2% merlot. It shows aromas of black currants and flowers and cigar box. It’s full body, with fine tannins and a long finish. It’s subtle and polished.

James Molesworths 89–92 points
Still a bit clouded by oak today, this presents a slightly firm frame and a whiff of bread dough, but there’s persistence to the red currant, floral, iron and sanguine flavors, all carried by finely beaded acidity. Noticeably austere throughout. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

 

Carruades de Lafite 2013 – 12×75, £990 or 6×75, £495 - 88-90 points WA
Carruades de Lafite is equally interesting in 2013, released at a 22% discount to the present trading value of the 2012 and 44% discount on the 2011s. 2013 Carruades is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The nose is dense, displaying black fruits, white pepper, cedar, smoke, yet with lighter notes of cherry, graphite and violets. The palate is medium bodied with fine tannin and a delicate mouth-feel. Neil Martin awarded it 89-90 points and James Molesworth 89-91. However, idiomatically of the 2013 vintage, purchasing decisions will come down to pricing. With most vintages of Carruades trading above £1,700 a case. this means the 2013 offers an 85% discount to the lower end of the markets’ average case price and a real incentive to buy and hold on release.

Carruades  Price WA POP
2013 £990 88-90 110
2012 £1,100 87-89 138
2011 £1,300 87-89 163
2007 £1,750 90 175
2004 £1,900 89-90 200
2002 £1,850 87 264
2001 £1,800 87 257
James Molesworth 88-91 points
Perfumy, with black tea notes out front, followed by racy, tightly focused red currant and black cherry fruit. The sleek, tobacco-fueled finish has a pleasant racy edge. Not dense, but balanced and defined. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Neal Martin 88-90 points
The Carruades de Lafite is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. It has quite a floral bouquet with touches of dried violet petals infusing the crisp blackberry fruit, laced with cedar and a touch of smoke. The palate is medium-bodied with a supple entry, starting with black fruit but gently moving to more red fruit towards the finish. There is not the usual persistency, but it has pleasing purity and approachability.