24 Mar 2006

Lafite Rothschild

I WAS fortunate to be able to attend a vertical tasting of the wines of Chateau Lafite Rothschild hosted by Michael Broadbent, the John Gielgud of wine - in appearance at least. Unlike some of the wine funerals he must have attended, Broadbent himself is supple, witty and endlessly amusing; one anecdote particularly so: "...appreciating old wine is like making love to an old lady... possible, but you need a little imagination..."

Chateau Lafite (the Gascon la hite meaning hillock) requires very little introduction. Dating back to the 1670s, this has been premiere league ever since. Those doubting wine's ability to age, take note... a bottle of the 1787 sold for £105,000 at Christies in 1985 (£530 per year cellared).

The wines tasted were deemed "naked" without food, Lafite being the "supreme table wine".

Most prices are in bond, meaning duty is to be added. On the subject of top Bordeaux commanding huge prices, Broadbent said these were wines never intended for the hoi polloi anyway and Bordeaux has always been expensive. How can supply keep up with global demand, particularly with the likes of Le Pin being only 1.6ha?

Vintage advice from Broadbent: '05 is going to be a particularly fine year. Broadbent appears to detest oenologists, i.e. those who travel the globe making similar tasting wines. "Great wine was made before they were around".

My thoughts on oenologists/consultants - both modern additions to business and both driving Ferraris, perhaps off the back of others ignorance and fear... Clever.

When I returned from the tasting I perhaps stupidly tasted a rough old Chianti which tasted like chemicals after the Lafite.
"Lucky you, tasting through all those with the Master"
[Victoria Moore]