Full Pull Mister Carson or Lord Grantham

Hello friends. Really fun offer today, lined up with the help of Lafite’s local representatives (Unique Wines) and national representatives (Pasternak Imports). We’re going to take Lafite, both at home (the mothership, in Bordeaux) and abroad (Chile), and offer the low end and the high end of the lineup. Taste what Mr. Carson would have poured for the downstairs dinner, or if you’re feeling flush, taste what he would have poured for Lord Grantham and his guests upstairs.

2012 Los Vascos (Lafite) Grande Reserve (Cabernet Sauvignon)
This is a reoffer, actually, originally offered on March 20, 2015. The wine has seen packaging changes since then, with perhaps the most important change being that it comes in wood six-packs. So, if you’re a local-pickup list member, and you order six of these bottles, you’ll get them in a lovely wood box.

Excerpts from the original offer: Los Vascos is Domaines Barons de Rothschild-Lafite’s ambitious project in Chile, inaugurated in 1988. The vineyard they purchased (located here) is 640 hectares, planted to Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), Carménère (5%), Syrah (4%), Malbec (1%) and Chardonnay (5%). The oldest vines are more than 70 years old, but most of the blocks are 40-50 years old, interspersed with younger blocks planted out in the ‘90s post-Lafite purchase.

A Cab-dominant (75%) blend of all four red varieties planted at Los Vascos, it was aged for a year in Lafite’s French oak barrels (50% new), and it clocks in at 14% listed alc. The nose has a wonderful earthy/soil component, shaded by cassis and bay leaf and a dark/exotic spice note, like star anise. Fleshy from front to back, this has an especially supple/polished mid-palate, and a lovely sense of savory succulence (likely from the 10% Carmenere). It’s decidedly new world in style (especially for Lafite!), but there are sneaky earth tones and plenty of Lafite polish. It’s a classy glass of Cabernet indeed, and an interesting reference point for Washington Cab lovers.

JamesSuckling.com (James Suckling): “[TEXT WITHHELD]. 91pts.”

2012 Los Vascos (Lafite) Le Dix
The top wine for Lafite’s Chilean satellite, Le Dix was inaugurated to celebrate ten years of Lafite’s presence in Chile. It comes from “El Fraile,” a series of 70-year-old vineyard plots, and it is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), blended with Carmenere and Syrah. It spends 18 months in new Lafite French oak barrels; the highest-end treatment to be sure. It offers a soaring nose of blackcurrant fruit, violet pastille, cedar, and exotic spice notes of star anise and clove. Lovely and expressive. The rich fruit has a wonderful saturating quality on the palate. It’s a supple wine, with silky new-world fruit and impressively polished (yet present) tannins.

JamesSuckling.com (James Suckling): “[TEXT WITHHELD]. 95-96pts.”

2014 Lafite Legende Bordeaux Rouge
Legende is a newly-launched wine for Lafite, their attempt to make an accessible, well-priced gateway into their higher-end portfolio. Among godawful $15 red wines from around the world, godawful $15 red Bordeaux is among the godawfulest. So I’m pleased to see Lafite enter this space, because they can’t help but produce wines with class and polish, at all price points.

This is a 60/40 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, from a series of partner winegrowers scattered across greater Bordeaux. It spent 9 months in a mix of French oak and stainless steel, and it clocks in at 12.5% listed alc, just right for value BDX. The nose is clean and lovely, offering fruit notes of black cherry and cassis and bitter orange, complicated by notes of coffee and threads of smoky earth. Dry, chewy, and earthy are my first three notes on the palate. There’s bright red fruit. There’s taut nervy acidity. It’s clean, honest, juicy Bordeaux for the tag, and it offers plenty of full-blooded rusticity on the finish. Really a fine introduction to old-school Bordeaux (the good kind, not the kind with brettanomyces and bacterial issues) and a fine value.

2010 Chateau Lafite Rothschild
A few logistics notes, since this is a higher-end wine than we typically offer. First, this wine is currently housed in Pasternak’s temperature-controlled warehouse in New Jersey. Since Pasternak is Lafite’s national importer, we know the wine arrived directly from the Chateau. We’ll be placing our order directly from New Jersey, so it will be a few weeks out (but not a few months out, as it would be if we were ordering from Europe). As usual, we will not charge anyone until we lay eyes on the wine in our warehouse.

All that to say: the provenance of these bottles is rock solid. No doubt you can find better pricing for 2010 Lafite (even though we’re taking less than half our normal margin) at auction or via the grey market, and I don’t begrudge anyone who does that. But when you’re buying an expensive wine, and one that you can potentially hold for 50 years, knowing its exact path from the chateau to your cellar has real value too.

Lafite’s vineyards are right at the boundary line between Pauillac and St. Estephe, about as far north as you can get in Pauillac. The gravelly soils are perfect for growing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon in the world, and Cab makes up 71% of the vineyard. The remainder is mostly (25%) Merlot, with small dollops of Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. The site dates to the 1300s, with the current Rothschild ownership having purchased the property in 1866. This is one of the original and enduring first-growth houses of Bordeaux.

Does it go without saying that I haven’t sampled this wine? Because of that, I’m going to offer the full range of professional reviews, from the four publications that we quote more than any others. As expected from the outstanding 2010 vintage in Bordeaux, these reviews are lights-out, ranging from 96+pts at the low-end (from always-difficult-grader Stephen Tanzer) to a sparkling 100pt review from Wine Enthusiast:

Vinous (Stephen Tanzer): “[TEXT WITHHELD]. 96+pts.”

Wine Spectator (James Molesworth): “[TEXT WITHHELD]. 97pts.”

Wine Advocate (Robert Parker): “[TEXT WITHHELD]. 98pts.”

Wine Enthusiast (Roger Voss): “[TEXT WITHHELD]. 100pts.”

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles each of Los Vascos Cab and Le Dix and Lafite Legende, and 3 bottles of Lafite, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The Lafite will ship from Jersey and should arrive within a month or so; all three remaining wines are in Seattle and should arrive in a week or two, at which point all the wines will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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