The vineyard includes three large areas: the
hills around the Château, the Carruades plateau contiguous to the west and a
4.5 ha plot in the neighbouring town of Saint-Estèphe. The surface is 112
ha, they are fine gravel, deep, mixed with aeolian sands on a tertiary
limestone subsoil, well drained and well exposed.
The grape varieties are Cabernet
Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (25%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and Petit Verdot (2%).
The average age of the vines is 39 years, but
you should know that vines less than 10 years old do not fit into the great
wine, which means that the age of the vines giving the great wine is more of
the order. 45 years old on
average. The oldest plot, known as “La Gravière”, was planted in 1886.
The management of the property has
been carried out since 1962 by a unique team supervising Château Lafite
Rothschild and Château Duhart-Milon given the contiguity of the two properties. Eric
Kohler, Technical Director of Château Lafite Rothschild and Château
Duhart-Milon, is assisted by Christophe Congé, Oenologist and Winemaker, and
Louis Caillard, Vineyard Manager.
The techniques used are
therefore completely identical between the two Châteaux and remain traditional,
they integrate a strict control of the yields, a harvest by hand and many works
carried out manually throughout the year. Little or no chemical
fertilizers and some manure additions allow the vines to reach a high age, the
uprooting is only done against the will when the vines are generally over 80
The harvest from
each plot is treated in separate vats to initially keep the identity of the
terroir on which the grapes have matured. At Lafite, tradition and
technical progress complement each other, fermentation takes place in two vats:
the traditional vat room made up of large oak vats and the modern vat room made
up of stainless steel vats, integrated cooling and reheating rings, centralized
automation and controls. temperatures.
At the end of the alcoholic fermentation, the
vats are subjected to a first tasting before being passed into vats of fine
wine, the "free-run wine", the marc for their part are pressed
independently to extract the " press wine ”. A new fermentation
phase, called malolactic, is
carried out in vats before placing in barrels, batch by batch.
In 2010, Lafite refined its system by building two vats made up of
several dozen small capacity tanks. A Merlot vat (cement vats of 50 to 125
hl) in order to vinify with particular attention the different plot lots of
Merlot. A divisional vat room (30 to 70 hl stainless steel vats) dedicated
to malolactic fermentation (second fermentation) in order to extend the plot
selection until the end of the complete vinification process for all batches
that require it, whether in Cabernet or in merlot.
All barrels come from the Tonnellerie des Domaines with
a specific adaptation of the “toasting” to the characteristics of the wine
during production. Several tastings of each vat are carried out in
December for a strict selection of the great wine. The blend is made at
the first racking of the barrels in March. The stage of maturing and aging
of the wine in the cellar begins, a stage which will be spread over a period of
18 to 20 months. During this period, the cellar master will operate a
series of rackings, which aim to separate the sediment from the lees of the
clean wine, and a "fining", the addition in each barrel of four and
six slightly beaten egg whites. in snow which will coagulate the last particles
in suspension and precipitate them at the bottom of the barrel. The wine
is then ready for bottling which takes place all at once in June.
The circular cellar of Château Lafite Rothschild was built
under the direction of the architect Ricardo Bofill and inaugurated in 1987. Intended
for maturing second year wines, it is characterized by its atypical octagonal
shape and a vault supported by 16 columns. . It can accommodate up to